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The Yukon Party is troubled with the Government of Canada’s decision to refer the Kudz Ze Kayah (KZK) Project back to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB) after four years in the process.
This is unfortunately the latest example in a long list of resource projects that have been plagued by delays and ever-changing expectations and goalposts by the regulator and Liberal governments. The current situation has led to increased uncertainty for mining investment in the territory.
While the most recent KZK decision was a Government of Canada decision, the Premier and his Liberal government share responsibility for the delays on this project and others in the territory.
In early 2017, the Yukon Liberal government promised the mining industry that a collaborative framework would be developed to address industry concerns around timelines on projects going through the environmental assessment process. Since that time, despite numerous questions from the Yukon Party Official Opposition, the Yukon Liberal government has made little or no progress on this promise.
Also in 2018, the Liberals sent a clear signal to the industry by adding an extra layer of uncertainty to a different project that received a favourable YESAB recommendation by adding the requirement for a sub-regional land use plan to it. They declared this as a “new way of doing business” at the time. After many missed deadlines related to that project, in the fall of 2020 the Premier and his Liberal government rejected the application for this project to proceed – even though it had received a favourable YESAB assessment.
The Liberals have made many commitments to the mining industry over the last four years of their government. Yet, as with most of their commitments, these have gone unfulfilled. The result has been increased uncertainty and more delays. If the Premier and his Liberal government had taken their promises seriously and started addressing their commitments years ago, then perhaps this situation of uncertainty could have been avoided.
The territory’s future economic prospects depend on mining. Yukoners are tired of a government that struggles at delivering on its promises.
Over the last year, we have been meeting with hundreds of Yukoners and members of the business community to get fresh ideas on the future of the territory and the economy. We look forward to announcing policies in the coming weeks and months that will pave the way toward a bright economic and social future.
“It’s time to get to work.”
March 16, 2017 press release where the government promised a collaborative framework to address industry concerns around timelines and reassessments: https://open.yukon.ca/data/sites/default/files/17-047.pdf
The following is a quote from a mining company’s news release after the Yukon Liberal government made a decision to cancel their project after receiving a positive YESAB recommendation and changing the rules mid-game:
"We are extremely disappointed with, and surprised by this decision" said (ATAC) President and CEO Graham Downs. "This was an application for a private, single-lane, gravel and controlled-access road in an area with existing winter trail access. If this road can't be permitted following a positive environmental and socio-economic assessment decision and years of governmental encouragement to invest in the project, then you have to wonder if Yukon is in fact open for business." - https://bit.ly/2KL0F9U