Creek protection, housing top candidate’s priorities
Pat Berrel’s résumé includes 15 years as the principal of Whitehorse Elementary School,
Pat Berrel’s résumé includes 15 years as the principal of Whitehorse Elementary School, another three as the director of French language programs for the Department of Education and involvement in numerous community organizations.
The now-retired Berrel says he has the time and experience to take a seat at the city council table.
Berrel announced this morning he will be running for one of the six councillor positions in the Oct. 18 election.
In the December 2011 byelection, Berrel placed sixth in the vote held when former councillor Doug Graham was elected to the territorial legislature two months earlier.
While Kirk Cameron ultimately won the byelection with 405 votes compared to Berrel’s 152 votes, Berrel’s position would have won him the final council seat in a full election.
Berrel said this morning McIntyre Creek continues to be a major issue for him, as it was in last December’s vote.
He said he continues to “feel strongly” it’s not an appropriate place for new housing to go.
The Porter Creek D housing development is proposed for the McIntyre Creek area, but many groups have spoken out against putting new homes in an ecologically-sensitive area.
However, housing also continues to be a major issue Berrel wants to see dealt with.
The city needs to look at ways to get affordable housing on the market, be it rental units or homes to buy.
He noted young people entering the job market don’t have the resources to live in the city, given the high cost of housing.
“Our kids can’t come back,” he said, noting their only option for returning to their home-town is to move back in with their parents.
Berrel wants to see more affordable homes on the market, but said Porter Creek D is not the place for that.
“We don’t need high-end homes,” he said, noting that’s what would be constructed in the McIntyre Creek area.
Rather, Berrel said he supports “smart infill,” developing within existing neighbourhoods in spots that aren’t used as designated greenspace. Downtown has a number of such areas, he said, noting the need to also build “up.”
As a councillor, Berrel said he would work to have the city, the Yukon and First Nations governments, Yukon Senator Dan Lang and Yukon MP Ryan Leef come together to deal with the housing problems.
Along with the housing and McIntyre Creek issues, Berrel said he also wants to continue working on making the city accessible to all.
Among the community groups he’s involved with, Berrel serves on the persons with disabilities committee, which works with the city to work on accessibility issues.
As a prospective councillor, he said, he’s looking forward to continuing to work on that from city hall.
Berrel would also like to see the city work with the Association franco-yukonnaise Tourism Department to promote Whitehorse in northern France.
The association has a tourism branch just waiting to partner with the city, he said.
“You don’t have to reinvent wheels,” Berrel commented.
He pointed out it’s often easier for those travelling from northern France to leave from Frankfurt, Germany than from France.
With Condor flying into Whitehorse from Frankfurt all summer, there’s a perfect opportunity to promote the city in northern France.
“That will be great for the city, great for the territory,” he said, noting he would still want the city to promote itself in Germany as well.
With his experience, Berrel said, he’s shown he can work with a wide range of people, and would do so on council as well.
The 62-year-old, who’s married and has two offspring, said he sees serving on council as a chance to give back to the community which has given him so much over the years.
While Berrel gave some thought to running for mayor, he said he opted to run for a councillor position so he can still have the time to be involved with the other community organizations he volunteers with now.