The Fight for the Peel Watershed Continues
The Yukon Government announced late December 30th, 2014 that they would appeal Justice Veale’s decision in The First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun et. al. v The Government of Yukon, the lawsuit concerning the Peel Watershed launched by the First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Yukon Chapter (CPAWS Yukon) and the Yukon Conservation Society (YCS).
The plaintiffs launched the legal proceedings on January 27, 2014, alleging that Yukon Government broke with the land use planning process laid out in the Umbrella Final Agreement (UFA), and incorporated in all the First Nations Final Agreements in Yukon. The plaintiffs sought to have the process set out in the UFA upheld and to see the planning through to a conclusion that would protect more than 54,000 square kilometres of wilderness in northern Yukon’s Peel River Watershed from mining and other industrial development. The week of July 7 – 10, renowned lawyer Thomas R. Berger O.C., Q.C. argued the landmark constitutional case in the Supreme Court of Yukon in front of a packed house. The case was then continued on October 24 to accommodate a deeper discussion focused on remedy. On December 2, 2014 Justice Ron Veale delivered his written decision in which he agreed with the plaintiffs. In his reasons for judgment, Justice Veale agreed with the plaintiffs that Yukon Government violated the land use planning process laid out in the Umbrella Final Agreement (UFA) with respect to the Peel Watershed Land Use Plan. The planning process will now return to the stage where Yukon Government ran it off the rails – the final round of consultation with First Nations and the public. The court order constrains Yukon Government to the modifications they previously proposed but the question of the amount of land protected and the question of access are off limits.
You can read the plaintiffs' press release here.
You can find a summary of the Judge's decision for the media here.
And the full text of the decision can be found here.