More than 7,500 show support for Final Recommended Peel Plan
Whitehorse – More than 7,500 individuals came out in support of the Peel Watershed Planning Commission’s Final Recommended plan during the final round of public consultations that closed February 25th, according to CPAWS records.
“The sheer volume of individuals speaking up in favour of the final recommended plan should send a strong message to the Yukon Government,” said Gill Cracknell, Executive Director of CPAWS-Yukon. “And we expect this represents just a fraction of the total public contribution.”
Yukon outfitter Alan Young hand-delivered his letter to Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Brad Cathers. Young, whose outfitting concession sits in the middle of the Peel Watershed, didn’t get a warm reception. “Only three percent of Yukoners care about the Peel,’” Cathers told Young. It’s a bewildering statistic. “Where is he getting that number?” said Young. “It’s ridiculous. You just have to be in the Yukon a couple of weeks before you know people want the Peel protected.”
Young was a big game outfitter in BC for 16 years and sat on its land management board for protected areas. But these protected areas kept getting smaller. “That’s why I came to the Yukon,” he said. “Industry is slowly eroding our country, opening up areas that will never be the same again. That’s why I’m totally opposed to roads and mining in the Peel.”
The 7,500 in support of the final recommended land-use plan to protect the Peel are only the tip of the iceberg, added Young. “That doesn’t include 80 percent of government workers who want to see the Peel protected but are too scared to write because they don’t want to lose their jobs.”
Marten Berkman is an artist, filmmaker, and government employee who wasn’t afraid to express his views during the public consultation process. “I have a responsibility to participate as a citizen,” said Berkman. “If I do not express my views, and champion the democratic values fought for by our ancestors, I would be doing a disservice to my children, and to theirs. In the Peel planning process, I have had a chance to speak about where my head, my hands and my heart meet. And that is in a watershed that remains largely intact, as expressed in the Final Recommended Plan by the Peel Watershed Planning Commission.”
The number of individuals involved in the most recent phase of consultation is staggering compared to previous phases. An October 2010 government summary of public input on the recommended Peel plan saw only 897 responses (with 88% in favour of protection), compared to today’s 7,500 responses favouring protection. “It is gratifying to see how important this issue is to the public, that thousands empowered themselves and engaged in the process through letters, emails, and petitions,” said Cracknell.
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