Shawn Francis, M.Sc., P.Biol. – Principal, S. Francis Consulting Inc.
After more than two decades of efforts, North Yukon is the only approved Chapter 11 regional land use plan in Yukon. Most recently, the Peel Watershed resulted in a protracted legal challenge with an uncertain future. Two other processes—Teslin and Dawson—were initiated but not completed. Why has Yukon had such limited success in developing and approving regional land use plans?
While there may be many contributing factors, this paper will argue that a major challenge has been the lack of formal recognition by governments regarding the important role of regional planning in project-level assessment processes, such as YESAA. In the absence of well-designed regional plans, project-level assessments will continue to struggle with landscape-level management concerns that are often beyond the scope of the individual project being assessed. This paper will explore this situation and suggest methods that can improve the success of regional land use planning in Yukon. Suggested methods include improved issues-scoping by governments prior to initiating a planning process, using cumulative effects assessment approaches to explore future issues and consequences, and designing regional plans so they provide effective landscape-level decision-support tools for project assessors and regulators.