Yukon Planning Regions

Peel Watershed Planning CouncilThe PWPC was 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 ceased operations shortly thereafter.

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 .

The area of the Peel Watershed region is: 67431 km2.

Dignitaries and elders gather after the signing.

On August 22, 2019, the regional plan for the Peel Watershed was approved by all five Parties: Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, the Gwich’in Tribal Council, and the Yukon. Hundreds of people gathered in Mayo for the festivities, many attending a signing and water ceremony on the shore of the Stewart River. This marks the second regional plan to be approved under chapter 11 of Yukon's Final Agreements, and a milestone for reconciliation in the Yukon.

Cover of What We Heard Report

The Parties to the Peel Watershed planning process consulted on the Final Recommended Plan in late 2018. They recently released a report detailing what was heard during that consultation. These results will help inform their discussions on finding a shared position on the Plan, and ultimately finalize and approve the Plan. The consultation and report were done by a consultant, Stantec.

The Council is pleased that there is a ruling on the Peel Watershed Plan, and looks forward to incorporating it into our future planning processes. We will take actions that will help build a common understanding Yukon's Land Claim Agreements. With our staff and legal counsel, we will review the decision and will make substantive comments in the near future. See also our initial press release.

Peel Watershed Planning Commission's Final Recommended Plan was central to the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling. As always, this document, and other planning documents are found on our website and the Commission's.

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.

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