Category: Scott Kent Letters

Why Hydro? Planning for Yukon’s Future Energy Needs

Scott Kent, MLA for Riverdale North

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, Jun 6th, 2014
by Scott Kent, Minister of Energy, Mines & Resources

Yukon currently relies on four hydro facilities that provide approximately 78 megawatts of energy for residents, businesses and industrial customers. While this provides a solid foundation for continued growth, new sources of electricity are required to sustain our needs in the future. Yukon’s hydroelectrical supply is now close to capacity and there is currently no transmission connection to another jurisdiction, where power can be bought or sold. New industrial projects would exceed Yukon’s existing hydro generating capacity.

Our government has directed the Yukon Development Corporation (YDC) to plan one or more hydroelectric projects that will meet the expected growth in demand for power and bring long-term benefits to Yukon. However, we know that any projects we undertake must be done with the appropriate research and forethought. YDC recently released a hydroelectric power work plan, Next Generation Hydro for Yukon, which will guide this work.

We must plan and develop our own solutions to ensure there is a future supply of clean electrical energy – a supply that meets both mid‐term and long‐term needs.
The Yukon government supports a next generation of hydro projects to address the gap between Yukon’s existing capacity and future demand, complemented by additional renewable sources and a backup supply of fossil fuels. We see this as the best possible solution to meet growing residential, commercial and potential industrial demand.

The next steps are two Requests for Proposals (RFPs) by Yukon Development Corporation. One will retain a qualified project engagement team to oversee the delivery of the engagement plan described in the YDC work plan. The scope of work associated with this RFP includes project engagement with stakeholders and the public, consultation with First Nation governments, and communications about next generation hydro.

As noted, the project engagement team will deliver on several components of the engagement plan, including First Nation consultation, public conversation and engagement through community visits and events, and coordinating the consultation and engagement based on sound science and technical data. They will also be tasked with communicating the potential positive and negative socio-economic and environmental impacts of such a project, with particular regard to the First Nation or First Nations in whose traditional territory the next generation hydro projects may be located. The project engagement RFP has been published and closes June 19. A second RFP related to the technical components of the work plan will be released soon.

As planning for next generation hydro continues, Yukon’s two regulated utilities, Yukon Energy Corporation (YEC) and Yukon Electrical Company Limited (YECL), will continue their work to meet Yukon’s energy needs. Our government looks forward to working with all stakeholders to plan and expand Yukon’s energy capacity, so we can all continue to enjoy a high quality of life in the territory.

Cooperation in the Heart of Riverdale

Darrell Pasloski, Premier, MLA for MountainviewScott Kent, MLA for Riverdale North

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, Apr 4th, 2013

by Darrell Pasloski, Premier and Scott Kent, MLA for Riverdale North

About ten years ago, Andrea Simpson-Fowler saw an opportunity. She dreamt of establishing a community centre for her neighbourhood—a place for kids to learn and grow into good citizens, supported by family, friends and neighbours of different generations. And with that, the idea that would become the Heart of Riverdale was born.

Simpson-Fowler approached her former MLA Ted Staffen who joined forces with former Riverdale South MLA Glenn Hart. They supported the idea and began working with government to seek out opportunities for funding. As the 2011 election approached, the Yukon Party made a platform commitment to Andrea and community residents to support the establishment of a youth centre in Riverdale.

As a result of all these efforts, the Heart of Riverdale Community Centre was set up approximately two years ago at the corner of Klondike Road and Lewes Boulevard in Riverdale. Through hard work, community support and funding from our government, the centre has grown into a space where all community members are welcome to participate and join together to develop positive healthy skills and attitudes. It offers a wide range of programming, including a kids’ pop choir, after-school homework assistance, a knitting circle, a community book club and spring break camps.

That brings us to the recent announcement of $140,000 to support the centre in programming, hiring of instructors and operational costs. We are pleased that this funding will continue for the next three years, as outlined in the proposed 2014-15 territorial budget.

We want to extend our thanks to those who worked tirelessly to create a centre that has already grown into a dynamic gathering place where people can come together, learn and gain a sense of belonging to their community. Thank you to Andrea, centre coordinator Susie Anne Bartsch, centre president Sue Starr and all the board members and youth advisors who have helped along the way.

We were very happy to visit the Heart of Riverdale Community Centre earlier this week, and see the cheerful comfortable space that has been created there. We are proud to support this centre, a shining example of what can be achieved when families, neighbours and communities work together. We’re confident that this group will make great things happen with this funding, and that people of all ages will benefit.

To find out more about the Centre and its programming, we encourage you to visit www.theheartofriverdale.com.

Recent Changes to Yukon’s Quartz and Placer Mining Acts Build on Past Success

Scott Kent, MLA for Riverdale North

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, Jan 3rd, 2014
by Scott Kent, Minister of Energy, Mines & Resources

In Yukon, the Quartz Mining Act and the Placer Mining Act are longstanding statutes that provide a well-understood framework for mineral exploration, development and production. These laws have provided a strong regulatory foundation for many years, including the past seven years as three new mines opened in Yukon, providing hundreds of new jobs while growing our population and economy.

Although both Acts have been in place for many decades, they have been updated a number of times. Recent examples include amendments to regulations in 2005 to accommodate new federal environmental assessment legislation, a new mine reclamation closure policy and security regulations for hard rock mines in 2006, and the modernization of claim staking administration and new royalty regulations in 2010.

Most recently, changes were required as a result of a Yukon Court of Appeal order in a case brought by the Ross River Dena Council (RRDC). In December, the Yukon Legislative Assembly passed amendments to the placer and quartz mining acts to allow the government to designate areas where notification for low-level exploration would be required. As well, the Yukon government amended the placer and quartz mining land use regulations to define how the notification would work.

The changes made last month will require that notice is given to government if Class 1 (or low-level) exploration is to be undertaken on mining claims in the Ross River area. Examples of Class 1 activities include limited trenching, small clearings and use of low ground pressure off-road vehicles. The main process for this notification has been defined, but more work will be done in the coming weeks to determine which activities will require notification and which will not.

The amendments have been designed so that government can meet its obligations to First Nations while maintaining an efficient and competitive regulatory process. We recognize the need for certainty and through these changes we are committed to maintaining our world-class regulatory systems, while improving communications and relations across the mining sector.

Our government is confident that these changes will meet the requirements of the court decision and protect the asserted aboriginal rights claimed by the RRDC, without causing unreasonable disruption to the mining and mineral exploration industry in Yukon. A wholesale revision of the mining acts, as has been suggested by some, would not support Yukon’s economic well-being. In the current global economic downturn in mineral exploration and development, the industry is already facing challenges in continuing to provide positive economic and social benefits to Yukoners.

In addition to these recent legislative changes, our government remains committed to meeting with Yukon First Nation leaders to discuss priorities for the development of new resource legislation in general, not simply for mining, and how this work may proceed. We look forward to productive discussions in the future.

As another requirement of the Yukon Court of Appeal decision, the Yukon government is working with the RRDC to determine what land in the Ross River area should be available for mineral staking.

While the Yukon government and RRDC continue our work in this area, an interim mineral staking prohibition order will be in place in the Ross River area, until April 30, 2014. We have committed to finding a solution that will work for all, while also maintaining the Ross River area as a significant place for the mining and exploration industry.

It’s important to note that the court did not question the free entry system, and neither do we. Free entry allows individuals to acquire rights to minerals through staking and it is this government’s view that free entry provides a fundamental role for the individual and for entrepreneurship in our society. It is an avenue to the discovery of hidden mineral wealth by following up on hunches, ideas and the pursuit of a dream. This approach is part of what has helped build Yukon into what it is today.

The Government of Yukon continues its open-door policy for all stakeholders and invites those who want to constructively discuss mining issues to meet with us. We support responsible development, we support jobs, and we support Yukon’s mining sector, an industry that has shaped Yukon for more than a century.

Mining Sector Key Contributor to Yukon Economy

Scott Kent, MLA for Riverdale North

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star and Yukon News on Friday, Nov 15th, 2013
by Scott Kent, Minister of Energy, Mines & Resources

Next week, key mining industry stakeholders will be in Whitehorse for the 41st annual Yukon Geoscience Forum and Trade Show.

While the global economy has experienced significant challenges and there are some current economic headwinds, Yukon’s mineral exploration and development sector is positioned well to rebound in the months and years ahead.

In the past decade, growth in the territory’s mining industry has been tremendous. Looking back to 2002, mineral production in Yukon was sustained mainly by placer gold production and was estimated at only $25 million. Since then, hard rock production has expanded significantly, resulting in a twenty-fold increase in the sector’s value over the course of the decade. Last year, mineral production contributed approximately $509 million to Yukon’s economy.

Mining exploration has gone through a boom of its own. In 2002, it generated a mere $7 million. By 2011, Yukon’s “second gold rush” was well underway, with exploration expenditures at over $300 million and more than 114,000 new claims staked – the largest staking rush in our history.

There are currently three operating mines in Yukon, with an additional six projects in the permitting stage and about 10 at an advanced exploration or feasibility stage.

Today, the Government of Yukon continues to promote the territory through our investment attraction efforts. We are focused on diversification, targeting new opportunities within the mining industry and continuing our work on infrastructure development, so that as the mining sector grows, transportation and other necessary infrastructure is there to meet its needs.

The Yukon government has reinforced its commitment to support the mining sector through improving regulatory certainty and creating a more streamlined regulatory regime, with clarified roles and responsibilities among Yukon’s main regulatory agencies. Our goal is to make the entire process more consistent, coordinated, timely and transparent, providing direct benefits to claim-holders, mine developers, First Nations and Yukoners. We need to be diligent in this work to ensure we remain competitive with other jurisdictions.

We have made many improvements over the past 11 years, including successfully amending claims administration and staking provisions of the Quartz Mining Act, and also the development of a modern royalty system for hard rock mines. As well, we have created a more modernized Miners Lien Act.

We are fully aware that skilled labour shortages in the mining sector will be an ongoing issue for Yukon.

In preparation for the expected rebound in mining prospects in the years to come, our government continues to work closely with Yukon College, the federal government and industry partners to meet skilled labour needs in the mining sector. Yukon’s Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining is receiving capital and operations and maintenance support from our government (more than $11 million over five years) to provide training opportunities in both Whitehorse and other Yukon communities.

While mining stakeholders meet in Whitehorse during the next few days, it’s important to remember how far our mining industry has come and recognize the industry’s importance to our ongoing success and well-being. It is widely accepted that the resource wealth of the North could drive northern community development while kick-starting the expansion of other sectors.
The Government of Yukon will not lose sight of this and will work with all stakeholders to ensure that measured and responsible development will move forward, so that our economy can continue to grow.

Micro-generation Plan Good News for Yukon Electricity Consumers

Scott Kent, MLA for Riverdale North

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star and Yukon News on Friday, Nov 1st, 2013
by Scott Kent, Minister of Energy, Mines & Resources

Earlier this week, the Government of Yukon announced a new micro-generation policy to allow individuals to offset their current power consumption by generating their own electricity through renewable means.

The micro-generation policy offers individuals the opportunity to export surplus electricity to the grid for financial compensation and is good news for consumers for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it provides opportunities for Yukoners to produce electricity for their own consumption and gives them the ability to offset their energy use with renewable energy generation.

Secondly, it encourages the development and adoption of new individual renewable energy sources that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote energy conservation and greater energy efficiency in Yukon.

To make the program work, Yukon’s utility operators will track the amount of electricity exported and electricity used in a year and will then share the information with the Yukon government.

Through a micro-generation incentive program, the government will offer participants a financial payment for the surplus electricity they produce. The rate will be set at $0.21 per kilowatt-hour for communities connected to the grid and $0.30 per kilowatt-hour in communities powered by diesel generation.

The Yukon government will reimburse micro-generation customers on an annual basis for all exported electricity generated through the year.

This policy is an important part of the Energy Strategy for Yukon which was released by our government in 2009. That plan outlines our desire to provide Yukoners with a continuing and abundant supply of clean and affordable power and our serious intention to take a holistic view in planning Yukon’s electricity future.

While the micro-generation project allows us to have individual producers generate electricity, we are also looking at alternative power sources such as wind and biomass and more affordable options that could reduce diesel consumption in communities not connected to the hydro system.

The Government of Yukon recognizes the current necessity of a continued supply of fossil fuels as a backup source to the hydro system. However, in the months and years to come, we will remain committed to moving forward together with all Yukon residents to ensure our clean power future balances environmental and fiscal responsibility.

We know Yukoners are concerned about the environment and with the micro-generation project the Government of Yukon is taking another step toward ensuring affordable power for Yukoners while maintaining our focus on environmental protection.