Now that the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan has been approved, it is time to put it into action. The Parties to this plan, the Yukon Government and the governments of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation,Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in, Na-Cho Nyak Dun and the Gwich'in Tribal Council, have agreed on some plan implementation tasks. One task, checking the conformity of proposed projects to the plan, is being done by the Yukon Land Use Planning Council.
The Umbrella Final Agreement (section 12.7.1) and the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act (section 44.1) specify that planning commissions do this task. However, because the Peel Watershed Planning Commission won't be maintained, the staff of the Yukon Land Use Planning Council (YLUPC) will do conformity checks on their behalf. Here's how it works:
When the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Designated Office seeks views and information from the public and stakeholders about a proposed project, it determines if the project will fall within the Peel Watershed Planning Region. If so, it sends the YLUPC a letter requesting a conformity check. YLUPC staff then visit YESAB's online registry (YOR) to read the project's specifications. Staff then fill in a form that indicates whether or not a project would conform with the plan, and what practices and strategies recommended in the plan would be the most relevant.This approach has been used for the North Yukon Region, as well as for the Final Recommended Peel Watershed Plan (these were called "consistency checks").
Completed conformity checks are listed below, using YESAB's project numbering system:
- 2012-0030: Quartz Exploration – Mike Lake Project (April 2, 2012)
- 2012-0092: Crest Remediation (April 11, 2012)
- 2017-0088: Culvert Replacements, KM 227 and KM 237 Dempster Highway
- 2018-0011: Km 129.5 Dempster Highway Culvert Replacement
- 2019-0065: Granular Pit Development – Dempster Highway – Km 226
- 2019-0140: Dempster Fibre Optics Project (Peel)
Part of the conformity check includes the comparison between projected landscape disturbance indicators for each of the Landscape Management Units (LMUs) potentially affected by the project and the cautionary and critical levels assigned to each LMU. Two indicators are assessed: new surface disturbance (or 'footprint'), and new linear disturbance. To do this, the YLUPC need an estimate of the current amount of each disturbance indicator. Unfortunately, these estimates have not yet been determined by the Yukon Government, but are expected to be completed in the coming years. Until these estimates are published, the YLUPC usually cannot determine if a proposal will result in excessive landscape disturbance or not. As a result, many conformity checks will consist of a list of relevant mitigative strategies and practices. Other, more extensive, proposals may require examination of the Commission's estimated disturbance levels, together with the fire history and landscape of the project. Presentations for project 2013-0067 and project 2014-0112 (from the North Yukon Region) go over many of these consideration