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Commission seeks public input for Dawson land use plan

Yukon's Dawson Regional Planning Commission has been gathering information to draft a land use plan for the 39,854 square kilometre region.

Dawson Regional Planning Commission gathering information about issues in the region

Dawson Regional Planning Commission chair Debbie Nagano, left, speaks with Anne Bordeleau at the commission's open house in Whitehorse on Wednesday. (Dave Croft/CBC)

The Dawson Regional Planning Commission in Yukon is releasing its work to date for public feedback.

The commission, which is developing a land use plan for the 39,854-square-kilometre area in west-central Yukon, held an open house in Dawson City last week, and another in Whitehorse on Wednesday.

Senior planner Tim Van Hinte said the commission staff have been collecting information on things like minerals, wildlife, protected areas and climate change in the area to be covered by the plan.

They have also been researching key planning issues and interests, he said.

"We know there's heavy mining activity in the Dawson region, there's also a lot of important fish and wildlife resources," said Van Hinte, at the Whitehorse open house.

He said the goal of the commission is to answer questions about where mining should happen, where fish and wildlife should be protected, and generally what the best use of land is, in the region.

The vast Dawson land use planning area in west-central Yukon is adjacent to the Peel Watershed region. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Commission chair Debbie Nagano, a member of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation, said the plan should make life easier for people in the region.

"We have so many different interest groups, committees, different boards, policies," she said.

"[The Yukon government] has some, the First Nation has some, you know, the mining interests also ... they want to get on with their business of the day and there are so many different guidelines that you have to follow."

Peter Tallman, the president of Klondike Gold Corp., said his company has 600 square kilometres of mining claims just outside Dawson City.

"I just want to make sure everyone knows that the exceptional mineral potential for gold within the [Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in] lands is something that they should consider for their own right for the future," he said.

"And so access to having people like my company explore and get on to see if there's anything there, is kind of a critical part of that," said Tallman.

Senior planner Tim Van Hinte says the goal is to generally find the best use for land in the Dawson region. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Commission member Art Webster said last week's open house in Dawson City was well attended.

He said people were more interested in gathering information than raising concerns at this point in the process.

Van Hinte said the commission hopes to release a draft plan next year and then present a recommended plan to the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in and Yukon governments in 2021.

The Dawson land use planning process began years ago, but was put on hold in 2014 when Yukon's Peel watershed planning process ended up before the courts. The Peel case was settled in late 2017 and the Dawson land use planning process was re-started last year.   

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