When a proposed project is submitted to YESAB, they determine if the project will fall within a planning region with an approved plan. If so, it sends the YLUPC a letter requesting a conformity check. YLUPC staff then indicate whether or not a project would conform with the plan, and what practices and strategies recommended in the plan would be the most relevant. Recently, we looked at whether the project "Dempster Fibre Optics Project" conformed in both the North Yukon and Peel Watershed Regions.

We determined that it conformed in both regions, though some of the thinking was different in each check. Some general observations:

North Yukon conformity check:

  • The installation of the fibre optic line will occur within the right-of-way (ROW) of existing roads and highways (the Dempster High in this case). This should reduce the impacts to permafrost.
  • Limiting the project largely to the ROW will place new disturbances in areas already disturbed by highway construction and maintenance. Therefore, there should be little net additional disturbance.
  • The project appears to fall entirely with the Dempster Highway 1 km zone exempt from disturbance indicator evaluations otherwise required by the plan.
  • The project appears to follow most the best management practices listed in the Plan.
  • Most of the proposed activity will be in winter, which may be the best time to mitigate effects on permafrost, riparian environments and other values. However, this timing is not ideal for the Porcupine Caribou Herd. The proposed wildlife monitor and work cessation if caribou are within 1 km should adequately address this concern.

Peel Watershed conformity check:

  • The Plan acknowledges that there is potential for the development of a fibre-optic line in the right-of-way of the Dempster Highway.
  • Limiting the project largely to the ROW will place new disturbances in areas already disturbed by highway construction and maintenance. Therefore, there should be little net additional disturbance.
  • This project falls within the Ogilvie and Blackstone Major River Corridors, where ecological and visual integrity are to be maintained. However, this project, as described, is unlikely to impact the visual integrity of the corridor. The proponent should site the camps and other activities to minimize these impacts.
  • The Plan calls for sub-regional planning for the Dempster Corridor. However, since this project was anticipated in the plan and should not result in significant new disturbances, it has limited implications and requirements for sub-regional planning.
  • The project occurs in a community use area likely related to harvesting Porcupine Caribou; therefore, this project should be timed as early as possible to avoid the fall migration and harvesting. If this is not possible, the proposed wildlife monitor and work cessation if caribou are within 1 km should adequately address this concern. Consult with the regional biologist. The project also falls near potential fish over-wintering habitat.
  • The boundary between LMUs 3 & 5 and LMUs 2&4 is the Dempster Highway, and therefore both LMUs are implicated in this project. However, the management directions for LMUs 3 & 5 are very similar, while LMUs 2 & 4 should be managed with a higher level of conservation focus. This may include limits on aggregate extraction and new above-ground infrastructure.

Both of these approved plans call for a Dempster Highway Sub-regional Plan. Such a plan would have provided more clarity for project proponents and assessors.

More information on North Yukon and Peel conformity checks are found here and here.

Yukon Regional Planning Links

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