North

'Not the wild west anymore': Yukon opposition weighs in on Klondike mining disputes

The NDP and Liberals are taking aim at the territorial government, as two Klondike miners attempt to evict dozens of First Nations members from homes allegedly sitting on their placer mining claims.

NDP, Liberals says government must help find resolution

Yukon NDP leader Liz Hanson says Yukon's mining laws are outdated. 'First Nations governments have been clearly pressing the territorial government on this matter for many years,' she said. (CBC)

Yukon opposition politicians are blaming the territorial government for dropping the ball when it comes to resolving disputes over mining claims.

The NDP and Liberals were reacting to a controversy in Dawson City, where two placer miners are attempting to evict members of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation from their homes. The miners say the homes are on part of eight placer mining claims they own.

The First Nation is also involved in another dispute over mining claims on Dawson's Dome Road.

"These conflicts are a direct consequence of inaction by the Yukon Party government over the last 14 years," said NDP leader Liz Hanson. 

She says the government has failed to update mining legislation to reflect current land claim agreements.

"It's not just the wild west anymore, and our mining laws don't reflect that," she said. "First Nations government have been clearly pressing the territorial government on this matter for many years."

Liberals suggest compensation

Liberal Leader Sandy Silver agrees that "we probably should have been talking about this a while ago," and it's now up to the Yukon government to find a solution to the dispute involving the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in homeowners.

'We probably should have been talking about this a while ago,' said Yukon Liberal leader Sandy Silver. (Chris Windeyer/CBC)

"No matter how legitimate the miners claims are, I think it's simply unrealistic that after 15 years, to expect peoples' homes to be removed so mining can occur," he said.

Silver suggests some sort of compensation agreement with the miners, "or at least negotiate towards that end."

Hanson, however, rejects that idea.

"On what basis should a public government provide compensation? Is it simply because you staked a claim, or did you invest money? Did you have an operating mine?" Hanson asked.

"There's all sorts of questions that need to be asked before you and I, the taxpayers of the territory, are automatically on the hook."

The dispute over the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in homes and the mining claims is currently being reviewed by the Yukon Surface Rights Board.

with files from Vic Istchenko

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