WHITEHORSE – Despite requests from the Official Opposition to extend consultations and hold open houses in all Yukon communities regarding the development of new thermal generation facility, the Yukon Liberals are once again leaving rural Yukon out in the cold.
The notification of open houses for the initial consultation began on May 21st, the first open house took place on June 1st, and the final open house took place on June 6th. The open houses only occurred in Whitehorse and overall the consultation lasted only a total of 13 business days. The consultation was not even advertised on EngageYukon.ca – the government’s much-trumpeted website that allegedly lists all ongoing consultations.
“The Liberals rushed through a consultation on a multi-million dollar project in just 13 business days and this is very concerning to Yukon taxpayers,” said Wade Istchenko, Official Opposition Critic for the Yukon Energy Corporation. “There is no reason that they could not have extended the consultation to a reasonable length – unless they did not want all Yukoners to have the opportunity to participate.”
The Official Opposition heard numerous concerns from Yukoners regarding this very limited timeframe for consultation as well as the complete exclusion of open houses in communities outside of Whitehorse, prompting a letter from MLA Istchenko on June 14th.
In a response letter dated July 23rd, the Minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation indicated that despite these concerns, there would be no extension nor would there be inclusion of other communities for these open houses.
“It is disappointing to see the Liberals once again ignore the voice of rural Yukon,” stated Istchenko. “All Yukoners are affected by decisions on Yukon’s energy future, and the short and long-term impacts of these projects go beyond just the location or source of energy. For example, the budgetary impacts that this multi-million dollar investment will have on the territory’s finances concerns all Yukon taxpayers, not just those living in Whitehorse.”
“The Yukon Party Official Opposition requested the extension and inclusion of other communities in the interest of fairness, because all Yukoners deserve to have their concerns and questions heard,” added Istchenko. “The decision to exclude rural Yukon from these consultations further highlights that the Liberals do not prioritize our communities.”