Backgrounder - Amendments to the Yukon Surface Rights Board Act

In 2010 the Government announced its Action Plan to Improve Northern Regulatory Regimes. The Action Plan’s objective is to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and predictability of regulatory regimes; to support environmental monitoring programs, and ensure Aboriginal voices are heard.

The Northern Jobs and Growth Act proposes amendments to the Yukon Surface Rights Board Act that will contribute to the goal of providing clarity and predictability for resource projects and offer a clear, consistent and reliable dispute resolution mechanism for surface and subsurface rights holders and landowners or occupants in the Yukon.

In addition, the proposed amendments to the Yukon Surface Rights Board Act will grant legal immunity to individual board members and employees of the Yukon Surface Rights Board from prosecution for decisions made in good faith. The bill will remove the requirement for the Auditor General to audit the Yukon Surface Rights Board and allow independent auditors. Finally, it will make members of the Board whose terms have expired eligible to render final decisions on hearings they have been a part of.

About the Yukon Surface Rights Board

The Yukon Surface Rights Board Act was created in 1994 to meet Canada’s obligations arising from the Yukon Umbrella Final Agreement.

The Yukon Surface Rights Board is a tribunal whose primary role is to resolve access disputes between those owning or having an interest in the surface of the land and others with access rights to the land. These disputes are primarily related to accessing or using Yukon First Nation settlement land and, in certain circumstances, disputes involving access to or use of non-settlement land.

The Board is an independent, impartial body made up of five members - two of whom are selected by the Council of Yukon First Nations and two selected by the Government. The fifth member – the Chairperson – is appointed by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development based on a recommendation from the other Board members. Appointments to the Board are for a three-year term.