Land use plans to date in the Yukon have failed to balance potentially conflicting interests and have come short of reflecting the values of the community as a whole. Lack of clarity of mandates, combined with inherent biases in the composition of planning teams and in applied methodologies, have consistently resulted in a strong conservation bias, creating regrettable community polarization and mistrust in the planning process.
This has negatively impacted those Yukoners relying on land-based resource industries who feel unrepresented by the process. The latest Dawson LUP marked a great improvement in community consultation over previous plans, yet the methodology remained inherently biased. For example, when ranking the ‘Crown Land’ scenario (no additional protection designation above existing rules and regulations), all natural values are given a nul ranking, therefore implying that these values are left vulnerable without additional levels of protection. This pro-conservation bias is subtle as it is embedded in the algorithm methodology; however it is erroneous. Moose, hiking and other natural values are very healthy AND protected by existing legislation affecting activities on Crown Land. To be trusted with an effective democratic process, planners are challenged with constructing a non-politically biased methodology, providing factual information into a political process, which will then result in policy decisions. Added clarity to the mandate of the planning teams is needed. Limitations of the planning process need to be acknowledged, as the values analyzed and the knowledge base are dynamic while the plans themselves tend to be fixed, static and assume predictability.
- Daniele Heon - Yukon Prospectors Association, B.Sc, P. Geo.