C17 – Mike Burke Letter
Dear Chamber Membership:
The Yukon Chamber of Mines’ Board of Directors has recently changed strategy with respect to how we interact with governments in our efforts to see positive change with the Yukon’s regulatory system.
The Board has initiated an approach of working collaboratively together on Yukon mining issues with all orders of government in the Yukon and specifically greater engagement with First Nations governments. Previous approaches have not fully engaged First Nations governments and have resulted in confrontation and litigation on Yukon mining issues,. This change in the Board’s strategy was not taken lightly, but our experience and research are showing the problems with the YESAB and other issues such as Class 1 thresholds are not being resolved.
In many past cases where the approach of confrontation was evoked, disagreeing parties responded with litigation. Many of these cases were pushed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. From our legal review, most of these cases sided against the Yukon mining industry. Even for projects that were approved by YESAB and the Yukon Government, some were stopped at the Yukon Water Board because they did not have endorsement from the local community. Again, let me reiterate, this is a complex process that must be improved significantly on many levels.
The Board approved a motion to support Bill C-17 which will repeal amendments to the Yukon Environmental and Socioeconomic Act (YESSA). Our support of Bill C-17 which will repeal the amendments defined in Bill S-6 has not been unconditional. The amendments outlined in Bill S-6 were supported by the Chamber and have a positive impact on the regulatory process. Specifically, the amendment on re-assessments is currently having a positive impact and timelines are of great importance for certainty in our regulatory process. I am assuring you that the Chamber shares the concerns of many of our members about the effect of bill C-17 repealing these amendments.
Our members who have gone through the Yukon Environmental and Socioeconomic Assessment Board (YESAB) process are well aware that this is a process where an enormous amount of improvement must occur. Given that this process involves the Government of Canada, Yukon Government, fourteen distinct Yukon First Nation governments, and municipalities all with individual entity rights, our past approach of confrontation and litigation was not working effectively.
In our communication with all orders of government we have insisted that re-assessments and timelines defined in Bill S-6 must be immediately resolved to ensure certainty for Yukon’s mining industry. Because of this new approach of working together, the Council of Yukon First Nations and the Yukon Government and have already begun working with our organization to address the issues outlined in Bill C-17. In the next few months we will also begin working at a level with the individual fourteen Yukon First Nations to ensure these issues that hinder mining in the Yukon are resolved in as timely a manner as possible.
The vision of the Board is a strong and sustainable mining industry with a clear and efficient regulatory process continuing to be the cornerstone of the Yukon economy. We feel strongly that the path to achieving our vision is to work cooperatively with all orders of governments, First Nation, Federal, Territorial and Municipal and that is the strategy we have embarked on. As the President of your Chamber I encourage you to provide us feedback on our strategic direction as we work together towards a prosperous future for the Yukon’s mining and exploration industry.