Peel Watershed Planning CouncilThe PWPC is an arms length commission with members that are jointly nominated by the Yukon, Na-Cho Nyak Dun, Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in, Gwich'in and Vuntut Gwitchin governments. Their land use plan is meant to apply to all Settlement and Non-settlement lands in the planning region. The Commission produced their Final Recommended Plan in July 2011.

The Commission's website is still active, and serves up their documents. This website will eventually be decommissioned. Their documents are also served on this website   folder here .

December 2015, the plaintiffs (the coalition of First Nations and environmental groups) announced they would seek an appeal of the Yukon Court of Appeal’s decision through the Supreme Court of Canada stating that if the Court of Appeal decision is allowed to stand, allowing one party to suddenly return to step one in the exercise after all the parties thought they moved on to step three would undermine the intent of the planning process as prescribed in the Final Agreements. Therefore, they argued that YG should not be granted a chance to do it all over again. They felt that had YG been upfront and honourable in following the planning process, then at the end of the day they would be free to invoke the clause which allows accepting, rejecting or modifying recommendations from the Commission. It was only after YG rejected the Commissions Recommended Plan that they delivered and adopted their own version of a land use plan.

On June 9, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada gave notice that they would grant hearing the Peel Watershed case. The plaintiffs (the First Nation of Na Cho Nyäk Dän, the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in, the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, CPAWS Yukon and the Yukon Conservation Society, again represented by lawyer Thomas Berger and colleagues) seek overruling of the Court of Appeal decision and Justice Veale’s judgement be reinstated- adopting the Commission’s Final Recommended Plan. The defendant (Yukon Government, represented by lawyer John Laskin, and colleagues) stated at that time that they hoped the Supreme Court of Canada could "provide clarity and certainty to questions about how Yukon’s regional land use planning process should work and can make it clear that public government has the final say over public land."

On March 22, 2017, the Supreme Court of Canada heard the Peel Watershed Case, with the Attorney General of Canada, Gwich'in Tribal Council, and the Council for Yukon First Nations intervening. Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin prevailed over the hearing.

A summary of the case is provided here by the Supreme Court of Canada.

It is impossible to know when a decision will be reached; however, it will probably be reached by December 2017, or earlier.

On December 30, 2014, Yukon Government (YG) announced that they were appealing Justice Veale’s decision stating that the trial judge erred not only in his interpretation and application of the Final Agreements but also erred in granting punitive remedy. YG felt that the Final Agreements do not require proposed modifications under s. 11.6.2 to rise to any particular level of specificity, nor do the proposed modifications amount to approval of a land use plan, nor do the Final Agreements restrict either party’s ability to modify a planning commissions final recommended plan as it relates to lands within the sphere of authority, and finally, that the Final Agreements do not call for any consultations beyond those that were conducted by the Parties.

November 4, 2015, Chief Justice Bauman, Madam Justice Smith and Justice Goepel of the Yukon Court of Appeal confirmed breach of YG treaty obligations. The ruling stated that Yukon Government’s Plan for the Peel Watershed was a ‘legal nullilty’, however, they also ruled that the process must return to the point at which YG breach of the Final Agreements began. The Court of Appeal’s judgement would then allow YG to go back to 2010 and start the process over at the point when it received the Commission’s Recommended Plan instead of remitting the matter to the stage of final consultation. The Court of Appeal also stated that at the end of the day YG held the final authority to reject any plan resulting from the process.

 

The Yukon Supreme Court Justice Ron Veale released his ruling on the Peel Watershed planning process. His full ruling and a more concise media summary may be found on the the Court's website. While the details are numerous he decided:

  • The January 2014 Government approved Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan is quashed.
  • The Government of Yukon is required to hold final Consultations with the affected First Nations on the Commission's Final Recommended Land Use Plan.
  • These consultations are to be based on the modifications Yukon Government proposed to the Commission's earlier Recommended Land Use Plan.

The Yukon Land Use Planning Council is reviewing this decision.

 

Nick Grzybowski, a former intern at the Council, recently completed his masters thesis which captured the knowledge and experience of of those involved in the Peel Watershed planning process. Congratulations and good luck Nick! His thesis is available pdf here (2.47 MB) . Nick's recent radio interview with CBC can be heard here.

Nick used the Council's office and resources while researching much of his thesis. However, links to this article are provided here to foster discussion of regional planning processes, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Yukon Land Use Planning Council.

Northern Review Peel case studyThe academic journal the Northern Review recently published a case study of part of the Peel Watershed Planning Process - specifically that led by the Yukon Government upon receipt of the   pdf Final Recommended Plan (13.26 MB) . This analysis provides a number of lessons for future regional planning processes.

Links to this article are provided here to foster discussion of regional planning processes, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Yukon Land Use Planning Council.

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