Successful restoration of a historic mining site achieved through collaboration

Representatives from Ta’an Kwäch’än Council, Government of Yukon, SLR Consulting and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada visited the restored site near Horse Creek Road on May 28. Photo credit: Government of Canada

                                                                                                                                 

This is a joint release between the Government of Yukon and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council.

The Government of Yukon and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council, with the support of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, have completed a four-year project to restore a contaminated site near Horse Creek Road within the Traditional Territory of the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council. This collaborative effort has significantly reduced the environmental impact to the area.

The project, completed in 2023, earned a Canada-wide recognition from the Brownie Awards for builders, innovators and visionaries who are committed to the restoration of contaminated sites. The team won the Best Small Project, under the Reach Out category for supporting a community’s competitiveness and long-term sustainability.

The restoration work conducted between 2019–23, included:

  • an environmental site assessment to determine contamination levels;
  • the development of a restoration plan to remove surface debris, structures and hazardous materials; and
  • a long-term program with education and training opportunities for Ta’an Kwäch’än Council’s Citizens to take on managing and decommissioning the site’s monitoring wells.

The Horse Creek Road contaminated site had numerous issues, including ground and water contamination, surface debris, and structures that had to be removed and disposed of at licensed facilities inside and outside of the Yukon.

The remediation work took place during the COVID-19 pandemic and was completed in July 2022, just before the site was impacted by the collapse of a beaver dam at Mud Lake.

The collapse released more than a million tonnes of water several kilometres upstream and washed thousands of tonnes of organic debris across the site. Groundwater monitoring and sampling indicated that the remediation work was successful in removing hydrocarbon contamination, reducing the likelihood of the flood having spread surface waste and contamination more widely. The flood also removed roads and clearings, and the site now appears natural, like the land has healed itself.

Ultimately, this project achieved a shared goal – “The protection of our natural environment for generations to come”.

 

The remediation of this contaminated site through collaboration and partnership is another step our government is taking to support reconciliation. Cleaning up contaminated sites is not an easy task, but these important projects help protect our health, land, water and air. By cleaning up contamination we are reducing environmental liability and ensuring a healthier environment for future generations. I am proud of the work that was accomplished.

Minister of Environment Nils Clarke

This project was an extraordinary undertaking of environmental stewardship, demonstrating our shared commitment to preserve and restore land in the Yukon. I congratulate everyone who was involved with this huge accomplishment showing that together we can make remediation possible and protect our territory for years to come.

Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources John Streicker

This site was once a historical harvesting site for our Citizens and has become a priority for our community due to the magnitude of contamination left on the abandoned property. Thanks to the huge support of our partners, the restoration work is proof that when we all share a commitment towards remediation great progress can be made. We were also fortunate that Mother Earth herself got involved in this work with the collapse of the Mud Lake Beaver Dam. This helped cleanse the site, a testament that nature itself continues to provide harmony within our Settlement Lands and Traditional Territory.

Chief Ta'an Kwäch'än Council Amanda Leas

Quick facts 
  • Founded in 2001 by the Canadian Urban Institute, the Brownie Awards recognize the innovative efforts of professionals who rehabilitate sites that were once contaminated, under-utilized and undeveloped by remaking them into productive residential and commercial projects that contribute to the growth of healthy communities across Canada.

Backgrounder 
  • The site is near Horse Creek Road, around 35 kilometres north of Whitehorse on Ta’an Kwäch’än Council Settlement Land. It was formerly a placer mine.
  • The land around the site had traditionally been used by Ta’an Kwäch’än Council Citizens for harvesting food and medicinal plants.
  • In 2017, the site owner operator passed away, and the Government of Yukon took responsibility for cleaning up the contaminated site with the financial support of the Government of Canada.
  • The project was launched in 2019 with an environmental site assessment that confirmed soil and groundwater at the site had elevated concentrations of hydrocarbons and metals.
  • In 2019, restoration included demolishing site buildings, removing waste and debris, excavating and removing  shallow contaminated soil, and landscaping and revegetation activities to restore the site.
  • The long-term monitoring program was established in 2020 and ended in 2022.
  • SLR Consulting submitted a nomination to the 2023 Brownie Awards on behalf of the Government of Yukon and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council.
Media contact 

Laura Seeley
Cabinet Communications
867-332-7627
laura.seeley@yukon.ca 

 
Mara De La Rosa
Environment Communications
867-456-5565
mara.delarosa@yukon.ca 


Janet Smellie
Ta'an Kwäch'än Council Communications
867-668-3613 extension 204
communicationsoffice@taan.ca 

News release #: 
24-254