Yukon NDP calls on government to speed up proposed wetlands strategy

·1 min read

The Yukon NDP is calling on the Liberal government to hurry up with its proposed wetlands strategy.

The call comes after a contentious Yukon Water Board hearing last week over the impacts of placer mining in the Indian River Watershed.

Conservationists and the Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin First Nation say placer mining should be suspended until more protections are in place. The Indian River valley south of Dawson City, Yukon, is in the traditional territory of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in, and has been extensively mined over the past 100 years.

In the legislature on Monday, NDP MLA Liz Hanson accused the Yukon government of taking too long to bring in a promised wetlands strategy.

"We are on — at last count — draft six, and there's no protections in place to this date. And while they drag their feet, more irreversible damage is done to Yukon's wetlands."

Hanson said the government needs to limit the cumulative impact of placer mining.

"Wetlands are fragile ecosystems that play a vital role in maintaining the health of wildlife, when disturbed these ecosystems can not bet returned to their natural state," said Hanson.

Bing
Bing

Premier Sandy Silver said his government plans to roll out a wetlands policy in the next year, but said the government has no plans to stop placer mining before then.

He said while the final policy is not complete, the government has implemented an interim approach for reclamation in the Indian River wetlands area.

"We have been moving the needle on this," said Silver. "This approach is intended to strike an appropriate balance between conservation and the development interests in the area."

In the meantime, he said all projects still have to gain regulatory approval before they go ahead.

Nelly Alberola/Radio-Canada
Nelly Alberola/Radio-Canada