Caring for our Environment

Together today for our children tomorrow as stewards of the land, water, air, fish, wildlife and our way of life

We acknowledge and honour the wisdom of Yukon First Nation Elders. Yukoners are people shaped by our natural surroundings – clean air, fresh water, wild places and wildlife – so we count on government to make good decisions that respect the environment. Yukon New Democrats recognize that evidence-based decision-making will help us balance human and ecosystem needs, as well as address long term challenges like responding effectively to climate change and protecting our water quality. We respect and value the independence of Yukon’s socio-economic and environmental assessment process. We believe environmental considerations must be fully considered and addressed in policy proposals, development decision-making and permitting by government.

A New Democratic government is committed to listening to and working with First Nation governments, the public, scientific experts, boards and councils and industry stakeholders on environmental issues.

Caring, acting and leading on climate change

Yukoners know climate change is real and that the world must move away from fossil fuels. The impact of our greenhouse gas emissions can be viewed as modest on a global scale. Nonetheless even as a small jurisdiction, as northerners we can and must contribute toward solutions and resist making excuses. Climate change is the single most urgent environmental issue facing Yukon, Canada and the planet. We are all citizens with global responsibilities to reduce and control our greenhouse gas emissions. Yukon New Democrats believe we, with stakeholders, other provinces/territories and the Government of Canada, can and must do more to address climate change and be part of crafting effective solutions, including national carbon pricing, not just adapt to its effects.

A YUKON NEW DEMOCRATIC TEAM WILL

  • work with First Nations, industry, NGOs and other governments including Canada, to develop a new and credible action plan to reduce and/or offset fossil fuel use in Yukon with territory-wide emission reduction targets, emissions measuring and reporting mechanism to track our progress toward a low carbon economy by 2050
  • work with federal, provincial and territorial partners to meet our international climate change obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while advocating strongly for long-term investments by the Government of Canada to address northern realities and challenges as a national imperative
  • work with the Government of Canada on its proposal to establish a carbon pricing mechanism for Canada along with national measures mitigating impacts on Yukon’s economy and supporting adaptation. And immediately set to work with Yukoners on a made-in-Yukon carbon pricing model that is in the best interests of the territory. Among the considerations are that it address both climate change objectives and the transition to a green energy economy, be revenue neutral with proceeds applied to offset impacts on low and middle income Yukoners and invest in the Green Energy Investment Fund and building Yukon’s future.

Moving ahead with the Peel Watershed and ‘made in Yukon’ regional land use planning

Yukon is envied around the world – for our wilderness, natural resources, our tourism and recreational opportunities, and our unique lifestyles. Following the regional land use planning process set out in First Nation Final Agreements allows us to collectively identify and protect key values while supporting responsible development. Until regional land use plans are complete, the Yukon faces unacceptable economic uncertainty.

A YUKON NEW DEMOCRATIC TEAM WILL

  • immediately protect the Peel Watershed – among the world’s great wilderness landscapes – by acting on the Final Report of the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Planning Commission to balance preservation and development in the area; and will make arguments to the Supreme Court of Canada consistent with this objective
  • make it a priority and work in a principled manner with First Nation governments, the Government of Canada, industry and stakeholders to get regional land-use planning going again with a respectful and effective process, timelines and adequate resources to get the job done and provide the certainty needed in the territory.

Tackling solid waste diversion, recycling and management

All societies produce garbage, although some less than others – the key is to rethink, reduce, re-use or deal with it. The age of simply throwing it away is over. The Yukon has made progress with aspects of recycling and made-in Yukon organic waste composting. The number of waste disposal sites has been reduced and their safety improved. Nonetheless, appropriate and financially sustainable waste diversion, recycling and management arrangements continue to elude the Yukon.

A YUKON NEW DEMOCRATIC TEAM WILL

  • work with neighbouring provinces/territories towards long-term regional product stewardship programs for efficient and sustainable diversion and recycling with costs borne by the products producing the waste materials rather than through deposits or increases in public government expenditures
  • on a priority basis, in collaboration with local experts, municipalities, unincorporated communities and stakeholders, complete a new territory-wide plan with aggressive targets, and garner a collective commitment to waste reduction, diversion, and recycling targets and shared investments over the next ten years
  • in the meantime, work with all relevant parties on interim and medium-term solutions to address outstanding recycling program and regulatory shortfalls.

Demonstrating environmental stewardship

There are many issues of great concern to Yukoners. The Yukon government is years behind in meeting its obligations, under land claims and its own legislation, to develop and implement wildlife management plans, protect sensitive habitats and gather the data needed to identify and protect important ecosystems.

Fracking

A YUKON NEW DEMOCRATIC TEAM WILL

  • ban fracking to remove any uncertainty about where Yukoners stand.

Special management areas, wetlands and community stewardship

A YUKON NEW DEMOCRATIC TEAM WILL

  • in consultation with First Nation governments, Yukoners, Renewable Resources Councils and with environmental and industry stakeholders, develop and implement a territory-wide wetlands strategy
  • working with Yukon First Nations protect the special management areas identified in First Nation Final Agreements
  • support Renewable Resources Councils in achieving their mandates, their role in providing input to development project assessments, terms and conditions for approval, and monitoring
  • support baseline information collection and research to inform environmental decision-making, including at the community level.

Addressing off-road vehicle use

Yukoners know we live in a unique and beautiful place. It is important to balance access to wilderness areas – whether for traditional, recreational or industrial pursuits – with protecting sensitive ecosystems and respecting different user values. Yukon New Democrats recognize the significance of off-road vehicle use to many Yukoners for many purposes. However, it is apparent this activity is inconsistently regulated and poorly monitored, resulting in user conflicts and significant damage to sensitive habitats.

A YUKON NEW DEMOCRATIC TEAM WILL

  • implement the outstanding recommendations of the Select Committee on the Safe Operation and Use of Off-road Vehicles, such as clarifying existing laws and regulations and addressing safety issues
  • in the interim, engage the public, Yukon First Nations, Renewable Resources Councils, the Fish and Wildlife Management Board and NGOs to identify sensitive areas in need of protection (including during shoulder seasons) and use the tools provided in the Territorial Lands Act to withdraw them from use
  • provide for different levels of protection for different areas depending on the fragility of the landscape, e.g. areas such as high alpine and wetlands will be designated for considerable protection from ORV use, and adopt these values in future land use planning.

Fish and wildlife

Yukon wildlife is one of our most treasured resources. New Democrats recognize the importance of responsible hunting and fishing to food security in Yukon. It is essential to use evidence-based decision-making when developing and implementing fish and wildlife management plans.

We need to protect habitat to protect species. Our Yukon land claim agreements radically altered our approach to fish and wildlife management in the Yukon through a shared responsibility with Yukon First Nations and a guaranteed strong voice and role in decision-making for local people and communities.

A YUKON NEW DEMOCRATIC TEAM WILL

  • enact long overdue species at risk legislation, working closely with First Nation governments, boards and councils, and stakeholders
  • support an enhanced stocked lakes program for improved angling success
  • enforce wildlife and fishing laws in order to safeguard these populations for future generations.

Safeguarding water

Yukon is home to abundant water supplies, both surface and underground. Arrangements to safeguard water resources for all time are essential, including easy access to data supporting evidence-based decision making by the many governments and organizations involved in water management in Yukon.

A YUKON NEW DEMOCRATIC TEAM WILL

  • work with First Nations governments, municipalities, and water stakeholders to strengthen legislation and programs including data collection and enforcement with respect to water quality
  • amend the Waters Act or other legislation to ban the export of water, respect our First Nation Final Agreements and ensure water is protected as a public resource consistent with our collective interests and values.

Cleaning up contaminated sites

Contamination by hydrocarbons, heavy metals and carcinogenic substances is not just an unfortunate legacy of past industrial and military activities here, but an ongoing concern particularly in rural areas. Transparency and accountability is key when dealing with threats to human and environmental health. The government’s monitoring, remediation and enforcement activities can be improved. For legacy sites, like Faro and other Type 2 properties, Yukoners deserve to know what progress has been made on closure plans, how affected communities have been involved and be satisfied that economic opportunities associated with monitoring, clean-up and remediation are supporting Yukon workers and businesses.

A YUKON NEW DEMOCRATIC TEAM WILL

  • strengthen government’s capacity for inspecting, monitoring, spill response and reporting on contaminated sites
  • identify and make a plan to systematically remediate contaminated sites throughout the territory within the responsibility of the Yukon government, including highway camps
  • create a user-friendly, online public registry of contaminated sites.

Managing pesticides

There is growing scientific recognition of the adverse effects of pesticides, including for example neonicotinoid impacts on bees and other pollinator species world-wide.

A YUKON NEW DEMOCRATIC TEAM WILL

  • ensure pesticide legislation provides the means to place a moratorium on the use or ban the use of identified pesticides on a timely basis, starting with neonicotinoids.

Monitoring air quality

Yukon’s clean air cannot be taken for granted. Indoor air quality is an issue of public concern.

A YUKON NEW DEMOCRATIC TEAM WILL

  • enhance government air quality monitoring activities
  • strengthen services to assess indoor air quality in buildings of all types including housing.

LET'S BUILD A BETTER YUKON. IT'S TIME.