††††††† Whitehorse, Yukon
††††††† Wednesday, April 13, 2005 ó 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: † We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
In recognition of the signing of the Kwanlin Dun final and self-government agreements
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, on February 19, the Kwanlin Dun First Nation became the 10th of Yukonís 14 First Nations to sign its final and self-government agreements.
Today I will be tabling these agreements, which became effective April 1, 2005, pursuant to our legislation, An Act Approving Yukon Land Claims Final Agreements and the First Nations (Yukon) Self-Government Act.
There will be many issues ahead for this new government, but with these agreements Kwanlin Dun now has the foundation on which it can build a strong, democratic self-governing First Nation and a prosperous future for all.
Kwanlin Dun joins a group of thriving, growing, dynamic First Nation governments that are asserting their power and influence in many positive ways with each passing day, month and year. And as is true in all governments, politicians give direction and make final decisions, but there are those whose job it is to wrestle with the detail of all the issues every day.
I am speaking of the many public servants throughout our government who assist or work on our negotiating team. There is a long list of negotiating team members, legal counsel and support staff, and at this time I would like to acknowledge the efforts of all those people. These people attended and contributed to the many hours of discussions on the very long list of issues that needed to be worked through in order to finalize these agreements. For their dedication and hard work, we say thank you.
Because of its urban nature, there were many challenges and creative approaches involved in the finalizing of these agreements. That said, Iíd like to commend the City of Whitehorse for its assistance and cooperation in finalizing these agreements. We are particularly looking forward to working with Kwanlin Dun and the City of Whitehorse to bring to reality the dream that is the cultural centre for the Whitehorse waterfront.
The Kwanlin Dun treaty will bring real and meaningful benefits to all of us ó Kwanlin Dun members, Yukoners and all Canadians alike. It provides for certainty and creates clarity for the future. It will allow us to build on the partnerships we have established and to work toward economic growth and healthy communities.
In summary, these agreements set a solid foundation for the Kwanlin Dun First Nationís growth and development. Kwanlin Dun will be able to set its own path to the future and the Yukon government is proud to support Kwanlin Dun as it moves to this new part of its history.
Mr. Hardy: Iím pleased to rise on behalf of the official opposition to pay tribute to the people of Kwanlin Dun First Nation on the finalization of the land claim and self-government agreements. This is a very significant event in our history, both because Kwanlin Dun has the largest membership of any First Nation in the Yukon and because so much of Kwanlin Dunís territory lies within the municipal boundaries of our capital city. It has taken a struggle of more than 30 years to get to this point, Mr. Speaker, and a great deal of credit goes to the elders and the leadership of Kwanlin Dun, both past and present, for their vision and commitment.
It is also important to recognize the hard work and dedication of those from all orders of government who have been directly involved in the negotiation process over the years. While it would not be fair to single out any particular individuals for the role of negotiating the Kwanlin Dun First Nation Final Agreement, I am sure the House will allow me to mention one person in particular whose name has been intimately associated with the land claims and self-government cause in the Yukon from the very beginning. Of course Iím referring to the late Chief Elijah Smith, who was a Kwanlin Dun member and who led the delegation to Ottawa to present the federal government with the historic document Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow.
The journey from that moment to the events we are honouring today has been long and arduous, but itís a journey that has strengthened all of us who call the Yukon our home. The challenge now for all of us is to remain true to the vision of working together day by day, not for ourselves but for our children and our childrenís childrenís tomorrow.
Ms. Duncan: I rise to join my colleagues in the Legislature on behalf of the Liberal caucus to pay tribute today to the Kwanlin Dun land claim and self-government agreement. Iíd like to share with the House the special invitation that Kwanlin Dun extended to their treaty-signing ceremony wherein they said, ďOn this day, Kwanlin Dun is beginning a new era as a self-governing First Nation. It represents a great milestone in the history of our First Nation. We want to celebrate our future, remember our past and pay tribute to the many people who over the years have helped us reach this new chapter in the history of our First Nation.Ē
Today in the Legislature we pay tribute to the Kwanlin Dun First Nation and all those who assisted in them reaching this milestone. I would also like to pay tribute to Yukon and Canadaís negotiating team as well as, of course, the ratification committee and those involved in the final votes. This is truly a historic day in the Yukon, and I offer my heartfelt thanks to all those who have been involved in helping us together reach this milestone.
In recognition of Law Day
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I rise today to pay tribute to Law Day. Law Day is an annual event recognizing the anniversary of the proclamation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms 22 years ago. The Canadian Bar Association recognizes Law Day this year on April 15, but the Yukon chapter is holding their events next week, so I thought it was appropriate to make this tribute today.
Laws are one of the important pillars upon which our society is built. They reflect our values and our morals. They tell us who we are as a society. Law Day and Law Week is a time for us to get to know our legal system better and to pay tribute to the professionals for the hard work they put into it. The theme for this yearís Law Day is ďAccess to Justice ó Alternative ApproachesĒ.
Here in the Yukon, we can take pride in the alternative approaches we take to justice ó for example, the Department of Justice partners with First Nation communities across the territory in community justice projects. These projects are culturally sensitive alternatives to the mainstream justice system, such as circle sentencing and healing circles.
I would encourage everyone in this House to participate in the activities organized by the Yukon chapter of the Canadian Bar Association next week, from April 18 to 22. These activities include information sessions on wills, employment law and working in non-profit organizations. There is also an opportunity to meet the Supreme Court Judges and to attend a mock trial, where you can become part of a jury.
And, of course, there is the 15th annual Law Day charity run and walk next Friday. The proceeds of this run will go to the No Fixed Address Outreach van.
I would like to close by congratulating the volunteers who make Law Day and Law Week a success. Again, I encourage all members of this House to participate in some of the many particular and fun activities.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Cardiff: I rise on behalf of the official opposition to pay tribute to Law Day as well. Law Day is a national event when the Canadian Bar Association celebrates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This year the theme is ďThe Law: Its Importance to You.Ē
The importance of the law to us all is very evident, when we consider the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We are justly proud of our Charter, which underlines the basic values that we have as individuals and as a nation. Under it, we all have equal benefit and protection of the law, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, age, mental or physical disability and sexual orientation.
The Law Day theme of the importance of the law is certainly appropriate in the Yukon. One of the important services we enjoy, which provides equal benefit and protection of the law, is legal aid. The Yukon Legal Services Society offers services to people of modest income through two legal aid clinics. Having two clinics avoids the conflicts of having two lawyers from the same office representing opposing views. This is particularly important in family law matters.
Another service that is important to Yukoners is through the Law Society, which allows access to any lawyer for half an hour for a minimal fee. The importance of the law to us is seen through educating ourselves about the law and for advice about the law. Our Yukon Public Legal Education Association provides that valuable service to Yukoners.
In the Yukon, the Yukon branch of the bar will be celebrating Law Week next week, and they are sponsoring, as we heard earlier, the charity walk on Friday, April 22, and the other events noted by the minister. Theyíll be advertised in a newspaper supplement on April 15 and we look forward to the usual educational and fun events that that week brings.
Ms. Duncan: I rise on behalf of the Liberal caucus to join other members of the Legislature in a tribute to Law Day.
This year on Law Day we celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Law Day is also a time for educating and informing the public about the role and the importance of the law and the justice system in peopleís lives. The public learn about the law, the legal professions and some of the legal institutions that form the cornerstones of our Canadian democracy. There are a number of events that take place in recognition of Law Day, as my colleagues have mentioned, and I would encourage Yukoners to attend and to take part in the events.
I would also at this time like to congratulate all members of the bar in the Yukon and volunteers and individual organizations who work throughout the year and who organize and celebrate Law Day in the Yukon. I would also like to express my thanks to the public and private sector sponsors who support the Law Day activities.†
In remembrance of Peter Milner
Mr. Rouble: Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to our former director of sport and recreation, Peter Milner.
Following a brief and courageous battle with cancer, Peter passed away on February 9, surrounded by his loving family. Long known for his positive and happy personality, Peter leaves a legacy that will live on in the memories of the people he came into contact with.
Peter began his influential career at the Yukon government back in August of 1988, when he travelled with his family to Whitehorse from Revelstoke, B.C. His original position was director of the sports, arts and recreation branch in the Department of Community and Transportation Services. He was also a driving force on the Arctic Winter Games International Committee; B.C. Winter Games Committee; the first Yukon government interdepartmental committee for youth initiatives, which was instrumental in establishing a youth investment fund that is still operational today; establishing the first aboriginal sport development office, in partnership with the Council of Yukon First Nations and Skookum Jim Friendship Centre in Yukon; the Great Northern Ski Society; in 1992 and 2000 the Whitehorse Arctic Winter Games Host Society; the Canada Games Council board of directors. He was the chair of the Interprovincial Sport and Recreation Councilís fitness and recreation committee. Peter was an integral part of the 2007 Canada Winter Games bid committee and Host Society.
On January 1, 2004, he began his term appointment as a special project manager for the 2007 Canada Winter Games. His involvement with the Canada Games started much earlier, however, first as an athlete with the Quebec rowing team that won a bronze medal in 1967, and then in 1991 as a strong advocate for bringing the Canada Games to the north for the first time. This passion and commitment over a 10-year period were the key ingredients to the games being awarded to Yukon in 2001.
Since arriving in Yukon, Peter has been a role model, a mentor and an inspiration for hundreds of Yukon athletes and their families, coaches, trainers, the cultural delegations and the chef de mission and for countless events, including Arctic Winter Games, Western Canada Games, North American Indigenous Games, Canada Senior Games and the Canada Games.
And, Mr. Speaker, on a personal note, he was a great neighbour and a good friend.
Peterís skilful planning helped to build hockey and curling rinks, swimming pools, recreation and community halls, baseball diamonds and soccer fields, cross-country ski trails and alpine ski facilities throughout the Yukon.
While Peter contributed a great deal toward improving the Yukonís sport and recreation infrastructure, his real talent was working with people. Peterís leadership and vision forged the decision-making process that benefited the communities and permitted collaboration as opposed to competition.
Peterís personality was his greatest gift. His easy-going nature and his constant smile appealed to all who met him. He worked with everyone involved in sports: the coaches and trainers, the athletes, the parents, event organizers, sponsors, officials, referees, community leaders, politicians and many others involved with northern sports and recreation.
He was unequalled as an ambassador for the Yukon. Peter was well known across the north and the rest of Canada through his unwavering participation in many sport planning committees and teams he accompanied over the years. His dedication, passion and good spirits were well recognized at the many national events he attended, and his reputation as a guiding force in northern sports was earned at these events.
Many Yukoners, including me, can attest to getting some bit of guiding advice that Peter gave to them in their efforts to reach higher and further in their competitions and personal development
Peter also had a great influence in the Yukonís arts community. He had a background in music and community theatre and understood the important role that the arts play in community development.
He gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of the arts later in life, undertaking a specialized and unique study in banjo playing and bluegrass music. Peter was always open for opportunities or excuses to play his banjo: Arts in the Park, the Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival, which is now an annual event that he helped found, or during a profound travel-restricted snow storm at the 2003 Canada Winter Games in New Brunswick. Also, seniors from around Yukon will never forget Peter playing his banjo for them as they arrived at the Team Yukon pep rally the night before opening ceremonies.
Many in government remember Peter as a guy who got things done. He was passionate about his work and that passion was echoed by the people working for him. He had horrible handwriting, a great roar of a laugh and was fiercely supportive of his staff. Some say Peter was such a successful team builder because he infected everyone with his unwavering vision and passion, so much that it was hard not to get excited about participating.
Some believe this to be his true talent. He was inspiring, entertaining, encouraging, compassionate and a whole lot of fun to be with. Mr. Speaker, if you werenít having fun, he constantly reminded you that the objective was, indeed, to have fun.
Peter embraced life and he approached each day with the same curiosity, passion and desire to surround himself with people to share lifeís adventures. Weíll miss his passion and dedication; weíll miss his cheering and coaching; we will also miss his unyielding commitment to promoting sports and healthy lifestyle choices for our youth.
But, Mr. Speaker, overall weíll miss Peter as a kind and helpful man, father and husband who gave so much of himself to encourage others to get involved, not just in sports and healthy living, but in celebrating all that life has to offer.
Mr. Hardy: On behalf of the NDP, I rise to pay tribute to Peter Milner. His involvement in the Yukon sports scene can best be summed up by a comment made by his friend, Vern Haggard, which I read awhile back in the newspaper. That was, ďNo individual has had a greater personal impact on where we are, the policies that are in place, and where we are going in the future.Ē
His accomplishments, which my colleague has listed, are many and varied, and when you look at them, they are really quite astounding. His belief in sports as a vehicle for improving the quality of life for all was demonstrated daily by his commitment to helping others.
Whether it was the Marsh Lake ski loppet, the Canada Winter Games project or the Arctic Winter Games, Peter was always there, always encouraging and always helping people.
I got to know Peter quite well, actually. I was involved with the last two Canada Winter Games and the Arctic Winter Games, and I got to know Peter through them. I would often go to his office when I had questions or I was confused about something, wanted some clarification, or when I had a gripe about something that was happening, and Peter was always receptive. It didnít matter what he was doing ó he would stop what he was doing and invite me in that little cubical of his, sit me down and we would go over it. Of course, because I was doing so much with hockey, he would very quickly call Vern Haggard in and say, ďWhy donít you take care of Todd, pleaseĒ, and he would shuffle me off.
But I always knew that any time that I had a question on anything I wanted an answer to or just some clarification on, Peter was there and the door was always open. Thatís extremely important for the territory, for the people who work here, to know that that kind of attention to detail and concern that a person has for other peopleís involvement is always there, and Peter had that.
Now going back, I was really surprised. I went to a little concert a few years ago featuring a band named Disturbing the Peace. I went to this because I like bluegrass music, as I like many other types of music, but Iíve never understood why anybody would play the banjo; itís got such a sound to it. Anyway, I went to this concert and when I walked in and looked up on stage there was Peter, and he had a banjo. You know, I was really astounded because he had never ever indicated to me that he played a musical instrument. Later he told me that he had just taken it up. I was really astounded and really inspired, because I play guitar. I try to play guitar; Iím a lousy player. And here was somebody who was playing and playing in public and willing to stand up there and show people the joy of music and the joy of performing and sharing that music. I wonít do that; I play privately. It was a real inspiration.
Now, of course, anybody who picks up the banjo becomes the brunt of many banjo jokes. His colleagues, the band members of Disturbing the Peace, never missed an opportunity to take a little shot at Peter and his banjo. It was always funny to watch and Peter was so gracious about it. You know, it was teasing and it was fun, but he was always so gracious about it. I went on to see Peter and his band play in many places, including the Bluegrass Festival, which he was such a part of creating in Haines Junction. In that case, the bluegrass community has lost a great person as it continues to grow here.
Now, when I think of the contributions that Peter has made, I think of the contributions to music, I think of contributions to sport, and the contributions from knowing him and the friendship and support he always offered me or anybody else I knew who dealt with him.
I can only think, ďThank you, Peter.Ē The Yukon has lost someone who contributed so much to where we are today, and we were very fortunate to have his guidance and the friendship he offered to everybody.
My condolences go out to Peterís family and friends. I know he is going to be sorely missed throughout the Yukon.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Ms. Duncan: On behalf of the Liberal caucus, I would like to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of Peter Milner. Mr. Milnerís accomplishments have been outlined extensively and far more eloquently today by my colleagues than I can do. I would just like to share that in my experience working with Mr. Milner in government in the debates around the Canada Winter Games and proceeding on that initiative, it was quite clear that Mr. Milner was the ďgo toĒ guy and the consummate public servant.
His tremendous contribution to the Yukon in the sport and arts communities will be sorely missed. Perhaps the best way to honour him is to ensure that he is well remembered throughout the Yukon.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
National Public Safety Telecommunications Week
†Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I rise today to pay tribute to National Public Safety Telecommunications Week. The week of April 10 to 16 has been designated to celebrate and honour the men and women who respond to emergency calls, dispatch emergency professionals, and render life-saving assistance to the citizens of the Yukon.
In times of intense personal crisis or community-wide disasters, the first access point for those seeking all classes of emergency services and security information is 9-1-1. The RCMPís operational communications centre operators are the first and single point of contact for persons seeking immediate relief during an emergency, as well as those seeking to report suspicious behaviours, unusual incidents or security concerns.
It is important to recognize and celebrate the hard work of those dedicated professionals. In our time of need, they are always there, ready to respond and help. We honour these men and women and thank them for their individual roles in making our communities and homes safer every day.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are there any further tributes?
Introduction of visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
†Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the indulgence of the House to turn our attention to the gallery. It is indeed an honour to introduce a former member of our Yukon Legislative Assembly, a former Chancellor of Yukon College and the former Commissioner of the Yukon, Mr. Ken McKinnon. Welcome, Ken.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Mr. Speaker, I rise to ask the House to help me welcome some of Kwanlin Dunís leadership. We have Councillor Edith Baker, Councillor Leslie Smith, Councillor Allan Taylor, and Councillor Leonard Gordon, Sr. Welcome.
Speaker: Are there any further introduction of visitors?
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask members of the Legislature to join me in welcoming a constituent who has joined us in the gallery today, Carole Bookless.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure, as well, to ask members of the House to welcome two constituents from beautiful Porter Creek North: Mr. Lewis Hartland and former City of Whitehorse Councillor Mr. Samson Hartland.
Speaker: Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
†Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling the Kwanlin Dun First Nationís final and self-government agreements and the required order-in-council.
I also have for tabling the report on electoral reform.
Mr. Fairclough: I have for tabling a letter thatís addressed to the Premier from a constituent from Carmacks, following pages and letters to the Minister of Education and the Premier. There are 160 names on this letter. Itís not a petition, Mr. Speaker, but itís a letter stating how many members of the community of Carmacks do not want to have the addition on the school.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I have for tabling the annual report and audited financial statements of Yukon College for the period ended June 30, 2004.
Hon. Mr. Lang: I have for tabling the Government Summary Contract Report by Department (April 1, 2004 to January 31, 2005).
Speaker: Are there any further reports or documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Cathers: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Canada to engage with the Government of the United States of America to ensure that new measures for increasing border security do not interfere with Yukoners and Alaskans continuing our unique cross-border relationship, which includes recreational travel, access to medical and dental facilities, and commerce, including the purchase of a wide variety of services and goods, ranging from recreational vehicles and sporting goods to clothing and food supplies.
Mrs. Peter: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to work with the governments of Canada, Alaska and the United States to establish a mutual border-crossing protocol to ensure that residents of Yukon and Alaska will not face any undue financial or administrative barriers that would prevent them from travelling freely between the two jurisdictions.
Mr. Rouble: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to continue supporting the growth of Yukonís information technology sector, one of our key strategic industries, as part of the overall economic strategy to diversify the economy.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Is there a ministerial statement?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re:† Business loans, outstanding
Mr. Hardy: I have a question for the Premier to follow up on a matter I raised yesterday. Why is the Premier allowing a member of his Cabinet to ignore a debt of $300,000 to Yukon taxpayers, when his own government spent nearly half a million dollars to identify a smaller amount that former Dawson City officials may or may not owe to the municipality?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: In the first place, this government hasnít ignored any of the delinquencies in the loans portfolio. In fact, weíve brought this portfolio to a point where we are bringing closure to it. The remaining delinquencies are in collection.
With respect to Dawson City, the member well knows that there is much more to the issue than what may have transpired with citizens involved in running the municipality. There were questions raised about why the former Liberal government allowed the City of Dawson to overextend its debt limit by millions and millions of dollars, Mr. Speaker.
So the member opposite should reflect all the facts of the matter. The money is well-spent: a few hundred thousand dollars to determine what happened to millions of dollars of taxpayersí money.
Mr. Hardy: There are so many double standards at play here, itís hard to know where to start. Letís look at an obvious one: the double standard that exists in our laws. If someone owes money to a municipality, they canít run for office, but if someone owes money to the territorial government, they can not only run for office, this Premier will even put them in Cabinet and reward them. This Premier has put more than $200 million of taxpayersí money into the hands of someone who owes the taxpayers $300,000 and refuses to pay it. When will the Premier stop this charade and order his Deputy Premier to pay up or get out of Cabinet?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I must point out again that the debt in question is not a personal debt ó itís a corporate debt ó and it is now under collection, and weíll allow that process to unfold. Upon taking office, we were the recipients of a delinquent file that past governments hadnít dealt with. The member opposite gets confused sometimes on who is in good standing and who isnít. Weíve dealt with the delinquency portion of the loans portfolio, forgiving NGOs, repatriating hundreds of thousands of dollars to the federal government, getting a recommitment of over $2 million, bringing loans into good standing. Now the remaining delinquencies have gone to a financial institution for collection. In conjunction with that, weíve created an access to capital fund with the financial institution, which was another long-standing challenge in this territory.
I think itís fair to say that weíve made great progress on the file regardless of who owes what.
Mr. Hardy: Well, isnít that tough talk from the Premier. Letís remind him that 80 percent of all those debts were paid under other governments. There were only a few outstanding ones, and there are only a few deadbeats who are refusing to pay.
Mr. Speaker, thereís a well-known bird thatís famous for not seeing what it doesnít want to see, but even an ostrich couldnít keep its head buried the way this Premier has in the way he spins words. Yukon people are very disappointed by the Premierís lack of action. Businesspeople who have been paying off their loans want to know why the Premierís giving this Cabinet minister a free ride.
The Premier could have fixed this. He could have supported our amendments to the Conflict of Interest (Members and Ministers) Act so there would be no room for a loan defaulter in Cabinet. He could have amended the Financial Administration Act, as we suggested, so the Finance department could garnishee part of the ministerís salary the way it claws back overpayment on social assistance cheques. He could have amended the Elections Act to make it at least as restrictive as the Municipal Act, but he refuses to do any of these things.
Why does the Premier allow someone to sit in his Cabinet whose unpaid debts would disqualify him from even running for the Dawson town council?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: There are a number of areas that must be corrected. In the first place, this government didnít have to amend anything to have the option of a garnishee with delinquent files on the loan portfolio. That will be a choice of the financial institution, so that is a mechanism they have at their disposal to collect the remaining debt.
Nobody has disputed that a number of the loans that were allocated were paid off; weíre not talking about those in good standing, weíre talking about the delinquent files. Nothing the Member for Klondike has done would preclude him from running for office with the municipality of Dawson. He doesnít owe the municipality any money.
Mr. Speaker, Iíll make this point: it is interesting to see how little value the members opposite, especially the official opposition, place in the hands of the citizens of Dawson, who have on three occasions elected the Member for Klondike to office, knowing full well about this situation.
So the member opposite should really rethink how he has been discrediting the people of Dawson City.
Question re: Dawson City bridge, consultation process
Mrs. Peter: Last week we saw the Premier, once more, trying to stifle the voice of Yukon people who donít agree with him. In this case, it involved the Yukon Party bridge in Dawson City. The Premier accused Parks Canada employees of interfering in an area outside of their jurisdiction. Dawson City is a Canadian heritage site and may well become a world heritage site. Parks Canada had a perfect right to present its views as part of the public consultation process.
The Premierís comments only compound the concerns that already exist about how this consultation is being handled. Will the Premier now apologize for interfering in the consultation process in this way?
Speaker: Before the Hon. Premier answers, Iíd just like to refer the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin back to a March 29 ruling, encapsulating basically that the public interest is not served when members express themselves in a way that impugns the character of other members. Iíd just like the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin to take into consideration that ruling.
Hon. Premier, you have the floor.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Once again, we are going to have to correct the record. Nobody has accused anybody of doing anything.
What is clearly the position of the government is, first, Parks Canada has been involved in this process from its inception.
Secondly, there are a number of initiatives that have happened in the City of Dawson, such as a dike and the paving of Front Street, that had some opposition from Parks Canada with respect to a world heritage site. They proceeded and are completed today.
Third, nothing that we would do with the bridge in Dawson is going to compromise the possibility of a world heritage designation. In fact, weíve gone further. We are saying that the aesthetics of the bridge will be in keeping with the historical theme of Dawson City.
And the last point Iíd like to make is, if this issue of world heritage designation is so important to Parks Canada, why then are they diminishing their presence and their investment in the Klondike?
Mrs. Peter: The Yukon Party government continues to operate in secrecy without true consultation. They narrowed the field of qualified builders by using criteria on a design that hasnít even been decided yet. They are pushing forward on their bridge agenda before theyíve even finished getting input from tourism operators, heritage officials and other concerned residents.
Will the Premier give his assurance that a final decision on the location and design of the bridge will not be made until a true consultation has taken place?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, again, I must correct the record. There has been extensive consultation on the bridge in Dawson, which goes back years. This is not a new concept, a new project, a new initiative, a new idea. There has been consultation on this project for years. The proof is in the many documents on design, on environmental assessment and so forth.
We have made sure that there is a fair process for all concerned, and weíve gone a step further. For the first time ever in the procurement process for the Yukon government, a First Nation has been given direct commitments with respect to this infrastructure, in this case, the bridge ó very significant commitments. Itís the first time ever. Another commitment made by this government, another commitment delivered.
Question re:†††† Attorney General office, devolution of
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, as members well know, our government concluded the devolution agreement with Canada that transferred the authority over water, land and resources to the Government of Yukon. The devolution agreement that has not been concluded with Ottawa is the devolution of the Attorney General function. If this were concluded, the Yukon would have a director of public prosecutions, similar to a provincial Attorney General. A former Yukon Party Justice minister said, ďI think we continue to believe that having this function remain a federal responsibility, like other responsibilities in the territory, hampers the Yukonís ability to effectively deliver and administer services throughout the territory on a justice basis.Ē
That comment was two years ago. Have there been any initiatives by the Yukon Party to work on this devolution issue, as the former minister said, to more effectively deliver and administer justice in the† Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: The simple answer to that is no.
Ms. Duncan: Section 810 of the Criminal Code allows the courts to impose curfews and other methods where there are reasonable grounds to fear that a person will reoffend. In Ontario, the Attorney General announced just yesterday that they are applying to have section 810 of the Criminal Code apply to Karla Homolka upon her release from prison. The National Parole Board indicated that there is a risk for reoffence in this case. The National Parole Board has also said recently that a Yukoner convicted of rape is at high risk to reoffend. They indicated the individual is not to be released yet. Release will happen eventually.
The Ontario government through their Attorney General applied to have this section of the Criminal Code applied upon Homolkaís release. When the time comes for the convicted Yukon rapistís release, how would the Yukon government apply to have this section of the Criminal Code applied?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: For the member opposite, I think itís important to bring to the floor of this Legislature that there is now a Sex Offender Information Registration Act that is updated in the Yukon. The sex offender information registry created under the new Sex Offender Information Registration Act is a federal initiative, and the Government of Yukonís role is strictly administrative. But that registry now exists in the Yukon.
Ms. Duncan: In Ontario, they have an Attorney General. The Attorney General can apply to have section 810 of the Criminal Code applied in these cases. The Yukon hasnít proceeded on devolution of the Crown Attorney. We donít have an Attorney General; we donít have a Director of Public Prosecutions. How does the Yukon Justice minister, then, apply to have this section apply to Yukoners? How does he reassure Yukoners?
The Yukon Party government has in fact done nothing. They arenít working toward devolution. They donít lobby on key justice issues when they can, such as writing the Attorney General in British Columbia, and they arenít reassuring Yukoners when they can that they could apply to have this section released. There are methods.
How does the Justice minister say to Yukoners that he is doing his job, when he doesnít act on these key issues?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: To start with, Iíd like to assure the member opposite that the Yukon territorial government is not responsible for federal initiatives. Secondly, I believe, as a minister and as a citizen of the territory, I feel quite confident in the justice system.
Question re: Highway signage
Mr. Fairclough: Businesses across the Yukon donít know which way to turn when it comes to this governmentís highway sign regulations. My office has received numerous calls and complaints that the process of permitting new signs and upgrading old signs is gridlocked. The department doesnít seem to have a clear mandate from the minister on what rules to apply.
So, what highway sign regulations are being enforced this season? Is it the old ones, the new ones, or none at all? The department doesnít seem to know; maybe the acting minister knows.
Hon. Mr. Lang: We stood down on the sign policy as it was, and I can assure the member opposite that weíre working on it, but this year the sign policy wonít be changing.
Mr. Fairclough: Now that members are saying it, the beginning of the tourist season is approaching very soon ó many businesses have tried to purchase space for highway signs but were unable to do that. Many have inquired about moving their signs or even reducing the number of signs, but they canít get an answer. Itís already the middle of April and there doesnít seem to be any progress. Thereís a huge backlog of permits awaiting action and, from the calls we got, the department right now is in limbo.
Businesses need to act now to get their signs ready for the start of the tourist season. So what is the minister doing to ensure that there are resources in place to immediately deal with the signage requests now that, as he said, theyíre back to the old regulations?
Hon. Mr. Lang: I appreciate the question from the member opposite. Signage has always been an issue in the Yukon, especially from a rural point of view. A lot of the lodges along the highway, a lot of the small communities, depend on signage. Weíre very aware of it. The process for signage is in place at the moment. In fact, if a person is having an issue with signage and canít get an answer, weíve got MLAs. They can bring it to our attention, and we can work on it. As far as a new sign policy, anything that goes forward there will be a lot of public consultation and there will be notice. Our policy is to move forward. I mean, weíre not going to hinder anybodyís signage on the Alaska Highway, or any highway in the Yukon.
Mr. Fairclough: It appears that the minister has taken a step backward. The minister brought in new sign regulations in January 2003. According to the minister, the regulation changes were put into place after extensive consultation and much work by the department. Then the Premier, in typical fashion, put his fingers into the pie and told the Yukon Party executive that the government was backtracking on these regulations. The minister was asked last year to ensure that all Yukoners had an opportunity to be heard on this issue, but he refused to give a straight answer on this matter. Why doesnít the minister take this matter seriously, talk to the business community and fix this mess that he and the Premier have created?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Iíd like to correct the member opposite. Itís not a mess. We have a policy in place. If there are going to be any changes in the future, we are certainly going to notify and work with the electorate out there. I think that at the end of the day we need signage. Weíre putting signs up; weíre not taking them down.
Question re: Medical travel allowance
Mr. McRobb: Iíd like to follow up with the Health minister on his lack of support for Yukon outpatients. Letís first deal with something he said on Monday, because he has confused the House while trying to justify his non-support for our outpatients. He said ó and Iíll quote from Hansard: ďThe Northwest Territories have closed their hospital in Inuvik. They have centred things in YellowknifeÖ.Ē
Well, Mr. Speaker, I can clarify for the House that the Inuvik hospital is alive and well. It is not closed. It is obvious that our Health minister needs to brush up on his understanding of how similar jurisdictions are dealing with their outpatients. Will the minister go back to the drawing board, re-examine the N.W.T. system and how its Health minister is able to treat his outpatients much better than he does?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, itís the member opposite who has the incorrect information. The situation in Inuvik is there is no accreditation for that facility as a hospital. It is operating as a nursing station or as a lesser facility than hospital status. That is the reality of the day, Mr. Speaker. That is why, in large part, the extra travel, centering people into Yellowknife and moving people down into Edmonton.
Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, yes, the N.W.T. does pay more on a daily basis for those travelling, but the members opposite have forgotten and overlooked the fact that there is a deductible of $250 per person per trip. So when you factor in paying the first $250 of the total package, Yukoners are far better off when theyíre required to travel to the southern areas for health care needs.
Mr. McRobb: The minister has dug himself a rather deep hole on this one. The Inuvik hospital is operating. I can confirm that.
Let me help him understand what the N.W.T. health minister does for his medical travel outpatients. He pays for all travel, including cab fares, and he pays for all accommodation at a boarding home, or at least $50 per day for other accommodation and meals, and there is no disqualification period. These subsidies apply from the get-go, not from the fourth day on, as they do under this Minister of Health.
Now, our Health and Social Services minister has done nothing to help Yukon outpatients. Instead heís sacrificing their interests to bring in more specialists. I want to ask the minister why it must be one or the other. Why canít he find a few dollars from within the $75-million windfall to share with Yukon patients who must travel Outside for treatment?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The member opposite is wrong in his evaluation of medical travel and the comparison between the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. The Northwest Territories requires a co-payment, and there are means tests and income testing to determine ó and the only group for which everything is covered is under the uninsured health benefit plan that the First Nations have. Itís covered through the Northwest Territories, which is overseeing the uninsured health benefits for the aboriginal population there.
So the member might want to take a moment before he asks another question and do a total evaluation and total comparison.
Mr. McRobb: Let me give the Health minister an example: weíve been in contact with a Yukon person who suffers from a genetic disease and is required to travel Outside every few months. This person is typical of the majority of our outpatients. Her trips last only for a day or two. Under this ministerís rules, she is required to pay all her own costs for transportation, accommodation and meals. This is an unfair burden on patients like this one. On a broader level, such costs are discouraging patients from dealing with their ailments or even seeing their doctor in the first place. This problem is Yukon-wide. Itís causing more sickness and will lead to heavier costs for our health care system. Will the minister re-examine his pennywise-and-pound-foolish approach and reach out to help those who canít afford to travel Outside for medical help?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: We have in place the same policy that was in place under the previous Liberal government and under the previous NDP government. It has been subscribed to by our government, because it works and it is fair. If the member opposite were to factor in a $250 deductible or co-payment on every one of these trips that this individual makes, you would find that under the north Yukon system, an individual is better off in what is provided overall.
Question re: Adverse drug reactions
†Mr. McRobb: Iíd like to follow up with the same minister on another issue. Yesterday we discussed the problem of adverse drug reactions on our senior population in the Yukon. This problem can accelerate declining health and cause premature death. I asked him whether he could provide any statistics on how this issue affects Yukoners to indicate how widespread the problem is here. The minister told us that not a lot of data is entered into the statistical database for Canada, apparently due to our small population base. In addition, he didnít indicate if Yukon statistics are even kept.
Why does the minister believe Yukon users of prescription drugs arenít important enough to warrant statistical tracking?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The opposite is in fact the reality. We believe in the tracking system that is in place for controlled drugs. There is a three-part prescription that is vetted through an organization in Alberta. If there are problems, there is an immediate alert that goes out. Further to that, Mr. Speaker, there is a system in place where the pharmacy or the pharmacist, if they see a problem with a patientís prescriptions, immediately goes back to the prescribing doctor to see if there is any difficulty. So there are checks and cross-checks. They are working.†
Mr. McRobb: But are we keeping statistics, Mr. Speaker?
Yesterday, I asked the minister whether he would bring to the Yukon a successful tracking system for prescription drugs, such as the PharmaNet program used in B.C. He told us about his three-part system that divulges patient information to an Alberta firm. Aside from security issues associated with that, he went on to admit that his system doesnít resolve several issues concerning the uncontrolled use of prescription drugs in the Yukon. He admitted that his system doesnít address the issue of theft of prescription drugs from seniors or elders, doesnít preclude double-doctoring, doesnít prevent over-prescribing, and doesnít prevent irregular or illegal activity or the circumvention of procedures. How, then, does the minister expect his pet system to address the tough issues found on the streets of Watson Lake, Whitehorse and other communities?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: If what I heard ó the member opposite is accusing doctors of over-prescribing. I take exception. Thatís not fair and not reasonable.
Mr. Speaker, in society people have a choice. They can break the law. That is what is happening in a lot of cases. Itís ridiculous that it happens, especially in this case. The federal government has recognized this issue, and the federal Minister of Health is on record as saying that Health Canada officials will pay more attention to a database it operates to record cases where doctors think a prescription drug contributed to a worsening of a patientís condition.
The federal Minister of Health has carried through on a commitment to spend more money on his departmentís system of monitoring drug safety. The department will also look at setting up a seniors office within Health Canada to bring more attention to medical concerns involving older Canadians, because seniors are a vulnerable group. So there is an initiative underway through the federal government, which has control over a lot of these drugs. Whether theyíre allowed on the market, that is a Health Canada initiative. Whether or not they are entered into the drug formulary is an issue that is dealt with by all political jurisdictions in Canada.
Question re: Health care professionals, recruitment and retention
†Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, a joint report on regional data was released recently by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Canadian Medical Association and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. It was no surprise to hear that there is a shortage of physicians across Canada, and the Yukon is certainly no exception. The Health minister has some history with this issue. In November of 2000, when he was in opposition, he questioned the government about physician recruitment and retention. His words are recorded in Hansard, and I quote: ďThereís a shortage of doctors here in the Yukon. The number of doctors here in the Yukon is actually going down. Itís being reduced because of the policies of this government.Ē
Will the minister tell this House how his policies have improved the situation?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Certainly, Iíd be happy to. What our government has done is negotiate a new contract with the Yukon Medical Association, resulting in increased fee-for-service dollars flowing to the physicians. Weíve put in place a retention bonus of $16,000 a year. Thereís nothing paid in the second year, but in the third year itís a $32,000 retention bonus. Thereís also leave for additional training. The base of health care providers is actually increasing under our watch here in the Yukon and weíre proud of our accomplishments in this area, but thereís much more work to be done.
Mr. McRobb: The situation has changed since the minister complained all right, and the change is for the worse. The national report indicates that 21 percent of northern doctors plan to move away in the next three to five years. When in opposition, this minister characterized the shortage of physicians as a crisis and asked when there was going to be an established policy and program in place to counter that crisis. Letís see how the minister will handle his own question. When is the minister going to release an established policy and program to respond to this crisis instead of just perpetrating it?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Well, weíre not going to perpetrate anything. What we have done is put in place a solid program for addressing the needs of the doctors, and that is a wage and benefit package that encourages recruitment for their training and remaining here in the Yukon. So, that said, we can only look forward to encouraging more doctors to come and practice here in the Yukon.
If the member opposite were to look at the statistics as to the ratio of doctors to the population base, heíd find that the Yukon has one of the best ratios of doctors to the population of any place in Canada. That in itself bodes well and it has increased under our watch and will further increase. As to doctors leaving in two, three or five years, you know, thatís speculation. I canít deal with speculation. If there are adequate indications given by the health care provider, we can go out and further recruit, but there are ongoing recruitments for all categories of health care professionals in the Yukon.
Mr. McRobb: If everything is as rosy as the minister wants us to believe, why are there so many orphan patients in the Yukon?
Now, a month ago this minister said he was working with the Yukon Medical Association on the problem. Several ideas have been offered to counteract this shortage, including one from the president of the Canadian Medical Association.
In a speech to the YMA, the president suggested that Outside medical students and residents could be attracted to the Yukon during their summer holidays. What is this minister doing to follow up on the CMAís suggestion to attract medical students to the territory in time for the summer?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Currently, we donít do it just for the summer; we do it year-round. We have a number of medical students who are doing their practicums here in the Yukon. That is a policy that has been put in place and is in conjunction with the University of Calgary. We also have other doctors who have medical doctors working their way through the system, being mentored and doing their practicums here in the Yukon.
So that is underway, not just for the summer season, but year-round.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Once again, I would ask the indulgence of the House to introduce a distinguished guest. Chief Liard MacMillan of the Liard First Nation is in our gallery today. Please welcome Chief MacMillan.
Speaker: Weíll now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
motions other than government motions
Motion No. 426
Clerk: Motion No. 426, standing in the name of Ms. Duncan.
Speaker: It is moved by the leader of the third party
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to protect the natural park area bordered by Rabbitís Foot Canyon on the west, Mountainview Drive on the east and McIntyre Creek in the south, which is wholly owned by the Government of Yukon, in its natural state as a park area within the City of Whitehorse.
†Ms. Duncan: I appreciate the opportunity to bring this important issue before the Legislature today.
Members have heard me say in the past that youíd be hard pressed to find an issue more important to Yukoners than land. Itís our heart. Weíve heard members share their First Nation knowledge and understanding and speak of their close relationship with the land. We refer to our planet as Mother Earth. We know itís the land that supports our life here on Earth, and we are stewards of our environment.
I want to speak today of a particular piece of land, as the motion reads. Now, wouldnít it be terrific if we could conduct this debate in a walk through this particular area? I can hear the excited cries of members opposite of ďfield tripĒ. It would be wonderful; however, itís not to be, Mr. Speaker. The place for this discussion is here.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: Yes, we would need our showshoes, as the Member for Mount Lorne noted ó today, we would; however, we would certainly also see signs of spring ó a long-awaited spring.
I would like to describe the area. Also, not only do we not go on field trips, weíre not supposed to be using props in the Legislature. I would ask the Speakerís indulgence to just note that obtaining a map of the area under discussion has been particularly difficult in this case, and the best maps have been produced by my constituents, in a map drawn some years ago that has been circulated in my newsletters. There has also been a map available via e-mail that shows the trails in the area. I have under production a newsletter to constituents with the map, and I will table that. I wonít formally table it or file it; Iíll just pass it over to the Clerkís table so there can be copies made for distribution and everyone can see the area Iím discussing.
††††††† I will describe the map for the public record, Mr. Speaker. People who live here and come to Whitehorse to do business are quite well aware that if you drive into town through Rabbitís Foot Canyon, youíll see Porter Creek. If youíre coming in from the north, youíll see Porter Creek on your left and right, but particularly youíll see a hillside part of the ravine. The Whitehorse landfill is on your right, and youíll see the hill and green space to your left. Now, having done your business in Whitehorse or availed yourself of any of the facilities if youíre driving back out of town, up Mountainview Drive, to your left and right you will see green space, as well. Then you can enter into Porter Creek via 12th Avenue. The area I am speaking about has McIntyre Creek as the southern-most natural boundary and these major highway arteries as boundaries on either side.
I would like to describe the area, as well. That is where we are talking about. What I would also like to describe is, briefly, in terms of habitat, McIntyre Creek. If youíre driving up Mountainview Drive, youíll notice on McIntyre Creek there is a small hut, for lack of a more descriptive term. This is operated by the Northern Research Institute, with technical support from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The activity that takes place in McIntyre Creek at that point is to raise salmon fry that are used in the school salmon-in-the-classroom program. If youíre walking through the hallways of Jack Hulland, as I often have the opportunity to do, and many other schools, you will see a fish tank there. At this time of year, there is a piece of blue insulation over it, and it says ďdo not openĒ because it scares the fish. But the salmon fry are released, and many of us in this Legislature have participated in their release. That is where they are raised.
There is also, of course, a well-known beaver population in this area. This is also the home of a significant bird habitat. Just the other day I was driving up Mountainview Drive around lunchtime and a coyote passed right in front of me. Itís a wildlife corridor.
The members who were in this House in the early 1990s will recall that when the electric fencing was installed at the Whitehorse landfill, there was a significant difficulty with ageing bears who were in that green space as they had been deterred from the landfill site.
Thatís the area in terms of wildlife and my list is by no means conclusive or identifies all the wildlife in the area. It does give all members, I trust, an idea that this area is a wildlife habitat.
In terms of people and their best four-footed friends, this is a very well-traversed area. We walk, we walk with our pets, we ski, we mountain bike in this area. Educationally there are many classes in the area that use this area extensively. Particularly I think of Mr. Petersí grade 5 class and Ms. Beemerís grade 2 class at Jack Hulland School that are frequently seen heading to the area for outdoor activities and nature studies.
And those are just the classes from Jack Hulland, with which I am most familiar. I am certain that Porter Creek Secondary School as well as Holy Family School and other schools in the Whitehorse area use this particular area.
It is also the home to the Trans Canada Trail. It is also well-used by the scouting movement. In particular, the Brownie units that meet in the area use this. There have also been two very high-profile negative situations associated with this particular green space in Whitehorse. A very high-profile assault case occurred in this area. As has been pointed out some years ago and has been pointed out at several meetings, residents have begun to take the trails back and have begun to extensively use the area again after a short time away from it.
Although my home is not in this specific area, I personally have used it. My family has used it, as well as residents and the constituents in this area and throughout Whitehorse. We share it, I should say, with the natural creatures with which we share our land in the Yukon.
So the question becomes: why am I bringing this particular discussion to this Yukon Legislative Assembly? Itís a very specific area I have discussed, although the environmental issues, of course, are Yukon and international. Why bring this discussion of this specific area to the Legislature? Well, there are a number of reasons. First of all, thanks to devolution and the devolution agreement that has been concluded by our government, the Yukon government has control over the land, water and resources in the territory. We are no longer trying to obtain land through some far-off Ottawa body. Control rests here with Yukoners.
Of course, one of the key issues that Yukoners have dealt with and are continuing to deal with in respect to land, in conjunction with Canada and First Nations, is the land claims. The Kwanlin Dun land claim was tabled today in the Legislature. It was concluded and the implementation date was effective April 1 of this year. This is not a land selection, and thatís important to note. The area I am discussing is not an area that Kwanlin Dun has selected.
Yukon government, also thanks to the Parks and Land Certainty Act ó there are several sections for establishing new parks. The Parks and Land Certainty Act outlines public participation in the creation of new parks, and it says that the Commissioner in Executive Council Office shall ensure thereís opportunity for public involvement in the selection of the boundaries and determination for the purpose of a proposed park.
There may be a committee appointed to determine the park. A park could be an ecological reserve, a national environment park, a wilderness preserve, a recreation park or any other type of park that there are regulations set out for. Before a park is established, there are a number of steps that have to be dealt with, including public consultation.
In the Parks and Land Certainty Act, it also says that land to be included in a park shall be Yukon land. I believe Iíve established for the record that this area is Yukon land.
This land is owned by the Commissioner. Thanks to devolution, itís not the subject of either Kwanlin Dun or Taían Kwachían land selection.
The land is owned by Yukon. Yukon, through the Parks and Land Certainty Act, has the ability to establish a park, and the motion that Iíve brought forward to the House today asks that the Government of Yukon give consideration to doing this.
Enter the aspect of this discussion that this area is within the City of Whitehorse. So there is a relationship between this government ó the Yukon Legislative Assembly ó and the City of Whitehorse. Iíd like to provide members with some background with respect to that.
In October 2002, the City of Whitehorse adopted an official community plan. I note the date particularly ó October 2002 ó as many of us in this Legislature were occupied with other things then. What the official community plan indicates, contrary to what I had understood, is that part of this area that Iíve just described is for future development. The City of Whitehorseís zoning bylaw gives effect to the official community plan, and the zoning bylaw, as proposed, would carve the area Iíve described in half and propose that half the area be zoned in such a way that future homes could be constructed in that particular area.
Now, the zoning bylaw is currently under discussion and I have, on behalf of constituents, registered their concerns. Iíve lobbied the city and we have held a recent public meeting in this respect. I have undertaken to also write the city and appear at the public hearing on April 25.
I still believe that there should be a discussion here about this particular issue for the other reasons Iíve mentioned already in that the land is owned by the Government of Yukon and itís not a selection of either of the two First Nation governments in the Whitehorse area, and because of the wildlife and natural habitat areas, and also because of the residents in the area, the use of the area, the coexistence and the relationship we all have with the land.†
Iíd also like to note that why it is the subject of some discussion ó I know that we have the devolution and the conclusion of the Kwanlin Dun land claim. We also have a situation where the Yukon population is growing ever so slightly sometimes and our divorce rate is also unfortunately the highest in the country. I mention both these points. There is an extraordinary demand for lots and for development in the Whitehorse area. The Government of Yukon is the developer of lots. The budget speech notes that there will be lots developed by the Government of Yukon near Haines Junction. There are also new phases of Copper Ridge in the line items of the budget.
Quite clearly, the City of Whitehorse needs more lots. There have been a high number of sales. There is a demand. There is also an understanding between the Government of Yukon and the City of Whitehorse that we should have a two-year supply of lots at any given point in time. Why I want to discuss this is because the Government of Yukon owns the land and develops the land; the City of Whitehorse deals with the zoning.
Just to reiterate, the City of Whitehorse developed the official community plan. The official community plan, I might add, covers such issues as parks, green spaces, and educational reserves that are requested by the Government of Yukon and discusses such other things as greenbelts in our area. I note from the cityís documentation, in the parks and recreation information that they put out, that there is a purpose to the greenbelt designation, which is to protect areas of recreational significance, wildlife habitat, to provide a contiguous greenbelt in Whitehorse, and to augment significant wildlife corridors and environmentally sensitive areas.
There is also reference in the official documents from the City of Whitehorse to the current Chadburn Lake park reserve. It is also noted that the Chadburn Lake park reserve is encouraged to be extended from Schwatka Lake to the southern and eastern boundaries of the city to include Grey Mountain. The Commissioner of the Yukon will be requested to extend the Chadburn Lake park to include Grey Mountain and Long Lake as part of the park reserve. What that means is that itís the intention and belief of the City of Whitehorse that they would have to come to the Government of Yukon to say they want this park reserve to be larger.
I am doing exactly the same thing today. I am coming to my colleagues in the Legislature and asking that they consider making the area Iíve described a park area within the City of Whitehorse.
Recognizing that the City of Whitehorse is responsible for the zoning in the area, I have made this same view known to them. Residents do not want this development. Itís not a case of ďnot in my backyardĒ; itís a case of living in a wilderness city and we truly appreciate that. We recognize our role as stewards of the environment. I would note also that Porter Creek has a limited amount of green space. When we look at the cityís view of extending green space in one particular area, residents of Porter Creek can well ask, ďWhy not this area as well?Ē
I should add that Versluce Meadow is also in Porter Creek. That was a lands operation. Their lease on the land is expiring. The land will revert to the Government of Yukon. The Government of Yukon, through the minister, has indicated that it is prepared to have this land transferred as a park to the City of Whitehorse, and residents are working very diligently on how people envision this park area, what sort of a natural park they see happening, and working with the Government of Yukon and the city to have that natural green space protected. Thatís in the heart of a residential development. The area Iím speaking of is an extension of an area of residential development.
In this discussion of the official community plan and in the zoning bylaw changes, there is also concern by some residents that we have to ensure thereís due process in all this. For example, there had been a commitment by the city some years ago to have an area development scheme. We havenít seen that.
And there is often a question of where does that fit?
Iíd just like to speak briefly, if I could, about my history and involvement in this particular issue and where it has been up until now and outline again why I believe the government should act in this particular area.
In 1997, I presented on behalf of constituents a petition to the Yukon Legislative Assembly. The petition said that the residents of the Porter Creek area desire to protect the diverse ecosystems and natural attributes of the Commissionerís lands bounded by Rabbitís Foot Canyon on the Alaska Highway on the southwest and including McIntyre Creek on the south and east, and those lands outlined in red on the attached sketch. We asked the Yukon Legislative Assembly to urge the Government of Yukon to take action to ensure the lands described above are protected ó to designate these lands as a park for the use and enjoyment of future generations of Yukoners. That was the petition I presented on behalf of Porter Creek residents in November of 1997.
The minister of the day responded this way. Without reading in detail the Hansard, the minister essentially said that the settlement and implementation of land claims and self-government agreements is the governmentís top priority. Further consideration would be given to the specific parkland petition once the First Nation land claims are settled in the area. Although our government concluded an agreement with Kwanlin Dun, the vote, et cetera, and the implementation has taken some time, as it does, and the Kwanlin Dun First Nation land claim has only just been concluded.
The minister of the day went on to say that this area has been previously identified as potential future endowment lands for Yukon College. The Minister of Education made a commitment to consult with all the parties involved, including the City of Whitehorse, First Nation governments and the residents of Porter Creek before making any final decisions about the land.
The Minister of Education said that land claim agreements are finalized and in place, and the College community and the public at large could have an opportunity to comment.
The minister also said that the City of Whitehorse has identified this area as one for which an area development scheme should be completed. According to the cityís official community plan at the time, the consideration of the provision of parks, recreation, open space and facilities are among the aspects that should be examined through an area development scheme.
College endowment lands did not happen and have not happened.
In follow-up, I distributed the ministerís response to my constituents and I also met with the Yukon College Board of Governors. Just to set the context for members who may not be aware, at the time these College endowment lands were being discussed, it was also the time at which UBC developed the Point Grey lands as housing, and that was of tremendous concern to residents in that particular area, and it was part of the way the university was financially supported.
I for one, as a member of this Legislature, fully believe the Yukon College should be supported financially. We should not be putting them in the land development business and this land should not be given to the College as an endowment for future development. Residents share that view ó witness their desire to protect it as a natural space. That was 1997-98.
Since then, the City of Whitehorse, as I said ó I understood the area was protected green space. In 2002 ó lo and behold ó it became future development and was cut in half. This is of tremendous concern to residents. To follow up on that particular point, in September of last year, I wrote to the current minister responsible, outlining this background, and asked what discussions had taken place and what the governmentís intention was with respect to the land in question.
So last September I raised this issue with the minister responsible and asked if we could look at this as a park area, to which I received a response that indicated that the City of Whitehorse will be the lead in establishing land use designations and a recommendation that I discuss it further with the City of Whitehorse. I understand the ministerís response. I also point out that the minister has the ability to establish a park under the Parks and Land Certainty Act.
On March 14, I wrote to the City of Whitehorse and made this request on behalf of constituents: ďIím writing on behalf of residents to respectfully request that a portion of the zoning bylaw be rejected.Ē I asked that I could represent constituents at the public hearing on April 25. I also requested that the official community plan be amended to reflect the stated desire of residents, to ensure that the natural boundaries are respected and maintained as a natural park area for future generations.
As the area is within the control of the Government of Yukon, I also, as a matter of courtesy, ensured that the ministers responsible were aware of the views of residents.
The mayor replied and indicated to me that the official community plan states that an area development scheme is desirable. So that came up again. It had been some years since we heard that term referenced. His letter to me also indicated, ďI understand you are working with the planning and development services department to organization a public meeting in Porter Creek regarding a new zoning bylaw. Thank you for your interest in assisting our department in organizing this meeting.Ē That meeting took place on April 7 in my riding at Porter Creek Secondary School.
So we come back to the fact that I have made these representations to the City of Whitehorse and I have made these representations to the Government of Yukon. Why bring it forward as a motion? Why not just let the process happen? I want to remind all members of the Legislature ó particularly, the government ó that they own the land ó the commissioners, all Yukoners. They, acting as Executive Council Office, are owners in this instance. As Cabinet, they also make decisions about development and development of lots. We see that in the budget.
Under the Parks and Land Certainty Act, they also have the ability to make this into what I have termed a ďpeople parkĒ, in that it is well used ó for the Trans Canada Trail, to do berry picking, as a natural wildlife area, to do for this area what they have done with respect to the Versluce Meadow, to ensure that the people of Porter Creek are able to enjoy and protect, for future generations, green spaces within the wilderness city in which we live.
As I mentioned, I have also lobbied the City of Whitehorse. I would just like to emphasize again for my colleagues in the Legislature that residents of Porter Creek South and all of Porter Creek, all residents in Whitehorse, and all of us in here, recognize the need for more lots and to make land available.
The land Iím speaking about is very steep in some areas, and bedrock. Itís unsuitable for development, as those who walk the area will remind you. Behind Tamarack Street, itís also very steep.
Clearly residents would like to have their governments recognize the need for the green space and also recognize that we need to be conscious as a city of our environmental footprint. We are respectfully suggesting, recognizing the need for lots, that the City of Whitehorse and the Government of Yukon look elsewhere. Why is it, Yukoners ask each other privately, that some of the nicest view lots that could be developed are industrial areas within the City of Whitehorse?
I frequently walk in Kulan, for example, which is a beautiful area, but itís all zoned industrial. We have witnessed in recent months a terrible situation where residents have felt like a ping pong ball between the Government of Yukon and the City of Whitehorse over the development of Whitehorse Copper.
I donít want to see any Yukoners go through that kind of thing again. Thatís why Iím lobbying today to my colleagues across the way, to my colleagues on all sides of the Legislature, to support this motion and this idea of the particular area Iíve described to be protected as a park. Itís within the responsibility, it could be done, and itís the right thing to do. Thatís why Iím asking members to support this motion.
Iím also recognizing that the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources has given me fair hearing on this particular issue and has discussed it with me. I also appreciate that there are residents in Takhini and elsewhere in the City of Whitehorse who might see different boundaries for the proposed park area, who might like to see it extended even further, and who would like to see greater areas within our city protected.
I understand those concerns, and if a member wishes to bring an amendment forward or a suggestion that this matter be referred, as a request for a park, to the Minister of Environment and the minister responsible for the land within the City of Whitehorse, I understand that. I appreciate the fact that members have heard me today, have heard from my constituents, and will give fair hearing and fair thought to the idea that we have need for more development in the City of Whitehorse but recognizing also that this is not the area where such development should occur.
I would be remiss, Mr. Speaker, if I concluded my remarks without mentioning the discussion of the lower bench in Porter Creek. The lower bench has often been discussed as an area for development and that residents are very concerned about development in that particular area.
The advice given by the City of Whitehorse at the public meeting held recently in my riding was that that particular area has issues that have to be dealt with before any such development could occur. Namely, there is, according to officials, quite an odour in the area, which has to be dealt with before there can be any kind of development.
Recognizing the need for more lots, we need to take a good look at all the possible areas. We also need to recognize that we live in a wilderness city, that we have made an environmental footprint, that there is limited green space in Porter Creek, that this is an area that is well-used by residents as part of our wilderness area. It is a wildlife corridor; there are key wetland and water issues that need to be respected; and that we need to hear from the people who live throughout the city who have said very clearly for almost a decade now that this area should be protected as a park.
We need to respect their views, as we respect the views of all Yukoners.
Again, I want to thank my colleagues for listening to what I had to say today. By no means have I been anywhere close to as eloquent as all the residents who spoke at the public meeting and who have spoken to me over the last 10 years as their MLA. I would like to particularly highlight the young people in the riding who, of their own volition, have started a petition in this particular area. They take this issue so to heart that they have gone door to door to ask people to sign their petition and to express their views. We need to heed their voices. I look forward to working with them as I continue to work on this particular issue.
Thank you. I look forward to the membersí comments.
Hon. Mr. Lang: Thank you to the member for her remarks and the motion thatís before us today.
Like everything else that we do in government and, of course, in Yukon, there are two sides to every story and every issue. Weíve been working on this issue, as the member opposite said, for many years. We have the city working on lot expansion; we have ourselves ó as Commissioner lands; we have the College; we have all these interacting groups and interest groups that have some voice in what happens to this greenbelt.
As the Member for Porter Creek Centre, I understand the importance of maintaining this greenbelt to the benefit of all Whitehorse. Iím not just talking about Whitehorse 2005; Iím talking about 2055.
Think about the foresight that Lord Stanley had when he put that land aside for Stanley Park in Vancouver. That was a decision made many, many years ago ó they laughed at him. Why would you need that piece of land there that serves no purpose when we could log it and build a dock process there and be done with it? Well, guess what? Stanley Park is a big part of Vancouverís life today, and itís there because somebody, somewhere along the line, had some forethought and a concept of what Vancouver would need in the future. And I think thatís what we need in Whitehorse in many ways.
As the member says, ďWhere is our greenbelt?Ē How does Porter Creek, being the largest subdivision in Whitehorse and, by the way, one of the oldest subdivisions in Whitehorse ó I moved to Porter Creek in the early 1960s. As Mr. Graham said the other night, arguing the city point of view, ďWell, you might be complaining today because of somebody expanding or filling in but, in fact, where your house is today is where Doug and I played when we were kids.Ē So that in fact is right.
We had nothing but green space in Porter Creek when I was a kid. Thatís all Porter Creek was. We had approximately a couple hundred people who lived there, and we were a little community outside of Whitehorse. We were there because we didnít get the overview ó we werenít part of the City of Whitehorse.
I can remember the Casa Loma years ago. The Casa Loma got started because you could dance there. You couldnít dance in any of the lounges in downtown Whitehorse, so they built the Casa Loma so that people could dance. So this is how communities are built.
At the end of the day, we do need recreation areas. I have in front of me the endowment lands thing from Yukon College ó their concept of endowment lands and their need for it.
You know, they want orderly growth and development for the campus. Okay, so thatís what endowment lands would include: a buffer zone between the College and other land users. Thereís another thing that weíre doing as a community: we are trying to make that green space between us and the City of Whitehorse into a usable green space ó preservation of natural heritage of the area. The College is looking at exactly what weíre looking at as a community: an area for leisure and recreational activities. Thatís what they see as endowment land. At the bottom, they say, ďa potential resource base for financial benefits of the CollegeĒ. Endowment lands are associated with many post-secondary institutions in Canada, and that is true. Okay? So there we have it. We have the College with a concept.
When the member opposite talks about the endowment lands and the First Nations settling their land claims and a lot of the issues around the land claims, we had the issue of the endowment lands. The concept was always out there for many years that there would be endowment lands for the College. The member opposite talked about that. In fact, that hasnít been written in stone. The endowment lands has not been addressed, but we as government and previous governments have talked about endowment lands. Also, in the land selection, the endowment lands were brought up to the First Nations as protected areas for a specific reason, and that was the College. So they didnít select the land.
In turn, we have a bit of a catch-22, because in fact they werenít part of the negotiations. They were never part of the negotiations because they were that this was eventually going to be endowment lands, or at least some of it was.
So in other words, there is always more than one side of the story. Porter Creek definitely, definitely uses that area. Itís a fabulous area. When I was a young man, I used to go up to that lake. Now they call it ďstinky lake.Ē We used to go up there. There was a rope, and we used to play around there on our bikes. That was all part and parcel of our social fabric as kids playing in that area.
So it certainly has some background for me and also my family, going back 40 years in the Porter Creek area. So should we have a greenbelt park between Whitehorse and Porter Creek in that area? Certainly, but the process is what we have to look at, and the process has to work, because if we donít have the proper process, we will never have a park.
We have been talking about this park. The member opposite was in government for three years, and there was always a reason why the process ó you couldnít negotiate it now because the land claims werenít done; there was always a reason. Now we have the land claims behind us. That is one issue, done. Weíve got Yukon College, which has some expectations, and justly so. The insinuation on the street has been that there was an endowment lands package coming. We have First Nations who have been told that this was going to be endowment lands and that this was going to benefit the whole community, meaning the College.
So there are issues out there. So what Iím saying to the member opposite ó I donít want to make this long and drawn out in the process of what I would like to see. But I as the minister want to see something work. Now, what I want to do in this motion, this motion that the member opposite had reads:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to protect the natural park area, bordered by Rabbitís Foot Canyon on the west, Mountainview Drive on the east and McIntyre Creek on the south, which is wholly owned by the Government of Yukon, in its natural state as a park area within the City of Whitehorse.
I would like to amend that. I guess we can discuss the amendment after I move the amendment.
Hon. Mr. Lang: I move
THAT Motion No. 426 be amended by inserting the words ďto work with the City of WhitehorseĒó which is a big partner in this ó ďto establish a consultation process involving the Kwanlin Dun First Nation government,Ē because they were involved in the endowment lands and the selection process ó ďthe Taían Kwachían First Nation government,Ē and of course Yukon College has to be involved, ďPorter Creek residents and other stakeholdersĒ after the first appearance of the phrase ďGovernment of YukonĒ.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Lang: Iím sorry, Mr. Speaker, I have to read the whole thing without comments.
THAT Motion No. 426 be amended by inserting the words ďto work with the City of Whitehorse to establish a consultation process involving the Kwanlin Dun First Nation government, the Taían Kwachían First Nation government, Yukon College, Porter Creek residents and other stakeholdersĒ after the first appearance of the phrase ďGovernment of YukonĒ.
Speaker: The amendment is in order.
It has been moved by the Hon. Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources
THAT Motion No. 426 be amended by inserting the words ďto work with the City of Whitehorse to establish a consultation process involving the Kwanlin Dun First Nation government, the Taían Kwachían First Nation government, Yukon College, Porter Creek residents and other stakeholdersĒ after the first appearance of the phrase ďGovernment of YukonĒ.
Speaker: Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, you have the floor on the amendment.
Hon. Mr. Lang: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the 20 minutes I have to talk on the amendment.
I think itís very important, if weíre going to get things done in any issue ó that consultation is very important. At the end of the day, if we donít have everybody at the table, we wonít get anything done.
I think if we were looking at this seriously in respect to how we can get this issue resolved, first of all we have to solve the endowment lands situation. We have to work with the College to make sure theyíre comfortable with any decision we make out there and how they can work as a partner in this.
Of course, itís important that the City of Whitehorse is involved in this. Itís very important, at the end of the day, that weíre all very serious about this negotiation and that we move forward and get this issue addressed and get the Kwanlin Dun and the Taían Kwachían First Nations involved because, in fact, they were told one thing during the land selection and, of course, weíre contemplating doing something else. I think by consultation you will solve a lot of the issues before we get into making the final decision.
I understand the urgency of this, so I recommend that we move forward very quickly on this. I understand the situation in Porter Creek, the concern the residents have that this thing will just be another extension of Porter Creek and eventually it would be eaten up with housing projects. We donít want to see this. We want to make sure that this amendment addresses the fact that, at the end of the day, weíre going to have everybody sitting at the table and weíre going to decide how best to utilize this area, how all these different groups ó of course, we have three governments involved and the City of Whitehorse ó and of course the College. How can we maximize the usage of this area? Thereís approximately 800 acres there. Thatís a ballpark figure, but thatís what weíre talking about.†
Itís a large piece of real estate, but from the point of view of the College, itís important because of the concept of eventually expanding into our trades and everything. They could utilize some of this land for some of the work they do in the trades ó for training individuals in the College. So we have to address those issues, and the endowment lands are expected by the College. They expect us to address that issue.
So letís get to work with them and letís address their issue. Iím not afraid of the College doing anything underhanded. I think the board of directors are very credible. I think that they want a lot of that green space, as does everybody in Porter Creek want the green space. I sometimes think it would be better in the hands of the College in lots of ways than in the hands of other interest groups.
So what Iím doing with this amendment is just cleaning it up. Iím putting ďconsultationĒ into it, instead of a single government decision. But I do want to remind everybody in the House that this is an issue where not only Porter Creek is involved, and not only the territorial government, and not only the City of Whitehorse. The big issue is that three other organizations have been led to believe that different things were going to be done with this, and we as a government are not going to, at any point, stop the consultation and not get some kind of agreement from these other groups to make sure that weíre doing the right thing, not only for Porter Creek, but for the College. We also address the First Nation issues to make sure that they are part and parcel of this consultation, to make sure theyíre comfortable with what happened in the past and whatís going to go forward in the future.
So itís not changing this. The member oppositeís motion is there. All I want to do is make sure that it is very clear in the amendment to the motion that at the end of the day we understand how the process is going to work. Then I want to move ahead with the process, so that at the end of the day we can address the park issue, the greenbelt issue, in Porter Creek, McIntyre Creek and in that area. I understand the importance that area has to the community of Porter Creek and also, I think in time, to the whole City of Whitehorse.
As the member opposite was saying, the people in Takhini have different ideas about how to utilize the area. I donít think they have a different idea of how to use the area so much as they want to build houses on it. I donít think thatís an issue. They want to be involved in what weíre going to do with the park, because a lot of those people in Takhini use the area for different reasons.
If youíre building a new house and you want to put a sidewalk to your house, you wait a year and see where people walk and then build the sidewalk where people walk. That is where our parks should go. That has been sitting there dormant for many, many years and is now utilized as a day park, a day use area, for the people in Porter Creek and Whitehorse. It is an ideal place to put a park, a green area in order to protect it for future generations and maximize the use of that area.
What Iím saying in my amendment is, letís go ahead, letís address all the issues pertaining to that area up front, letís clarify the endowment lands, letís involve the First Nations so that we can explain what weíre doing with the park, what happened in the past, what weíre moving ahead with, and involve the Porter Creek residents to make sure that theyíre comfortable with this.
I think at the end of the day we can come up with a workable package that we as a community of Porter Creek can all live with and that the other interest groups and governments can live with. So itís important that all these bases are covered, and we should work on this sooner rather than later.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McRobb: On the amendment, I was assuming that the mover of the motion would speak first because it would have been interesting to hear her perspective on this proposed amendment to her motion. Without that, I can only guess what her position might be.
But I donít think we in the official opposition have an issue with the amendment. I would describe it as a friendly amendment. It doesnít allow the development to proceed without due process, and the parties identified would seem appropriate to have a seat at the consultation table. If I were to ask to add to the list, I would probably identify residents of the Takhini North area, but I wonít propose any further amendments this afternoon because I think we should bring this motion to a conclusion and hopefully we can all support it.
But to argue in favour of that, I reside in the Takhini North area when in Whitehorse away from my principal residence of Haines Junction, and Iím quite familiar with the area in question because, quite often, we walk out through that area, which is behind the Takhini Elementary School and up around McIntyre Creek and near the College.
In the course of that activity, weíve had the opportunity to meet several other users of that area. Many of them are residents from the Takhini North area. If you look at the layout of the land, the residents of Porter Creek South are on one side of this greenbelt area but, on the other side, there are residents of Takhini. So we canít exclude them either. Theyíre part of the equation.
Mr. Speaker, this amendment ó which does not alter the motion but helps to contribute to it ó shows that the Yukon Party has learned a little bit from its experience about a year ago. I recall a previous motion about bringing the railroad to Whitehorse, where the Yukon Party excluded First Nations from the consultation process. I had to bring in an amendment to correct that error.
So Iím glad that probably a staff person upstairs brought this to the attention of the elected Yukon Party members, and they were able to agree with it and bring it to the Legislature and introduce it as an amendment to the motion. So weíre really making progress here, where the Yukon Party is finally beginning to recognize the rights of First Nations and others as stakeholders and governments in the consultation process.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McRobb: I hear the Minister of Education chirping from across the way, Mr. Speaker. We all see how he has handled the situation in Carmacks with the school and the consultation process he has used, and that is quite a significant departure from the approach the Yukon Party is advocating through this amendment to the motion.
There are plenty of other examples of consultation failures with this government, but unfortunately we donít have time this afternoon to go through them all and we really should try to deal exclusively with the motion at hand.
I plan to speak in favour of the motion, if indeed it is amended. Regardless, I plan to speak in favour of it if I get an opportunity this afternoon.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Mr. Speaker, on the amendment, I think that certainly as amended this motion accomplishes what it has to. The Minister of Energy, Mines and Resourcesí comments about sidewalks bring me back to my undergraduate days at Purdue where they had a huge, huge square with all the buildings around it, and when they did the lawn they did the lawn with grass seed and such and sort of blocked it off and let it sit there for quite some time, which we couldnít quite figure out, until, of course, people started jumping this little wire and started crossing the square. By the next year, guess where all the sidewalks appeared ó one of the better parts of consultation in its rawest form, I suppose. Iíve noticed a few wrinkled noses and such at some points there, but I bring the membersí attention to the Kwanlin Dun First Nation Final Agreement, which was tabled today.
As most of the First Nations agreements, be it land use planning and land use planning councils or even the activities of the renewable resource councils and such, which will now be created in Kwanlin Dun, but one of the mandates in terms of consultation is ó and if I may read the one paragraph out of that: ďto consult with Kwanlin Dun First Nation before making recommendations to the minister and the Kwanlin Dun First Nation with respect to the impact to the following activitiesĒ: on the conservation of fish and wildlife in the traditional territories. McIntyre Creek fits that bill. One of their mandates is item D, on recreational activities. So we would do a great disservice on that and perhaps the Member for Kluane didnít have a chance to read that yet, but it is also found in all the rest of the documents that are there.
Consultation is essential in this, and it is disappointing to hear the Member for Kluane make comments that consultation isnít followed in many other areas.
I go back to the original consultation that I was involved in with the Fish and Wildlife Management Board. Of the 21 recommendations, over time all have been met and yet members opposite still complain and make claims that they werenít, and thatís simply not true.
I certainly support the consultation on the park and ongoing discussion. I have historically on this ó obviously getting first into the fray with the Versluce Meadow and very pleased to see that proceeding in a park with the good assistance of the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. Of course, at the time my concern over the development around Versluce Meadow and keeping that as a park was quite vehemently questioned by the Member for Porter Creek South, who actually is a resident of Porter Creek North, which in fact ó she was quite right ó does not constitute a riding where the park exists.
The humour of it, of course, at the time was representing Porter Creek South, which doesnít encompass Versluce Meadow either.
But that aside, Iím rather glad to see that we can bury the hatchet finally and come to the table and do proper consultation and include Versluce Meadow in this, and include the rest of it. My own feeling is that whole area meets the test of building a sidewalk where people walk or walkways across a square where people walk. That has been there for awhile, it is well-used, and it is well-used by residents in Porter Creek South, Porter Creek Centre and Porter Creek North. People run their dogs in Versluce Meadow, they take hikes in that area, and I would even extend that consultation into the lands behind Crestview, also a very heavily used area in terms of trails and recreational areas.
So I certainly support the amendment and hope very much that the rest of the members agree.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, many comments were made by the mover of the amendment that I would like to address.
First and foremost, with respect to the land selection by Kwanlin Dun and Taían Kwachían, I was at the table. I went through those selections ó extensively. Weíve been negotiating this for 30 years. There are selections within the Porter Creek area. To say that this area was always pointed out as College endowment and therefore wasnít selected does a disservice to the specific land negotiators.
To suggest that there is some expectation that this was always going to be Yukon College endowment lands ó no. That suggestion was made by one government, and the minister read from a document that indicated there is the potential ó which I fear ó of selling that land for the future financial resources of the College. Thatís the concern. Thatís why I used the Point Grey example.
The amendment says ďurges the Government of Yukon to establish a consultation process.Ē Mr. Speaker, the reason I brought this motion forward, the reason I made this very specific request of the government to designate this area as a park is because, under the Parks and Land Certainty Act, they have the ability to do so and the consultation process for establishing a park is very clearly laid out.
All Iím asking the government to do is their job, to make a decision, to put this proposal out as a park. It is not necessarily College endowment lands. McIntyre Creek is a natural boundary. Yukon College is on the other side of McIntyre Creek. It may be that, if itís strictly the wilderness area that the College is looking at, they are of the same view. But that could all come out in the establishment of a park, because there is a clear process laid out for it. There is a clear process in the land claim agreements wherein each First Nation selects an area for a special management area. Perhaps the former Minister of Environment, the Member for Porter Creek North, would like to refer to that section of the final land claim agreement.
Residents and future residents, which include Kwanlin Dun land claims selections, in the Porter Creek residential area, have said very clearly to everyone, ďEstablish it as a park.Ē If the government would fulfill their responsibilities, take the laws we pass and examine them, they would see that there is a very clear process laid out for establishing a park. Start that process. They didnít need to amend the motion to suggest we include a consultation process, because the consultation process is already in existence.
The very real difficulty I have with the Member for Porter Creek Centreís remarks, Mr. Speaker, is that for years and years and years the Taían Kwachían were told that a certain area would be protected as a forestry reserve. That didnít prevent the Yukon Agricultural Association from making an application for that land.
Where was the ministerís comment then, that said we have to follow, First Nations have been led to believe something? This has been outlined as a park. We went through the land claims selection, not necessarily College endowment lands but as green space. Kwanlin Dun knew that at the land table and made their selections. Itís not that they were led to believe that the College endowment had been transferred; they knew it hadnít been done. There was only one government that said that that was going to happen. Land selections were made. Itís a final agreement. There is a process for establishing a park. There is a process for establishing parks within First Nation final agreements. This area wasnít selected as a park by either Kwanlin Dun First Nation or Taían Kwachían First Nation.
This area has been requested as a park by the people who live in Whitehorse, live in this area, by their member, by residents. Theyíve made that request of their governments, and the government responsible for making the decision is the Government of Yukon. The Government of Yukon could act on this reasonable request from citizens. They donít need to amend this motion by outlining a consultation process because the consultation process already exists in the laws of the land. All they have to do is consider the request.
It just seems unfortunate that the government could not accept that there has been a request by its citizens, that they are the government responsible, that thereís a process in existence that they could follow, and that they couldnít simply accept that suggestion.
The other issue that troubles me is the current government making an amendment to suggest a consultation process ó with their track record on consultation. Their track record on consultation has not been a stellar one. They are reminded daily in Question Period about the consultation protocol in existence with First Nations.
The member talked about discussions about the land claims selection table when he wasnít there.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: For those who didnít hear the Member for Klondikeís comments off-microphone, I would suggest that he might perhaps want to make them on-microphone.
The difficulty I have is that we are elected to fulfill our responsibilities, we are elected to make some tough decisions, weíre elected to live within the statutes that govern the territory, to be fair, to recognize ó Iíve said this many times myself to the member opposite. Iíve learned over and over and over again that there are two sides to every story. There are many sides and many people who wish to comment on this particular area of the Yukon. Land is incredibly important.
The salient points are also that the Government of Yukon has the right and responsibility to make choices, make decisions, and there are processes for establishing them. There are processes that are outlined within the Parks and Land Certainty Act. I would ask that they act upon them.
For the benefit of the members opposite, the Parks and Land Certainty Act section 10 outlines public participation: ďThe Commissioner and Executive Council shall ensure there is opportunity for public involvement in the selection of boundaries and determination of the purpose of a proposed park.Ē Itís there in the act. Iím asking the government to look at this area within the act and to act upon it. It wasnít necessary to bring forward an amendment. I think the amendment clouds the issue rather than outlines the issue. The Government of Yukon can make a decision. The Government of Yukon has consultation processes. Those consultation processes of course include work with other governments and include work with the citizens. Act on them.
I could go on and, say, bring an amendment to the subamendment to the amendment and suggest that the government simply live up to section 10(1) of the Parks and Land Certainty Act. Iím not going to do that. Iím not going to go on at great length about this. Itís unfortunate that the government couldnít see past partisan politics and simply accept that the suggestion was offered on behalf of the people of Porter Creek South and of all of Porter Creek about this suggestion for a park area and that government should fulfill their responsibilities.
The Member for Whitehorse Centre has brought forward a motion that members would also like to discuss. Iím not going to belabour this point and vote against the amendment. I would suggest we move on. I would hope that the members opposite have heard what I had to say as opposed to the derogatory remarks that were made off-microphone about what Iíve brought forward today.
I would like to ask the minister to examine the Parks and Land Certainty Act, kick-start a process, put some boundaries out there and letís talk about them, letís look at this area as a park. In terms of the College, if the Collegeís intention is to see this area as a park or if their intention ó as previous members of the Board of Governors have indicated ó is to have a way to be commercially sustainable, then letís deal with that issue.
Letís deal with what the issue is with the College. The College issue should be dealt with in the appropriate forum, whatever the issue is. If the issue is they wish to see a natural green space protected behind the College, as the first few points the minister outlined, then great, that will come out in the Parks and Land Certainty Act. If the issue is the financial future of the College, then letís deal with that in the appropriate forum. The motion today is about establishing this area as a protected area. As itís signed right now within the City of Whitehorse, it belongs to the Government of Yukon. They could take the responsibility; the Executive Council is responsible. They could kick-start the Parks and Land Certainty Act.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Mr. Speaker, Iíd like to just add to this debate and make a few comments and make an attempt to correct the comments made from previous speakers. First, Mr. Speaker, I believe that the opposition is far, far too quick to jump the gun here and accuse this side of the House of not consulting. Mr. Speaker, this government is very progressive, I might say, and it places a very high priority on consultation with every endeavour that this government proceeds with. This government, in my opinion, does its homework.
Now, the member opposite, the leader of the third party, I believe had the opportunity to do exactly what she is expecting this government to do today. Two and a half years in office is a fairly long time for anyone to address an issue like this. I would put the question to the leader of the third party: why didnít she do it? Was it of no interest, or is it just coincidental that itís an interest now that there is an election race on for the leadership of the Liberal Party?
I say that this ó
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Member for Mount Lorne, on a point of order.
Mr. Cardiff: I think itís in Standing Order 19(g) ó the minister is imputing false or unavowed motives to the leader of the third party.
Speaker: Member for Lake Laberge, on the point of order.
Mr. Cathers: The Minister of Education is not in contravention of Standing Order 19(g) in my opinion. He did not state that the Member for Porter Creek South, the leader of the third party, was bringing this forward because of the Liberal leadership race. He expounded and suggested that he wondered whether it might be because of that. I donít believe thatís out of order.
Speaker: There is a point of order, and I would remind the Hon. Minister of Education of a ruling on March 29. That was that public interest is not served when members express themselves in a way that impugns the character of other members. Iíd ask the minister not to do that.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I would call that a very honest mistake. However, the fact still remains that this could have been a priority issue for the leader of the third party when that member was the Premier ó it wasnít.
I also want to state for the record that I was a councillor and part of the Kwanlin Dun government for 12 years. So, over the 12 years, I would beg to differ with anybody if they said that Kwanlin Dun was not interested in that prime real estate in the middle of the city ó of course we were, and of course Kwanlin Dun had discussions and listened to requests from the College about their interest in endowment lands.
There were discussions around the interest of that land by Kwanlin Dun ó one First Nation for a fact that I know of. However, I believe some of the lands were selected but let go for reasons Iím not really up to speed on, but they didnít obtain that land that was on the table when I was a councillor.
But I would say today that I think itís quite important that this consultation does take place with all the different interest groups mentioned in the amendment. That way there will be a definite solution thatís not going to be creating hard feelings or be contested by anyone. So Iíll close at that, saying that I am in favour of this amendment to this motion.
Mr. Fairclough: I would like to speak to the amendment that was moved by the Member for Porter Creek Centre. Itís obvious that the government side agrees with the motion. They agree with the motion, but I believe the amendment is basically reassuring themselves that they need to consult. Thatís what it is ó a reassurance. I do agree with the leader of the third party that consultation processes are already set up.
I donít believe the Yukon Party needed to make this amendment at all, because the consultation processes are laid out in a number of different ways. Itís a commitment they made in their platform. It was said over and over again and, when it came to First Nations, they signed a consultation protocol.
So any time we urge government to do something in a motion, if it is a decision thatís going to have an impact on businesses, First Nation land, municipal governments and so on, the consultation process should automatically kick in. We should not even have to reassure ourselves that we need to consult again on this matter.
Itís not just that government will consult with First Nations and governments and Yukon College, the residents and so on, itís that they want to set up a consultation process on this matter. Itís a simple one that, if they are willing to do such a thing as this, then it would have gone as a normal part of the governmentís process in establishing parks, for example.
Iím even surprised they went down that road.
Iím sure the Yukon Party members are going to stand up and say, in the public, down the road, that there was a motion on the floor of this Legislature and they included the establishment of a consultation process ó theyíll hold it up to people, ďWe said we would do it.Ē
Well, did we not hear this before? Did Yukoners not hear this before?
The Yukon Party said they would consult with Yukoners, and compromise and collaborate ó the three Cís. It is all referred to again and again and again in their platform. This side of the House, when things are being done and decisions are being made by government, constantly refers back to whether or not they have consulted with the public. There is a good definition about consultation through the Delgamuukw court case, and we have brought that up maybe for this government to use as a definition when they use the word ďconsultation.Ē
This is how the Yukon Party consults. Iíve said this over and over again in this House. They make a decision, then they go out and ask the public, ďHow do you like us now?Ē Thatís their consultation process. I just asked the question today about the highway signs and the fact that the minister said that there was extensive consultation on their part to bring in new regulation changes to highway signs ó extensive consultation. But if there was extensive consultation on the process of changing the regulations, then you wouldnít have the businesses coming back so hard and so quick with concerns they have, to the point where the government made a change with a snap of their fingers to go back to the old regulations. It was that quick. It was good to see a reaction like that, but Iím hoping perhaps the Minister of Highways and Public Works would be included in that.
Thatís the kind of thing we have brought to the floor of this House over and over again. Let me bring another one up and itís with regard to consultation. Itís part of the amendment, because they want to establish a process. Well, Iím hoping that perhaps the Yukon Party could go back to their platform, read what they said about consultation, take a look at the consultation protocol they signed with First Nations, and read it over and over again so that, every decision they make, they could have that very much as part of their normal business, instead of the way in which they do things.
I tabled this letter today and I will read a little section of it because I think itís important. An important issue comes up in the community of Carmacks. Thereís a definite demand for the Premier to attend that community to address the matter. Thereís a demand for the Minister of Education to come to the community and address the matter. Many public meetings that were scheduled were cancelled, and the minister has cancelled them. Then the last time the minister was in that community, he said he would not be coming to that community again. So the community, by way of a letter and signatures, is trying to find a way to come to the government because theyíre not going to the community any more. They want to be heard. They want to be consulted in a meaningful way, as is laid out in the Delgamuukw court case decision. I donít think that governments should treat that as lightly as they have done in the past.
There are a number of things that this government has done that have not included First Nations in their consultation process or where this government did not put an emphasis on consultation with First Nations.
When it comes to agricultural land, for example ó spot land transfers, agricultural lands being assigned or being given out to people around the territory ó that consultation process that should happen with the First Nation is very poor.
Letís look at another, in trying to resolve issues, like trapline issues. Iíll bring this up again at another time, but there is a definite misunderstanding, I suppose, by government, or it is their definition with respect to what the final agreements say versus what the First Nation feels it means. Now, I know there are all kinds of lawyers who look at the wording of the agreements to say whether or not this is what it means, and we immediately have a conflict about the meaning of certain clauses in the agreement. Without resolving it and consulting with the First Nations, we only make it worse.
I also see this in a number of different cases with municipalities around the territory.
Iíve also raised this issue with the Minister of Highways and Public Works in regard to the community of Carmacks ó the water distribution system and the sewage system ó and whether or not the First Nation will be part of the consultation process when it comes time for this Yukon Party government to deal with them. The answer I constantly get from the Minister of Highways and Public Works is that they will consult with the community. Are you going to consult with the First Nation, which is part of the community and a bigger part of the territory surrounding the community? Thereís never a definite answer from the minister.
I believe the people there were getting more and more concerned about how dictatorial ó that should be in order ó decisions like this are forced upon them.
It is to the point where itís unfortunate weíre going to have people doing work, probably duplicating work, that should never take place. Iím hoping that members opposite, by hearing what we on this side of the House have to say about their amendment to this motion when it comes to a consultation process, can maybe have an extended caucus meeting upstairs ó the Yukon Party ó and really talk about what consultation means and what processes are laid out in the agreements they have before them that the Yukon government has been a signatory to.
I think once we learn that and we establish that and we practice that in our everyday decisions, we will not be in the positions we are today. So thereís nothing wrong with working with the City of Whitehorse. I think the Member for Kluane said the same thing. We do not disagree with the amendment, but I donít think it even needs to be there: work with the City of Whitehorse to establish a consultation process that involves the Kwanlin Dun and Taían Kwachían, the College, residents and so on.
Iím hoping that the next speaker could get up and say how quickly this is going to happen. It would be interesting to find out how fast we can move on something like this.
I know the Member for McIntyre-Takhini criticized the leader of the third party about why they didnít do it when they were in government, but really, Mr. Speaker, negotiations were taking place and were quite active and we have finalization now, and definitely by that finalization their agreements are protected in the Canadian Constitution. The Yukon government is under the Yukon Act, and it doesnít have, I would say, the protection that these agreements have. So I would say that, if anything, weíre forced to really look solidly at First Nations and what their needs and desires are when it comes to land issues because after all, the land claims agreements and negotiations were basically ó the land, animals and the air and so on, but particularly the land ó the biggest issues at the beginning to deal with because people saw those things disappearing quickly from in front of them, out of their control, and being developed.
Iím hoping that maybe the next speaker will not go off base here and follow the amendment and perhaps talk a little bit about what their definition of ďconsultationĒ is and perhaps lay out what their consultation process is for not just this park but for most things that they do and that they make decisions on in government.
Mr. Cathers: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise today in the House to support this amendment. I believe the idea of protecting the area being talked about has real merit. It is certainly something that, from what I understand, is used by a large number of the residents of the surrounding area in Porter Creek as well as Takhini North and as was suggested, I believe, by the Member for Porter Creek North, it may be used by people in other areas such as Crestview as well.
Mr. Speaker, as was raised by the Member for Porter Creek Centre, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, there are competing views on what to do with this area. This has been an area that has many years of history behind it. There were concerns due to Kwanlin Dunís interest in that area during the land claim process. Other people would like to see this area turned into a park. There are people who would like to see part of it or all of it as College endowment lands, and there are those who would like to see it developed as city lots. I understand Whitehorse City Council is heading down that trail at this time.
It is certainly not the intention of those of us on the government side to be dictatorial.
We have an issue here where certain members of the opposition seem to have trouble making up their minds about what they mean by ďconsultationĒ. In past days, we have seen members of the opposition accuse us of consulting too little, and then they accuse us of consulting too much. Certainly, Iíd be interested to hear from them just what the right number is because one day ó whatever it is ó itís too much consultation, one day itís too little, and they might even be talking about the same issue. In past days, we were being accused of consulting too much on the correctional and education reform processes, which are very major initiatives that the government is undertaking.
Iím also dismayed that the Member for Porter Creek South and the Member for Mayo-Tatchun seem to have very little respect for the City of Whitehorse. This is not a process where the Yukon government should swoop down from above and tell them what should be done.
For years, the government has encouraged communities to do official community plans and area plans, and has told them, ďWe will respect you. We will respect your planning. Yes, there is a point in showing up at all these meetings as we do the plans.Ē But then we see a motion from the Member for Porter Creek South ó ďNo, weíre going to throw the community plans out the window. Weíre going to swoop down from above, kick your plan out the door, and itís done.Ē
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: The Member for Porter Creek South, on a point of order.
Ms. Duncan: I do believe that contrary to Standing Order 19(g), the member is suggesting false or unavowed motives with respect to the official community plan. That is not the intent, nor were those my remarks.
Speaker: The Member for Klondike, on the point of order.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, this is just a dispute between members.
Speaker: There is no point of order. Itís a dispute between members.
Mr. Cathers: I regret if the Member for Porter Creek South found my terminology a little illustrative, but I was attempting to make the point that it has the same effect. Perhaps the Member for Porter Creek South does not realize that what sheís doing is what the effect of this motion unamended would be.
It is disrespecting the City of Whitehorseís planning process. Mr. Speaker, Iím certainly not here to argue the merits of the official community plan, whether what is on the books is what should be there or whether it should be amended. Those are things a community should decide for itself and should be dealt with over time. There should be involvement by the community with particular emphasis, in my opinion, on the views of local area residents.
Iím not an MLA for one of those ridings. I donít represent constituents from there. I donít know what the will on the street in the Porter Creek ridings is, except through hearing from friends or my friends in caucus who represent ridings in that area. I canít presume to speak for what the people there wish, but it would be my expectation that a large number of residents in that area would, indeed, wish to see that area protected as a park. I would certainly support that being proceeded with and looked at.
For the Member for Porter Creek South to stand up here in the Legislature and accuse this government of not consulting ó sheís a fine one to speak. Her track record on consultation, when in government, was not very good at all.
Weíve had the tabling of the Dawson City forensic audit ó a situation where Dawsonís debt was increased beyond the normal limits without consultation.
Mr. Speaker, on this amendment here, itís very important that we do involve the people, that this decision not be made solely in this Chamber. As I said, when in government, the leader of the third party allowed Dawson Cityís debt to massively balloon by having the Minister of Community Services of the day sign off an approval to increase the debt. There was no plebiscite, as provided for in the Municipal Act. Dawson City residents were not consulted.
They shook hands behind closed doors, signed off on their deal with the mayor, and there we go ó
Speaker: Order please. The Chair is uncomfortable with the approach the Member for Lake Laberge is taking in terms of ó the Chair has allowed all members a fair amount of latitude. We heard about the Carmacks sewer project vis-ŗ-vis this motion. Iíve allowed the members some latitude speaking about Dawson City, but I urge the member to speak to the amendment. Member for Lake Laberge, you have the floor.
Mr. Cathers: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I regret if my remarks did not seem to you to be as related to this as you felt it was. I felt that since many of the members opposite ó if not all of them ó had raised discussion of consultation and consultation processes in their discussions on the amendment, I felt that discussion of consultation records was perhaps in order, considering that members opposite had cast slight on how members here had conducted consultation.
Just to briefly touch again on the Dawson issue, I believe that asking the people is in order when you are increasing their debt beyond the normal limits, especially when the Municipal Act indeed provides for that, and that in doing land disposition in which there are many competing views, it is important to give residents a chance to discuss it, to sit down, to try to resolve those conflicts and to reach a solution.
Again, the amendment moved by the Member for Porter Centre revolves around establishing a consultation process with the City of Whitehorse. We do have to respect that the City of Whitehorse has done an official community plan, that the Government of Yukon for years has encouraged municipalities and local area advisory councils to do plans, to do zoning, and theyíre not doing this just for fun.
They are doing it because they have been given indications that their plans will be respected within all the areas that are being referred to ó well, I should say within most of them. Within some municipalities, much of the land may be municipal land. Iím not familiar with the exact land dispositions in all the municipalities, but speaking of local advisory councils, of which I have two within my riding, and of planning areas that have been done without an advisory council, of which I have several in my area ó areas that chose not to form an advisory council but have done zoning ó they have all done so on the indication from government that there was a point in them going through this process. This process allowed them to have some ownership, some control over the plans within their area and that it was not just a wasted exercise.
If we were to not support the amendment put forward by the Member for Porter Creek Centre, we would be leaving the motion with the suggestion that the Yukon government go through its own stand-alone process with no involvement by the city, no stipulated involvement by other levels of government, and it would be sending the wrong indication. This amendment moved by my colleague, the Member for Porter Creek Centre, makes it clear that there will be a consultation process to do this, that it is within the City of Whitehorse planning area, and that other governments ó the Kwanlin Dun First Nation government, and the Taían Kwachían First Nation government† ó have concerns with this. This area has been talked about for many years for different purposes, including Yukon College endowment lands, and it has also been talked about for lot development.
Iíd like to refer briefly to previous debate in this House of November 27, 1997, when the Hon. Mr. Keenan was thanking the current Member for Porter Creek South for presenting the petition related to this issue. Although I donít have the exact wording of the petition in front of me, I understand that it was to protect the diverse ecosystems and natural attributes within the Commissionerís land within this area and to designate that area for a park for use by future generations.
As part of his response, the Hon. Mr. Keenan replied that, ĎďÖthis area has been previously identified as potential future endowment lands for the Yukon College, and the Minister of Education has made a commitment to consult with all the parties involved, including the City of Whitehorse, First Nations governments, and the residents of Porter Creek before making any final decisions about that land.
ďOn May 1 of this year, the Minister of Education told this House that she would ensure, ďland claims agreements are finalized and in place and that the College community and the public at large will have an opportunity to comment on any proceedings on College endowment lands.Ēí
The Hon. Mr. Keenan went on to say, ďI know that the minister will want to make sure that the people who signed this petition are included in any consultation on this question. While the area in question is Commissionerís land, it falls within the boundaries of the City of Whitehorse, and therefore comes under the municipal zoning jurisdiction.Ē
Further Hansard debate from April 14, 1997, had the Member for Porter Creek South noting, ďI have written to the minister on a number of occasions, as have constituents of mine, regarding this particular area in question. I understand that the endowment lands issue is only a proposal, that land has not been formally transferred.
ďI also understand there are land claims issues in this area, and I would draw the ministerís attention to a resolution coming forward from the City of Whitehorse to the Association of Yukon Communities: ĎBe it resolved that, following the finalization of land claims settlements, the Government of Yukon should transfer administration, control and ownership of all remaining vacant Crown lands to those municipalities who have demonstrated the willingness and capability to manage the resource.íĒ
It seems that the Member for Porter Creek South has changed her mind. In 1997, she advocated letting the municipality control that land, letting them make the decision. Now, this motion of today, prior to the amendment, was suggesting that we should stand here in the Legislature today and deal with the issue, without even giving a phone call to the City of Whitehorse, without asking them how theyíd like to do it.
She spoke in favour of the resolution passed at the Association of Yukon Communities in her comments in Hansard of April 14, 1997, and now today we see a completely different position, and no explanation of why.
It has also been mentioned by some of my colleagues that this is something the leader of the third party had the opportunity to do while in government, and failed to do. Her petition was presented back in 1997, her government was elected in 2000 and left in 2002, but she didnít do it.
This is one of many issues that we seem to see coming forward. It has been common for the leader of the third party, the leader of the Liberal Party, to criticize our government for not doing things that she failed to do in government. She asks us to do what she either could not or would not do, and then criticizes us for not doing so.
Now, briefly returning to the topic of consultation, the Member for Mayo-Tatchun criticized this government for what he claimed was a poor track record of consultation. I would like to impress on the member opposite that we have moved forward with First Nations. The creation of the Yukon Forum and the commitment that it will eventually be enshrined in legislation will give all governments a formalized role in working together and a forum for doing so. We have a consultation protocol in place. We are moving forward. It may not be the way that the Member for Mayo-Tatchun would like because perhaps the results of the consultation are not the outcome he would like to see. Thatís speculation on my part, and I apologize if Iím putting words in the mouth of the member opposite.
However, regarding the highway sign policy, which was an example raised by the Member for Mayo-Tatchun, I would like to correct the record for the Member for Mayo-Tatchun that the new highway sign policy was put in place as a parting gift by the former Liberal government. I believe it was in fact even passed through Cabinet after the writ was dropped. A large number of Yukoners came forward ó businesses, highway lodges, others who were having problems with the rather draconian new policy ó and there were essentially enforcers out on the highway making them yank down their signs and they felt it was having an effect on their business. The government took action to take a look at this and to put that on hold, and I certainly would urge the member to correct his comments in the future and not accuse us of things we did not do.
Again, I could go on at quite a bit of length about this. I believe Iím coming to the end of my time. I do believe itís very important to support the amendment to the motion, to include the establishment of a consultation process in this, to work with the City of Whitehorse ó recognizing that they have been told for years and encouraged to develop an official community plan and that they should do zoning ó regarding any proposal to change the official community plan or zoning related to it, and because the land is within their planning boundaries, and to work with other affected levels of governments ó the First Nation governments ó and Yukon College, because these lands have been discussed as being potential endowment lands, and to work, above all, with the residents of the area.
I would urge all members to support the amendment to the motion, and I thank members for their attention.
Mr. Arntzen: Iíd like to take this opportunity to speak to the amendment of this motion. I like the peanut gallery.
I do appreciate the situation the City of Whitehorse finds itself in, with its desire to do the infill residential housing in the Porter Creek area. I realize itís important for Whitehorse to have a continuing inventory of housing lots available. I further realize that the city does not have a continual inventory at the rate that we are selling lots ó 100 to 120 lots per year. Their inventory will be eaten up pretty quickly.
With no lots to sell, the city would stagnate, and I think that none of us would like to see that happen. Mr. Speaker, I also understand that the area of Porter Creek is only one of three areas that are under consideration for this. Another one of the areas the city has under consideration is up near my riding of Copperbelt. The motion proposed by the Member for Porter Creek South addresses only one of the areas that is under consideration for fill-in. The amendment proposed will bring in the aspect of consultation with the affected First Nations and other stakeholders in the areas of Copperbelt, McIntyre-Takhini, which is, as I said earlier, also under consideration for the so called fill-in. The amendment is every bit as relevant to those areas under consideration for development near my riding of Copperbelt and, as I said, McIntyre-Takhini. Kwanlin Dun has made several land selections in the Copper Ridge area, as well as those it made in the area under consideration today. It is only right that any development under consideration for the McIntyre-Takhini/Copperbelt region should receive as much consultation and cooperation as the Porter Creek areas.
And the approach of the government and the City of Whitehorse toward a consultative and cooperative approach to Taían Kwachían and Kwanlin Dun First Nation has already clearly been demonstrated. The Kwanlin Dun have been extensively consulted on such things as improvement and the planning of the extension of Hamilton Boulevard to the South Access Road, which I personally was a part of this summer.
I do understand the position the Member for Porter Creek South finds herself in when she wishes to see the area her motion deals with directly designated as a parkland. Iím certain that there are many residents in my riding of Copperbelt and also in the riding of McIntyre-Takhini who would like to see the areas under consideration for development in their backyard, or our backyard, designated as parkland too. However, we all like trails to walk our dogs perhaps, or go skiing or mountain biking, but we also want our parcel of land to be untouched. I understand that.
Part and parcel of our residential lots, we need to provide for sewer, water and electrical services to them. So not only does the city have to have a continuous inventory of lots available for sale, but it also must think of the infrastructure needs of the residents.
Iím certain that the cost of providing those services to any new development lots plays a major role in the cityís planning process, and if it doesnít, it should. The selection of the area in Porter Creek is very likely, I assume, influenced by the consideration of those costs.
Existing services are very close to the Porter Creek area and can only make development much more cost effective when theyíre already there. As I understand it, digging trenches in the area of Porter Creek for such services would be relatively less costly, for example, than in the area of Copperbelt where I live. Weíre talking about rocks and bedrock near the surface. Perhaps it would be a lot cheaper to develop the Porter Creek area.
As I said earlier, we all want a good environment. We want parks and trails in our neighbourhoods, but we also like the amenities to our homes that we have become so used to, like running water and electricity and all that good stuff.
The City of Whitehorse in their community plan already has the requirement that any land to be developed must have a minimum of 10 percent of it set aside to provide for parks, playgrounds or other green spaces. So I donít know where that percentage is today when it comes to Porter Creek. I know that that area was a big part of the plans in the Copper Ridge area, and I assume that is what the city tries to stick with.
Mr. Speaker, Iím certain that through consultation and negotiations an agreement can be achieved to see responsible developments of the so called fill-in areas in the city while maintaining a good quality of life for residents of the City of Whitehorse can be achieved.
Having said that, I would just like to add that I am in favour of the amendment as proposed, and I will be voting for it.
Mr. Rouble: Mr. Speaker, it is my honour and my pleasure to speak to the amendment today to discuss why the amendment is necessary and also to discuss some of the flaws in the original motion that made the amendment necessary.
Mr. Speaker, the original motion called for the Yukon territorial government to make a unilateral decision that would fly in the face of a decision made by the duly elected municipal government, and I think there would be an awful lot of frustration with that. In fact, I think there is a significant amount of frustration in Yukon communities when the territorial government makes decisions without their involvement.
Prior to my becoming involved with territorial politics, I was involved with the Marsh Lake local advisory council. We had a situation where the territorial government wanted to put a residential subdivision in the middle of the agricultural lots on the M'Clintock River Road.
Now, the M'Clintock River Road is a small community, just across the M'Clintock River bridge. Itís primarily an agricultural area. There are working farms on it, and the majority, if not all, of the lots there are of a significant size.
The advisory council received a presentation from the territorial government, where the agents of the government came in and said, ďWeíd like to put in a development in your neighbourhood. Hereís what it will look like. What do you think?Ē Not exactly the most inviting form of consultation. It wasnít, ďDo you think youíd like to see more people here?Ē It didnít start off with the recognition of a need.
We can all recognize that there is a growing demand for rural residential lots, but we need to do some consistent planning on where those need to go. This was proposed as a fait accompli. It was simply, ďHere are the lots. How do you like us so far?Ē Well, there was an uproar in the community.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Rouble: The Member for Mount Lorne is saying, ďImagine that.Ē Imagine that the government came in and made a unilateral decision, saying, ďHere weíre putting in all these lots, and here weíre putting in a park. How do you like us so far?Ē Mr. Speaker, there was an uproar from the community. It was being done without involving the duly elected members of the local advisory council.
We did manage to create enough of an uproar and enough of a stir ó and we involved our MLA ó that the idea was put on the shelf ó hopefully a long, dark, dusty, crowded shelf.
Mr. Speaker, that just illustrates what happens when government goes in and makes a decision without consulting people. Since taking office, I have been working with my colleagues to encourage them to recognize, respect and utilize the local advisory councils ó the Carcross Area Advisory Planning Committee, the Tagish Local Advisory Council and the Marsh Lake Local Advisory Council. In my riding of the beautiful Southern Lakes, there are no incorporated municipalities, so people there are represented not only by me, as their Member of the Legislative Assembly, but in the different neighbourhoods, there are local advisory councils. Those members are elected by the community at large. Their responsibility is to advise all those who will listen of the communityís concerns. Also it works as a great springboard to take ideas to these advisory councils to get some back-and-forth dialogue going in the community.
Mr. Speaker, I have been working very hard to encourage government to communicate with these advisory councils and get their opinion on matters. Now, the last thing my constituents want is the territorial government to come in and make a unilateral decision that affects the local government.
Mr. Speaker, thatís what the original motion did. It would call on the territorial government to take action overriding a decision of the City of Whitehorse. The City of Whitehorse has gone through a planning process. Theyíve created an official community plan. Theyíve made decisions about zoning. Well, this is contrary to that.
People in my communities are making community plans. They are looking at how to effectively and efficiently use the land ó for what uses, where new neighbourhoods should go, where different development should go, what areas should be protected. The people at the grassroots are working very hard to do that. We are also working very hard with the different First Nations ó Carcross-Tagish First Nation, the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, Taían Kwachían Council. These different First Nations all have land in the area, and they must be included in all the discussions.
In todayís Yukon, I canít imagine making such a significant decision, especially a decision about land use, without including the First Nations, especially when it is adjacent to some of their selections. We need to include all affected stakeholders in these discussions.
In the case of this area, there is already an official community plan. The original motion is going contrary to the existing community plan. The original motion, as it was stated, would have circumvented the duly elected mayor and council. I canít support that.
I see the amendment improving the motion. It calls for additional consultation. It calls for additional people to be included in the discussion. There might be differences in opinion, and I expect that there will be. There usually are when you get more than two people together. Sometimes when you get one person together, thereís a difference in opinion. That difference in opinion usually makes the final result better. Different opinions come out, different points of view come out, different ideas that hadnít been considered ó there are a lot of different thoughts going on with what this land is going to be used for. You know, weíve heard some of them today: endowment lands, walking trails, bicycling trails and skiing trails. There are all kinds of different considerations for this land, as well as the option of using it for additional residential land.
Now politics is usually the art of compromise and getting people to come together, identify all their common concerns, their different interests, their different positions, and trying to find the solution that best addresses them. I canít support just making one decision and having that come down like a command from above without taking into consideration all the other views and expectations. As I said before, they need to be considered.
Now it has been suggested by some of the members that this amendment doesnít need to be there, and I disagree with that. The motion that was presented called for a unilateral decision. Yes, there would have likely been some consultation through the park process, but it would have been the typical, ďHereís what we want to have done; what do you think now?Ē
We need to have more, and it needs to start earlier. It needs to start with getting people on the same page rather than on the final page. So, Mr. Speaker, I support the amendment. I think it strengthens it. I donít think it weakens the intention of it. On the contrary, I think it will make it stronger. It includes more people, more different opinions.
I understand that there are going to be presentations to the City of Whitehorse on this issue. I think it would be important to send this message to the city that, yes, we would like to work on them. We would like to work with the Kwanlin Dun and the Taían Kwachíaní, and, yes, we would like to work with the other affected stakeholders, the community organizations and Yukon College in figuring out how best all those affected want to utilize this land.
I think that sends a strong message to the city. I donít want to see this government being seen as one that makes a dictatorial command from on high, ďthou shalt use this land for this,Ē without including them in the discussions, especially when they are duly elected officials who have a responsibility to their constituents to be involved in these discussions.
So, Mr. Speaker, again, I support this amendment, and I would encourage all members of the Assembly to support it, as well.
Mr. Cardiff: Mr. Speaker, I am rising to speak to the amendment that was moved by the Member for Porter Creek Centre. The amendment changes the intent of the original motion by inserting a consultation process with the City of Whitehorse and the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, the Taían Kwachíaní First Nation, Yukon College, Porter Creek residents and other stakeholders.
In the words of the Member for Porter Creek South, thereís probably not an issue as dear to Yukoners as land and what happens with that land. But whatís happening here is that the Yukon government would like to basically start another consultation process on something thatís actually happening and being consulted on as we speak.
I would invite all Members of the Legislative Assembly to attend the public meeting on the proposed Whitehorse zoning bylaw amendments. Itís at the Westmark Whitehorse, I believe, and starts at 7:00 p.m.
††††††† There is a process in place now that is being dealt with. The Member for McIntyre-Takhini speculated on why this has become an issue and why itís a priority ó why itís being brought to light now. Well, itís being brought to light now ó itís a long process, and Yukoners and residents of the City of Whitehorse have been consulted over a long period of time about various things, starting with the official community plan. Iím not saying that that process was perfect. In fact, there is a whole issue in the Yukon and in the City of Whitehorse ó and in any community in the Yukon, for that matter, I suppose ó about what consultation really means and how to engage the public.
††††††† I have what may be considered a strange theory on this, and that is that if you really want to engage people in a consultation process, propose something a little outrageous and theyíll come talk to you.
If they think that itís part of a benign consultation and that itís not important, they have a tendency not to get involved. There is an example of that, and it was one of the things that helped me decide to get into politics. It was the situation that happened in my riding and part of the adjacent riding. That was the Whitehorse Copper land development. There was a consultation there that lasted for years and years, but until people could actually see what was being proposed, they had a tendency to not get involved in the process. It wasnít that important to them until they realized exactly what was being proposed. I guess at the eleventh hour, residents rallied and tried to get some amendments made to the official community plan. That was the end of that consultation process. Thatís where the Yukon government basically took over the consultation process and started ó well, their first consultation on that development was an advertisement in the paper that read, ďLand, land, landĒ. It implied people could come and get their land to build their little dream home. It had a cute little picture of a cabin with a chimney and little wisps of smoke. There may have even been some husky dogs hovering around the cabin. That was the ad in the paper.
That did get peopleís attention. Two hundred people showed up and consulted with the Yukon government, and the Yukon government basically ignored the concerns of those 200 people. To this day, theyíre still ignoring the concerns of those 200 people, and the other residents who were otherwise engaged on that particular evening. I believe it was in January.
Thereís a desire, I think, among all Yukoners to protect green spaces for a variety of reasons, whether itís for leisure, recreation, the protection of environmentally sensitive areas and wildlife habitat or heritage. The Member for Porter Creek Centre, when he talked about the College endowment lands, talked about a lot of those things that the College wanted with regard to the endowment lands. I think one of the other things that the College envisioned at that time was that the area in Porter Creek that weíre talking about in the motion would be available for students and staff to use, not just for leisure and recreation and for the community to use for leisure and recreation, but for their studies and research activities that take place at the College. There are lots of science programs and research being done at Yukon College, and this area would be of benefit to those persons who are participating at the College in those studies and activities.
Go back to the consultation process that is happening right now. The amendment to the motion injects yet another consultation process into something that is already being consulted on. The city had a consultation on the official community plan. Out of the official community plan came the need because, basically, through that consultation, it changed what the communityís vision was for certain areas of land and land development. Out of that comes the need, when youíve got that, to change the zoning bylaw that specifies how land will be developed for which purpose, what zoning it gets, whether it will be environmentally protected, whether itís a greenbelt, whether itís undesignated rural, whether itís country residential I, country residential II, urban residential, whether itís public utilities ó there is a variety of things there. There is a stack of maps ó itís not a light document.
Just so that the Legislature knows, and especially the Member for McIntyre-Takhini ó just so he knows ó this is where this issue comes from. Itís from an amendment to the zoning bylaw. There is a consultation process around that. It was given first reading a few weeks ago at city council and the document became public. Now itís out there in the public and people can look at it. Thatís why the issue is there now, and I can guarantee the Member for McIntyre-Takhini that itís not the only issue related to the zoning bylaw that is going to be an issue for the city.
Iím hearing concerns from my constituents on a variety of issues that concern them about the zoning bylaw and the amendments to it. My hatís off to my constituents, because they phoned me, and what I told my constituents is that as a territorial politician I donít like interfering or trying to dictate how they should do their job. They have a process that they should go through and they need to go through that process. My role is to ensure that my constituentsí concerns are relayed to them. I think itís important to relay those concerns in a respectful manner. I think that itís important to ensure that their concerns are heard, and thatís what I have tried to do. I try to allow the communication to happen and to say, ďWell, yeah, Iíve heard that from this person. You know, maybe you should talk to them. Or maybe you should contact the community association in Mary Lake or Wolf Creek or whatever so that those concerns are heard.Ē To that end, my constituents have actually arranged for the City of Whitehorse to come out and hold a public meeting for the residents of the south highway area. I believe itís on Tuesday, April 19 at 7:00 at the Golden Horn School. The city is going to do that.
The city listened to constituents about the Whitehorse Copper development in the cityís consultation process about that development, and the city was even prepared to make changes to that land development through that consultation process. It was a fairly extensive consultation process, which included constituents from Wolf Creek, Mary Lake, and Pineridge appearing at city council meetings. It involved city councillors coming out and walking the land with the residents of the area and meeting with them on several occasions. It also included a public hearing, which I appeared at. All I asked city council to do was to respectfully listen to the concerns of my constituents. I thought they had valid concerns, that they needed to be heard, and that council should listen to them and do what they thought was best.
City council passed the zoning bylaw for that development after that consultation process, and they amended it. And they also made a suggestion to the land developer, which is the Yukon government. The Yukon government doesnít have a great record when it comes to land development. Look at the Little Atlin Lake fiasco they got into a year or two ago, where they were going to develop land. Thatís a prime example of what the Member for Southern Lakes was talking about ó ďHere it is. How do you like it? Thatís our consultation.Ē But they neglected to consult with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation. They ignored the transboundary concerns of the Taku River Tlingit and the local people.
There was a bible camp there that had concerns about it, but, no, walk down there with the plan and here we go, and weíre going to have a land development on the Little Atlin Road. Just plug it in and let it go.
So I think that itís how you engage the public, ensure that you listen to them respectfully and try to reach some kind of a consensus. What I fail to see, I guess, is the need for another consultation process when thereís a consultation process already happening and itís in place. If you follow it through ó like I said, there is a meeting this evening and thereís a meeting next Tuesday for south highway residents. I am sure that if the Member for McIntyre-Takhini wanted to organize a meeting for his constituents, the City of Whitehorse would probably come up and hold a meeting about concerns in McIntyre-Takhini. I understand that some of the residents in Takhini North might have concerns about this proposed development in the Member for Porter Creek Southís riding as well, because thereís the potential for development in Takhini North, as well. Maybe he would like to talk to his constituents and find out what their concerns are.
Thereís still a lot of time left, I think, for consultation. I believe there is also a public hearing, at which residents of the City of Whitehorse can come to city hall at 7:00 p.m, April 25. They can show up, get on the speakers list and make their concerns known to city council.
Exercise your democratic right to participate in that process and let the city council, which makes the decision about the zoning bylaw, make their decision.
I donít think the zoning bylaw is written in stone at this point. Itís proposed amendments to an existing zoning bylaw, and itís a large document. It takes a long time to go through it. Iíll be honest: I havenít gone through the whole thing. Iíve gone through the sections that, from what I can see, pertain to issues that relate to my constituents and to other areas of concern that have been brought to my attention by my constituents or by other peopleís constituents. I think itís important to be in touch with your constituents and get involved in the process if thereís a process there. I donít see why the Government of Yukon canít participate in the process thatís there now.
The Member for Porter Creek South says thereís a process under the Parks and Land Certainty Act. There are processes in land claims agreements. What the government is proposing is to start yet another consultation process. When you look at the record of the government doing consultation, they did an abysmal job on the Whitehorse Copper land development. When it comes to land dispositions, this government has a pretty horrible record.
Iím probably going to end up off on another tangent here, but the Member for Lake Laberge, and I believe the Member for Southern Lakes, talked about local advisory councils, local planning areas and the desire for control over development.
They should come to Mount Lorne. In the Hamlet of Mount Lorne, we have a land use plan. It has been there for over 10 years, basically, from its inception to ó I canít remember the exact date that it was passed, but it is coming up pretty close to 10 years. It is darn near time to be reviewed. In the two-and-a-half years since being elected, I have had the opportunity to make representation to the Minister of Community Services on the need for the finalization of the land use regulations for the Hamlet of Mount Lorne. To date, there is nothing. From my understanding, they were promised a year-and-a-half ago that it would be a year.
I know that my time is running out.
I actually have a hard time with the amendment. I feel that it injects yet another consultation process into a consultation process that is already underway and it disrespects the process that is already in place and already happening. I look forward to speaking to the amended motion later.
Speaker: Is there any further debate on the amendment? Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Question.
Speaker: Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Disagreed.
Speaker: I think the ayes have it.
Amendment to Motion No. 426 agreed to
Speaker: Is there any debate on the motion as amended?
Mr. Cardiff: I will pick up where I left off about the land disposition situation in the Hamlet of Mount Lorne. The process has been terrible. Another example of where they went wrong was with the Fish Lake properties.
But the need for land use regulations and the passage of those is so that local advisory councils, local area planning councils and hamlet councils can have some control over development and not have these spot land applications foisted upon them willy-nilly every month.
Iíd say Iíve got a pretty good track record of attending hamlet council meetings, and in the last year, probably in the last nine months ó especially since the government changed its land disposition policy to allow for spot land applications within the periphery area of Whitehorse ó that is one of the things that hamlet councils end up dealing with at just about every hamlet council meeting: reviewing land applications and spot land applications.† It is, ďWell, does it meet the proposed zoning regulations that the government had on its desk for the last five years?Ē Itís a matter of whether or not the government wants to respect those proposed regulations. I guess this is just another one of those consultation processes that the government talks about believing in in the now-amended motion, but itís a hardship. There are a lot of other things that hamlet councils could be dealing with at their meetings as opposed to reviewing endless land applications and attending land application review committee meetings, which I believe happen about twice a month.
It becomes a burden for those councillors. They end up either having to write submissions on each land application, or they end up having to attend the LARC meetings, come into town during the week although they may have been otherwise engaged where they live through their employment and other things theyíre doing. There are local businesses in the area, and some of the councillors are engaged in home-based businesses and other activities in the hamlet, yet they have to come back into Whitehorse and participate in this government-driven process for two reasons: first, the government canít get it through its head that they need to get those land use regulations in place; and they canít get it through their head the folly of changing that land policy to allow for spot land applications. Itís about control and some decision making over what happens in their community, not unlike what the residents of Porter Creek South would like to have over whatís happening in the area they live in.
As I said earlier, there is a process in place by which those residents can participate as well. I donít know that there needs to be this other consultation process that the government feels so strongly about. Maybe they just feel the need to sole source another consultation contract.
There must be somebody else out there who is in need of a sole-source contract that this government is dying to hand out ó
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Minister of Education, on a point of order.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: † I believe that the member opposite is in violation of Standing Order 19(g) because he is imputing false motives on this government.
Speaker: Member for Kluane, on the point of order.
Mr. McRobb: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, I was listening intently and there was obviously no point of order.
Speaker: Actually there is a point of order. Once again Iím going to do this: according to the March 29 ruling, the publicís interest is not served when members express themselves in a way that impugns the character of other members. Iíd ask the Member for Mount Lorne to just keep that ruling under consideration. You have the floor.
Mr. Cardiff: Thereís a consultation process in place, as we speak, where residents and concerned citizens can go and participate in that process. I think that we owe it to the City of Whitehorse to participate in that process. If we live in the City of Whitehorse as residents, we can go and participate in that process. As a territorial politician, as I said earlier, I feel that I need to walk a fine line. I donít want to try to influence or use my position to influence the decision of city council on what that is, but what I think needs to happen is that we need to use our influence to ensure that the voices of our constituents are heard, that they are heard effectively and that the consultation process that takes place is good and fair and everyone gets an equal hearing. I think that that is an important part of consultation.
I would like to go back just a little bit and make some more comments, as well, about the spot land applications that are happening in the Hamlet of Mount Lorne. There is a strong desire by that municipal government ó or form of government, I guess. Itís not a municipal government. Whether itís a local advisory council, a local planning area or a hamlet council ó they are all pretty similar. There is a strong desire by the hamlet council and the people they represent to have some control and some input. But they feel that they are not being listened to and that the spot land application process that is in place ó and thatís taking place on a daily, weekly, monthly, whatever basis because they seem to just roll in ó is really hard to take.
Itís onerous for them to have to participate in that process. What they would rather devote their energy to is some sort of planned, responsible development. Thereís an option for that being proposed by the government. I hope the government doesnít do what theyíve done in the past and try to take a development out to them and say, ďHere, this is what weíre proposing. How do you like it?Ē
Something has to be shown to the residents, just as there was with the zoning bylaw and the concerns raised in Porter Creek South and are being raised on the south highway area and may be raised in Riverdale or any other neighbourhood of Whitehorse.
You have to show them something. Thatís how you get them involved in the consultation process, but donít come in with it like itís a done deal, as they did in Whitehorse Copper where they wouldnít make changes and wouldnít listen to the concerns of residents.
It sounds like, Mr. Speaker, now that theyíve passed the amendment to this motion, theyíre going to get their way. Theyíll pass this with their majority, and theyíre going to establish a new consultation process involving residents who are already involved and stakeholders who are already involved in the zoning bylaw consultation.
Weíre going to have yet one more layer of consultation, and I almost question whether itís necessary or not. I think that at this point the City of Whitehorse has the responsibility for zoning the property, they have a process in place, and we, as legislators in the territorial Legislature, should respect that.
I have a hard time supporting the amended motion for those reasons. I think itís doing something that really doesnít need to be done. Iím not sure that the original motion is something that needed to be done either, but maybe we should have let the process thatís in place on the zoning bylaw run its course and just see where that went. Thereís an opportunity in the process thatís there.
I think it was worthwhile talking about this today because, as we all know, the desire to create parks and to have control over what happens in our neighbourhoods and protect green spaces and wildlife habitat is important to all Yukoners, I think. Itís especially important in the areas where we live because we see the wildlife.
Itís interesting. I was at a meeting last night and there was a report on the radio not that long ago about the need to watch for wildlife in your yard right in the City of Whitehorse. Iím not sure how many moose Wolf Creek is home to these days, but itís my understanding that there are several of them running around the neighbourhood of Wolf Creek, visiting various residents and probably being chased from yards by the occasional dog.
Thatís why we have that desire to preserve those wild spaces close to where we live so that that wildlife isnít disturbed and that those opportunities are there for us, for our children, for our grandchildren. There are mothers and fathers who come up to visit us and our other relatives and our friends who come to the Yukon. You go out your front door and youíve got moose in your front yard; you have coyotes, foxes, bears, caribou. I saw caribou on the highway the other night as well. I think itís that neat. Itís the fact that we do live so close to nature that thatís what we want to do: we want to preserve it.
So I donít disagree with the residents and their desire to have this area preserved as a park or as an environmentally protected area, and there is that zoning available in the zoning bylaw. I think what needs to happen is that the residents need to work with the city councillors and with the mayor and with the officials who are available there this evening and who were at the meeting last week and at future meetings. They need to go to the public hearing on April 25 at city council and make their views known. Thatís part of the democratic process. They can encourage the city councillors to change their minds and change that designation from a residential area to ó I believe it would be zone PE, which is environmental protection, which is a new zone, actually, in the zoning bylaw.
They could do that, and I encourage them to do that. So, that process is in place. Itís there, and itís available for all people living in the City of Whitehorse to participate in. Iím working with my constituents on their concerns about the subdivision of country residential lots to reduce the size of country residential lots, thereby allowing the subdivision, which would increase density in country residential areas, and the concerns about the impact that would have on water, septic systems, wildlife and traffic issues. There is a broad range of issues that are of concern.
The process is there. Itís available for residents of the City of Whitehorse to participate in and make their views known to Whitehorse City Council, and I would encourage them to do that.
I thank the members for the opportunity to speak to this and look forward to hearing other views.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Mr. McRobb: I spoke to the proposed amendment, which did pass, and frankly, I donít see too much difference with respect to the motion either way. But there has been some interesting discussion this afternoon. During that time, I had an opportunity to think a bit about the society we live in. I say that because, watching the news from places like Vancouver or Edmonton, we get a chance to compare how we as a society handle issues like this compared to other areas.
I was born and raised in Coquitlam, B.C., which is a suburb of Vancouver, so I still watch the news from that area rather closely. Iím quite appalled at the lack of community involvement and consultation when it comes to the development of greenbelt areas.
I recall one example from last year in the Port Coquitlam area where a number of residents were caught by surprise with the major subdivision development behind their places of residence in the greenbelt area. There was no process of consultation at all prior to the development. Thatís the way it is all over the Lower Mainland and in other cities in Canada.
The situation is even worse in other parts of the world, of course. If we look at China, in some cases communities with populations of hundreds of thousands of people are moved out with barely any notice to make way for hydro developments, for instance.
So we see a great diversity in the way residents are treated across the world. That brings to mind just how fortunate people are in the Yukon generally for being provided opportunities to voice their opinion to their elected officials and, at the same time, expect some results at the political level in response to their concerns.
I think thatís what makes the Yukon really one community. It doesnít matter if the issue is in Whitehorse or Old Crow or Watson Lake or Beaver Creek, everybody tends to get involved and theyíre able to express their opinions to the political level.
Mr. Speaker, if the political level doesnít respond or listen to those concerns then that, of course, can become an issue.
Every person in the Yukon really does count. Every person in the Yukon does have a lot more power than people in cities outside Yukon because, even up here, one person can stop a development. That has been proven before.
I think thatís what makes us a close-knit community in the Yukon. Weíre barely 31,000 people. There really is a sense of community. Processes like this help to tie us together. So, when a situation like this proposed development in the greenbelt surfaces, itís no surprise that residents are motivated to speak out and come together to discuss ways to present different options to the government. Weíre seeing it here with the Porter Creek residents. Weíre seeing it happen with residents in Takhini, as well, because there is development on the other side of the McIntyre Creek area. I am aware that ó I believe itís on Thursday night ó the two groups are meeting to discuss options. That will be interesting.
There are other areas as well. Downtown, we see the Downtown Area Residents Association coming together and taking a stand against drug use downtown and trying to end the problem of drug houses that chronically plague our downtown core. It seems that very little has been done by the enforcement agencies or anyone else to try to resolve this problem ó until recently.
Across the territory there are other examples, of course, so it is reassuring to know that in the Yukon, at least, the grassroots type of democracy is alive and well. I think itís something that we all acknowledge and makes us proud to be residents of the Yukon.
Now, in terms of this particular greenbelt, I think there is a lot of information, first of all, that has been put on the record that is very good. I donít plan to repeat very much of it. The mover of the motion brought in a lot of local knowledge from her constituency that was quite worthwhile, and even the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources contributed something from his departmental experience and from his childhood, when he was running through the trees in the McIntyre Creek area. Other people in here who have spoken also related their experience and views.
I think thereís a need to consider the health perspective, as well, Mr. Speaker, because in this House we deal with health concerns, and we know the escalating costs of the health care system in the Yukon, in Canada and worldwide, along with all† the challenges that are inherent with that system. We give tributes periodically to physical fitness and so on, Mr. Speaker, and it seems to me we have to put our money where our mouth is.
This area is very important for people to get out and engage in physical activities and recreation activities, to get out for fresh air. Mr. Speaker, without areas like this, you can safely predict that society, the health of society, will deteriorate.
That has being proven in the larger cities where thereís a lack of greenbelt area and where there are higher levels of toxins from automobiles and so on, and there is higher incidence of lung disease and other disorders that are linked to the conditions in the city.
I think itís important to look at this area as an investment in our health care system. Potentially there are hundreds of Whitehorse residents who use this area for a variety of purposes, and itís incumbent on the government to provide areas like this for its residents. After all, who else can possibly provide it? If we wait for some kind of private enterprise to come in and protect it, that just wonít happen. It has to be government. Thatís the role of government.
Another aspect that has been mentioned is the environmental aspect. There are wetlands in the area. If the area is developed, that will certainly increase the pressure on the wetlands areas. Already there is ATV use in the area. That includes four-wheel ATVs as well as snowmobiles, and if there are residences in the heart of this greenbelt, you can safely predict the numbers of those mechanized vehicles would increase. Itís also an important area for bird habitat. I donít think there are any studies done that Iím aware of, but just from my own casual observations there are a number of bird species using the area.
In my discussions with the mover of the motion earlier today, I mentioned the similar threat on the south side of McIntyre Creek in the Takhini North area, particularly in the disc golf course area and up on the ridge. I believe developments are proposed for there as well. Itís too bad we wonít have an opportunity ó at least soon, in the legislative calendar ó to discuss that development as well, because I think we would have a lot of similar concerns about development in those locations too.
Certainly, there is a lot of merit to having a greenbelt between two large subdivisions, as we have in Porter Creek, Takhini and the surrounding areas.
I have another note here about the College. I believe a previous speaker indicated the endowment lands were viewed as a financial tool by the Board of Governors, but I believe that may not be the case. They may be viewed as more of an environmental legacy. So, I just wanted to put that on the record ó that there might be some dispute about what the intention of the endowment lands is.
And of course many Whitehorse residents who have followed the endowment lands issue have heard for years that it was going to be protected and that land claims were holding up that process. Who would have predicted that the Kwanlin Dun land claim would have taken so long?
It was 30 years plus to get to this stage where itís finally settled. Whereas the College and the endowment lands ó I believe we started to look at this issue about 18 years ago ó something in that neighbourhood. So, here we are, about 18 or 20 years later, and the issue of the endowment lands is still up in the air.
I donít plan to talk very much longer, in case there are other members who care to put their thoughts on record.
In summary, I think itís a good investment to protect this greenbelt for reasons of health and protection of the environment and to provide a recreation area in a very strategic location. Without this area being protected, there simply wonít be a greenbelt where these types of activities can occur for people in these areas, so I will be supporting the motion if it comes to a vote. I think the matter of the consultation is a bit of a red herring. Whatís important is showing our support for the motion.
Mr. Hardy: Iíve looked forward to saying a few words with regard to the amended motion as brought forward, voted on and now up for debate. It does raise some very interesting issues surrounding land use in urban areas, land use in rural areas and land use in suburbia, which often surrounds a town.
One of the things that people look for where they want to live is parks and greenbelts. They look for recreation, preferably within walking distance. They look for schools within walking distance, or neighbourhood schools. That is a preference by most people. They look for safe, well-lit streets. People prefer to live in neighbourhoods that are laid out in a manner that allows them to access a lot of the opportunities provided in that area without always having to get into their vehicle and having to drive somewhere.
Many people, of course, when they leave work, come home. Say they belong to a working family where both parents work and they have children: they pick up the children and come home. The last thing they really want to do, of course, is to jump back in their vehicle and head off just to take a walk, for instance, through some nice parkland.
Yukon and Whitehorse have been blessed with having tremendous wilderness parks around it. But, as development happens, those are the areas that are often targeted ó the spaces between each of the suburban areas or districts. In this case, we can break it up into Porter Creek South, the Porter Creek area and, of course, there is the Kopper King over on the other side of this one. There is the Yukon College and Takhini kind of surrounding it, as an example.
But as pressures to develop land continue to grow ó and we have been witnessing that over quite a few years in Whitehorse as there has been a steady increase of land being developed and that land being purchased, built upon and being filled up and, of course, moving on and expanding. I remember, when they first built up into Granger, and now you go up there and Granger is small compared to the development that exists up there now. But Granger was big when it was built. It was quite astounding in the Whitehorse area to have the suburban area being developed up on top of the hill.
But I go up there now, Mr. Speaker, and I actually drove through Granger three nights ago. I was up there for a particular reason. I went up there to look at our Habitat for Humanity lot. I wanted to make sure the sign was still there and see what the snow conditions were like and see when we can get some machinery in there to at least clear the lot to get ready for the build. Anyway, I was just curious to see what kind of development has been happening, and I drove up around through Granger, looped up and across into the Copper Ridge area. Then, after I got way up in the back, I finally found where our lot was. I always forget where it is. Itís hard to find. There are so many branches up there. I got back in there, saw the lot, checked it out, and I decided I would drive through, just to see how development has gone up there. I hadnít checked it out for quite awhile. Itís massive; itís huge. Granger is tiny now, compared to the expansion that has happened up there. I see also new roads being developed with new lots that are going to be coming onstream up there. So that area has seen massive growth.
But when driving through it, I didnít see many parks, many spaces, because there is really pressure to develop and fit in as many places as you can in a small area. That is economics; that makes sense.
What happens, of course, if you spread out too far is all the infrastructure starts to cost money. Then, of course, as you get these suburban pods, people want to have a school there to serve that neighbourhood, or they want to have some of the facilities that they can access closer to home. So it makes sense to try to keep it closer together for cost reasons but, in doing so, if thereís a large demand, you end up with pressure upon the greenbelt areas and you end up with these tiny little parks that almost serve no purpose whatsoever other than maybe for very small children to play in with supervised conditions, but no walking parks where you can actually within a couple of minutes outside your door be totally in the wilderness: the sound drops, quiet happens, you have a nice walk, the birds are out, you can see wildlife ranging through there, and in this case you can go down to ó I donít know if it still exists, but it was there for a long time, and maybe the Member for Porter Creek South can inform me ó a beaver pond down there on the creek. Now I havenít been up there in a couple of years, but Iíll get to that part in a second.
Anyway, there is a lot of pressure on these areas, but these areas are essential for quality of life and these are the kinds of areas that make it desirable for people to move into those areas, knowing that within two or three minutes they are walking down a beautiful trail. They put aside the trials and tribulations, pressures, of everyday life and they are able to relax and experience a walk in the park. They have a chance to sit quietly and listen to the wilderness around them. It definitely touches people strongly.
Now the idea that this area would be developed ó and I have a map in front of me here ó raises some very serious questions about what people do envision for the City of Whitehorse.
From my perspective, I think it is essential that there are large areas of wilderness protected. This is an area that has a creek running through it ó a beautiful creek, McIntyre Creek. It has rolling hills and little ponds ó or lakes, if you want to call them that. It has a wonderful trail system. It has wildlife. As I said, I expect the beaver ponds are still down there. There are ducks that go in that area during the spring, summer and fall. I would almost say that itís a corridor ó I could be wrong. But from my knowledge of that area, I would suggest that itís a corridor for a lot of animals to get through Whitehorse and to travel down to the river and get on to the other side. For wildlife to be able to get through that, thatís essential.
Now, saying that, we can coexist with parks like this if we plan it and recognize that value, and place as much value on that as we do development. We can reconfigure the kind of development we have so that it is a little bit more condensed. There are more options on the types of structures for people to live in and we can still allow a good parkland around it. I think most people would like that.
Itís not that everybody has to have a big lot. Everybody wants the ability to have an accessible area to at least be able to experience a park ó to experience the benefits of that by taking their family for a walk and introduce them to nature and the spiritual aspects of being able to get out.
A lot of people canít drive out to the wilderness ó they canít afford to, which is another point Iíd like to make. Gas is going up. As we continue to see the rising costs, but not a rise in wages, we see people having to make choices, meaning that they will do things closer to their home.
Itís essential that we have these spots throughout Whitehorse to make that possible. I live downtown. I live in an area that doesnít have the parks this area has. Our parks are the ones where we clear the ground, we put some playground equipment in and some sand down. Thatís predominantly the type of park for the downtown area. There have been attempts to build a little skating park down by the river. Thatís another subject. I wonít get into that.
I do have the benefit of the bluffs, because I live right up against them. Thereís a park right outside my door with a nice little trail, but itís not wilderness. Itís not like this. I donít have a creek running through it. I donít have a wildlife corridor. I donít have beavers or any of that stuff. I would love something like that, but itís not going to happen for the downtown core. So to experience that I have to travel a bit, Mr. Speaker. However, thereís no reason to give up something like this that separates suburban areas, because it serves so many purposes.
I will tell you about the purposes it serves. I have lived in the area that is described here from the time I was about eight years old to 16 years old. It was about eight years. This area was my playground. This is where I spent spring, summer and fall and a lot of times even winter. That creek is where I used to go fishing as a child on a regular basis. That area is where I used to go down and set up my tent, as a child, and camp out all summer long. My parents knew I was in that area. They knew where I was. They would come down and see me. I would put up a little tent and think I was roughing it in the woods. I was learning a lot about survival and about the wilderness. I was learning about independence, which was very important ó being away from my family, although of course I would show up at suppertime, breakfast and lunch. My mother reminds me of this on a regular basis. When they werenít there, I would show up and eat too.
But I thought I was independent. This is the area that fed that when I wasnít out camping with my mom, dad, brothers and sisters. This was an exceptionally important area for my growth. As I said, I fished in the creek all the time and there were a couple of wonderful spots in this creek where you could catch grayling. I ate many grayling by a campfire.
I spent so much time in that area that I even planted a garden. I will confess that this was not a successful garden, but I was determined. My father was an avid gardener, and our house and home where we lived had gardens and plants growing everywhere. I figured that if my father could grow a garden, I could grow a garden down by my little tent ó no kidding. This is where I tried my first gardening, right by the creek. I dug up the soil, I planted seeds, and I watered them every day and I think I ended up with tiny little sprouts of something or other ó I canít even remember what they were. It was quite an experience. So I was practically living in that area. I was squatting and I was only 10 years old.
However, I wasnít the only child down there; there was a whole whack of kids who came down from Porter Creek, they came across from Kopper King, and they came up from Takhini. We gathered there for all kinds of things. I learned to skate in this area. I put on my first skates with a bunch of ó I remember clearly that it was the Kabanaks from Porter Creek who took me out skating and taught me how to skate. It was a wonderful place. It was in the evening, and we would go out and shovel off the little pond and put on our skates, and we would have a hockey game until late at night. Usually in the Yukon itís wonderful because when the moon was out, we could stay out there quite late. We would play even if we could barely see the puck.
Again, it was a recreational area, unsupervised in many ways, undeveloped, but utilized extensively by children ó even those who thought they could grow a garden.
I believe that that still happens down there. I believe that there is still that tremendous amount of activity.
Now, as you can tell, Mr. Speaker, I feel very strongly about this area because I spent so much of my time there. But it even goes beyond that. One of the first jobs I ever had in the Yukon was cutting down brush and I was hired by Forestry. I was a teenager in school, and in the spring they would hire us. What we had to do, and it was in this area, closer to where the housing units are all now ó about five or six of us young people were hired, and what we would do is we would clear the brush, and we would cut small trees that were generally up to about two inches thick, and we would chop them down. We would clear it all and pull out the underbrush. It was for fire. Iím sure it was for fire considerations, because we were hired by Forestry to do it.
I even made an income from this area without damaging it, so it contributed in many ways to my development and my growth, and Iím very fond of this. The last time I actually went through there was three years ago, I think it was. There was a walk, of course, and it was in regard to a woman who had been assaulted, and it was a walk similar to a Take Back the Night kind of walk, but it was done during the day.
The Member for Porter Creek South just reminded me, it was called Take Back the Trails. We walked some of the trails in this area, and it was wonderful to go back in there and see the tremendous trail system that has developed out there. Now, Iím not sure if there is cross-country skiing happening there, but I sure do know that there are a lot of people who walk it, and it contributes, again, to the quality of life from child to elder. It is extremely important that we have places like this for that quality.
Thatís whatís making this place, the Whitehorse area, so attractive ó these green spaces that have been kept and preserved and the fact that they are going to stay that way. It is so essential that we just donít look at land as something that we can fill up, something that we take apart, but something we can look at in a different light ó what can it contribute to us in different manners without us having to put any investment into it? Very little to keep that the way it is but a tremendous amount to change it.
I believe that there are many areas in Whitehorse that could be developed if thereís need for more space, more houses. Thereís infill that can be developed thatís all over our suburban areas, including downtown. There is the downtown core that we really want to see continue to develop and grow and become a very strong community that is a mixture of residential and business. Thatís essential for a downtown core. So I would rather see the attention brought to that, way before we even look, even consider looking, at changing our green spaces.
Now I donít think itís necessary at this present time, based on the motion I see, to have it as a consultation process, but we can do it if thatís whatís needed. If thatís whatís going to ensure that this area is protected, then so be it. But, frankly, I felt that the first motion brought forward was good enough.
My concern, my belief, is that a quality of life and what brings people to towns are all the elements that are considered, and that is green spaces, schools, transit, safe streets and recreational facilities. Whitehorse has it. Letís not start eliminating one of those. Thank you.
Mrs. Peter: I rise to speak to this motion, as amended, today. Iíve listened with interest to my colleague and enjoyed his stories. I, myself, am not very familiar with this area; however, Iíve walked a couple of the hills in that area at various times.
However, Iíve stood on my feet many times in this House sharing, on behalf of my own constituents, how important it is to keep wilderness as wild or to hold on to green spaces. I listened to my colleagueís story about growing up in this area and how important it was for him to have the experiences that he did and learn what it is like to spend time out in the wilderness, to become more independent as a young adult. Thatís very important. I believe in those values; I believe in those qualities.
I can relate to the stories that my colleague shared because thatís the very thing that the people in my community would share with people who came to visit our communities. Our wilderness, in and near my community, is great. We have the whole outdoors, and that is very, very important.
Itís not only for quality of life and not only for a healthy lifestyle, but also for learning how to respect the land. That is one of the biggest teachings that our people ó the Gwichíin people ó treasure. They are trying to incorporate that very teaching into our education system to make sure that the younger generation experience those kinds of outings on the land. Right now, some of the students from Chief Zzeh Gittlit School in Old Crow are in Crow Flats. They do that every spring, so that they can learn where some of the lakes are, so they can learn some of the names, so that they can learn where different familiesí trapping areas are. That, Mr. Speaker, is the best education for our children.
We hope to always continue that: itís part of our culture; itís part of who we are. I can see how important the green spaces are for the residents of Porter Creek, because these places are too few.
In my travels throughout Canada and the United States, I compare what I see across the country and into the U.S. and how few these places are. When I see how few these places are, I count my blessings of how very fortunate my people and I are to have what we have in our own backyard. We can still drink the water from the river that flows by the community. We can still eat the fish that travel our rivers. We can still harvest food in our own backyard. There are not too many places in this world where people can say that. We can harvest blueberries and cranberries and not worry if they are healthy enough to eat. Itís not a question. That is something that many people canít take for granted today.†
This area that weíre speaking of, this green space or this little piece of wilderness that people would like to hold on to for themselves and for their families ó it is important for their children, Mr. Speaker.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Peter: Mr. Speaker, I believe that I have the floor here and there is an awful lot of rumbling going on.
Speaker: Order please. The Member for Vuntut Gwitchin does have a point. The extraneous chatter is getting to be a little loud. The Member for Vuntut Gwitchin, you have the floor.
Mrs. Peter: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I was saying, the green spaces and wilderness that the residents of Porter Creek would like to hold on to or would like to see happen with this area is very important for them. They not only grew up in this area, they are familiar with the trails, they are familiar with their own backyard, and they would like to keep it that way, not only for themselves but also for their children, so that their children can have the experiences of playing out by the streams, out by the lakes, and to have an experience of walking through wilderness. As I was saying earlier, Mr. Speaker, those places are very few and far between in this day and age.
And I would just like to say that I thank you for being able to make comments to this motion.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by saying that, once again, the government side has demonstrated a willingness to cooperate and to work collectively with the members opposite. I understand the spirit within which the Member for Porter Creek South brought the motion forward. This is an area important to her riding and her constituents.
In looking at the motion, it became apparent quickly to the government side that we needed to strengthen the motion to assist the Member for Porter Creek South. If I may, I would like to just show that comparison here so that we have a firm understanding of why itís important that we continue to work cooperatively with members on the opposite side to strengthen what we can do in this Assembly.
The original motion spoke to the point that the Government of Yukon should protect a natural park area bordered by the areas as aforementioned in its natural state as a park within the City of Whitehorse, but it did not in any way, shape or form mention how that should be done. Thatís a critical element to this initiative because how that is done becomes the very essence of being able to carry out what it is the member was trying to accomplish.
So the government side, in recognizing that and in wanting to assist the Member for Porter Creek South and help the member with her initiative, came forward with an amendment. The amendment is all about how we would carry out this action that the Member for Porter Creek South felt compelled to bring to this Legislative Assembly on behalf of her constituents.
The amendment goes on to insert into the motion, to strengthen the motion, the following: ďto work with the City of Whitehorse to establish a consultation process involving the Kwanlin Dun First Nation government, the Taían Kwachían First Nation government, Yukon College, Porter Creek residents and other stakeholders.Ē That is, I think, a very positive contribution to the Member for Porter Creek Southís motion because it establishes what is required to be able to carry out this action that the member has brought forward.
Far too often we hear from the members opposite that consultation is an issue with this government and here again is an example of what a priority we place in consultation by pointing out to the Member for Porter Creek South that we cannot do things like this without engaging other orders of government and residents and stakeholders and those who would be interested.
So by amending the motion, we have certainly put forward a contribution to the Member for Porter Creek Southís desire here and representation of her constituents. The government side is very pleased to be able to do that.
But I think itís important, considering the time. This is what Iím going to put on the floor ó that we vote on this now, so that this Assembly, hopefully, will unanimously support this motion now, which speaks to this specific area in the City of Whitehorse and how we would go about carrying out this action. I would urge all members to quickly move toward closure ó Iím sure the member will get up and have a brief statement ó and then we can get to vote on this amended motion, so that we give it the full force and effect of this Assembly by recorded vote.
We are pleased ó I noticed the Member for Porter Creek South is feeling much better about this whole motion, seeing that the government side has provided some very valuable assistance. We on the government side will support this motion, as amended, and give credit to the Member for Porter Creek South for starting this initiative and allowing the government side to help her out with it.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: If the member speaks now, she will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard? Leader of the third party.
Ms. Duncan: Iím pleased to have the last few minutes of the floor. It may come as a surprise to the Premier in his learned time in this Assembly that there are two sides to every story ó at least ó and I donít quite share his view that somehow the amendment has strengthened the motion. Unfortunately ó and there is a song that frequently comes to mind as I walk into the Assembly. I canít quote you the singer or the songwriter, but the first line is something to the effect of, ďLook what theyíve done to my song, ma.Ē Iím sure members will remember it.
It seems to me that I can recall that the Member for Riverdale South and the Member for Watson Lake used to sing that on a regular basis when we were debating issues that were brought forward by members on this side. So it has changed for the better, in the view of the government, but not necessarily in the view of the person who brought it forward.
I have difficulty with several points that have been made this afternoon. There has been the suggestion throughout the afternoon that, by bringing forward this motion, I have somehow been disrespectful of the City of Whitehorseís process and the discussion of the bylaw change, as well as the public meetings. I am not suggesting that anyone has inferred motives, Mr. Speaker. I am saying that there has been a common thread through the debate that there is a public process in the city that must take place.
It is truly unfortunate that members opposite did not hear ó or I was somehow not clear enough ó that I said throughout my discussions that I absolutely believe in the City of Whitehorseís process. I have attended the zoning bylaw meetings. I believe very strongly in making the views of my constituents known in a respectful manner to another order of government. I have worked with the planning department. They posted a meeting, at my suggestion, in my riding, which I also attended.
I have at all times conducted myself respectfully, I believe, in representing my constituents with that order of municipal government, in written correspondence and in public presentations.
The difficulty I have is that, although I have noted the city process and been respectful of the city process, there is also a role for the Government of Yukon to play. That was the reason I brought the motion forward. The Government of Yukon has authority over Commissionerís land. The Government of Yukon is the developer of lots within the City of Whitehorse.
The Government of Yukon has a role to play and ministers of the Government of Yukon of the day have a choice to make. They could make a choice to hear what residents are saying, to look at the laws that are on the books, including the Parks and Land Certainty Act, and initiate the process in that regard. That process is a full, open and public consultation process where all the partners are included. They donít have to be named in an amended motion. The amendment wasnít necessary. The amendment was reflective of the government not wishing to make the choice of following the Parks and Land Certainty Act, but instead amending the motion. Mr. Speaker, I might add that this doesnít ask the government to do anything different from what they have already done.
Within the life of the Yukon Party government opposite, the minister, the Member for Porter Creek Centre, announced at a Porter Creek community association meeting that Versluce Meadow, owned by the Government of Yukon ó Commissionerís lands ó would be turned over to the city and residents of Porter Creek as a park. Thatís no different from what I asked them to do today ó no different.
Unfortunately, the members opposite couldnít see past the politics and the suggestions from whence it came, and amended the motion to the extent of where it asks for something that is already available to them to do, and renders the point moot, Mr. Speaker.
We have had the opportunity in discussion of this motion to share a great deal about the City of Whitehorse. I, too, have had the very good fortune of growing up in the City of Whitehorse. I would just like to share for the public record ó I havenít done this before at any of the public meetings.
We moved here in 1964. At that time, we lived downtown. As a young child, I was very familiar with the bluffs in that area. We lived in a teacherage which is now the Sarah Steele Building. From there, we moved to Takhini ó 26 Seine Square, where we lived for many, many years ó and across the Alaska Highway was Valleyview, and nothing else. There was no Mount McIntyre, there was no Department of Environment building ó Canada or otherwise ó no Granger, no Logan, no Arkell, only a tank farm beyond Valleyview.
We played in that area for years and hiked in the mountainous areas, hiked in those hills ó although there was the one summer where we were confined to the front yard because of forest fires in the area. But I can remember it being readily accessible, across the highway, and you could enjoy the wilderness area directly opposite from where Iím speaking now.
From there we moved to Hillcrest, and Hillcrest has the wonderful wetland area, for lack of a better term, of Paddyís Pond. In developing the lots in Granger, Logan and Copper Ridge, it has been clearly noted and respected by everyone concerned that Hillcrest is its own entity, that there is a noted green space between Hillcrest and other areas in Whitehorse.
I have also lived briefly in Riverdale and in Crestview before settling for the last 12 years plus in Porter Creek. I speak of Porter Creek and this particular area with great affection and understanding of where the residents are coming from because, as the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin noted, our children are growing up with wetlands outside their door. When I take my daughter to swimming early Saturday morning, regularly we see several coyotes. They go as classes; they are in that particular area. They know the fundamentals and understand the principles of no-trace camping. Theyíre able to learn these skills and value for the land and stewardship of our environment because we have wilderness spaces within our city.
This motion asked nothing more than that the Yukon government accept their responsibility, act on their responsibility and protect this green space, which is under their care and control, following the process thatís outlined, already in the act. It wasnít necessary to spell it out and, I believe, diminish the motion.
That being said, I believe very strongly that this area should be protected. Just for the benefit of the members opposite who, although ruled out of order, had thought that perhaps this was new to me, I would invite them to examine the public record from November 1997. Before any length of time in this Legislature, I was speaking about this very same issue and representing my constituents and the viewpoint I presented at that time is the exact same viewpoint I presented today. The viewpoint I presented was asking nothing more than the Government of Yukon to act on their responsibilities charged with ó
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker: The member has the floor.
Ms. Duncan: The motion asked nothing more than the Government of Yukon ó
Speaker: Order please. The time being 6:00 p.m., the House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
Debate on Motion No. 426, as amended, accordingly adjourned
The House adjourned at 6:00 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled April 13, 2005:
Order-in-Council 2005/02, An Act Approving Yukon Land Claims Final Agreements and First Nations (Yukon) Self Government Act (Kwanlin Dun First Nation) (dated February 19, 2005) and Kwanlin Dun First Nation Final Agreement† (Fentie)
Kwanlin Dun First Nation Self-Government Agreement†† (Fentie)
Electoral Reform: Final Report by Ken McKinnon, Senior Advisor on Electoral Reform (dated February 1, 2005)† (Fentie)
Yukon College 2003-04 Annual Report and audited Financial Statements (dated June 30, 2004) prepared by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada† (Edzerza)
Government Contracting Summary Report by Department (April 1, 2004 Ė January 31, 2005)
The following document was filed April 13, 2005:
Carmacks School, letter re: (undated) to Hon. Dennis Fentie, Premier, Government of Yukon† (Fairclough)