Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

STATING THEIR POSITIONS – Four of the five mayoral candidates attended Thursday evening’s forum. From left to right are Wilf Carter, incumbent Dan Curtis, Colin LaForme and Rick Karp. The event drew about 50 members of the public.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

STUDYING THE OPTIONS – Residents listen to four of the five mayoral candidates at Thursday evening’s pre-election forum.

Candidates espouse ideas on housing, traffic

The city’s housing crisis continued to take centre stage at the Gold Rush Inn on Thursday evening as residents gathered for the second Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce all-candidates’ forum.

By Stephanie Waddell on October 5, 2018

The city’s housing crisis continued to take centre stage at the Gold Rush Inn on Thursday evening as residents gathered for the second Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce all-candidates’ forum.

It followed Wednesday’s event, which featured all 20 of the prospective councillors.

Thursday’s event was a chance for the five mayoral candidates to address residents.

Candidate Kelly Suits did not show up. That left incumbent Mayor Dan Curtis along with challengers Wilf Carter, Rick Karp and Colin LaForme to address the crowd of about 50.

Issues like parking, transit and relationships with other governments, including the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council, were raised.

Much of the discussion, however, focused on land use and the housing crunch the city is under.

LaForme was quick to highlight his goal to “stop the sprawl, go tall” with buildings in Whitehorse by changing bylaws to allow for increased height limits in the downtown area.

He pointed out that at current costs, homeownership is unattainable for most families, including those with two working adults.

The latest territorial government figures show the average price for a single-family home in Whitehorse was $461,900.

The city doesn’t have a huge role in development, LaForme noted. However, he advocated changing bylaws to allow for more homes in the downtown area and for a wider variety of housing types (community housing, tiny homes, for example) to expand the housing stock and options available to residents.

He also pointed out that having more residents in the city’s core or on major transit routes could lessen the traffic woes faced by the city and get more people taking the bus.

While LaForme focused on changing height limits to allow for greater density downtown, Karp put forward a particular areas where development could happen.

The site at Fifth Avenue and Rogers Street could provide about 350 housing units, he said, also noting that funding to fix up existing apartments should be made available.

Karp also suggested the possibility of looking at a joint venture to open up land near Long Lake.

The area would have space for 1,500 to 2,000 residents, he said. Through the joint venture, private contractors could be responsible for adding a bridge to the area – allowing for a second public vehicle access across the Yukon River.

Curtis highlighted the efforts currently underway to bring more lots online.

Those include the $1-million grant recently provided to the Challenge Disability Resource Group as it moves forward with its Cornerstone development near the top of Main Street.

It will feature 46 affordable and supportive housing units along with seven units on the top floor to be sold at market value.

Curtis also highlighted continued work in Whistle Bend. He acknowledging the need to look beyond that area for future development and the increase in permits issued for new buildings that will provide housing in the city.

Carter argued the city “has to be ready for the future,” and that there should be 200 lots available.

“The housing market is in a meltdown,” he said, after stating he would want to look at housing in the city and break down the data to solve the issue.

He also suggested federal funding could be available for housing initiatives. He argued the city should look at partnering with the federal and territorial governments to make the land the Municipal Services Building sit on available for housing after its planned closure.

Each candidate had a different approach to the housing issue. Each, however, agreed that the area described as Porter Creek D in the McIntyre Creek area should be left alone from development.

The mood of the meeting became more serious as one member of the audience tearfully asked how the candidates viewed the city’s most vulnerable residents, with Curtis getting up from his seat to give her a hug.

Karp spoke of an effort in Yellowknife that provides the community’s most vulnerable with a place to go – a “wet-house”, as he called it – that provides programming and help to those in need.

LaForme spoke of the need to come together to help one another.

Curtis highlighted efforts underway following the vulnerable people’s conference last year and the need to treat everyone with respect.

Carter argued the territorial and federal governments have to put more money into efforts to help.

There did not appear to be support from any of the candidates for the city’s bylaw department to use drones as part of its work on city trails, a suggestion that came out of a bylaw review.

As Curtis noted, it was one of many ideas in the report, with others more likely to be considered.

Others issues around parking saw arguments in favour of a modernized parking system that could take payment by credit/debit card or app.

The candidates also spoke of the importance of reconciliation with area First Nations and the need to work with governments on a variety of issues.

The four candidates cited their experience and commitment to improve their community, also stressing they want to be part of a team working toward a better city.

Karp ran in the 2012 election, while Carter was a candidate in the 2015 vote. Curtis is seeking a third term.

Voters go to the polls Oct. 18.

See related photo and letters.

Comments (28)

Up 2 Down 0

Scott Etches on Oct 12, 2018 at 3:04 pm

I appreciate that the candidates have concerns about affordable housing issues in Whitehorse but am adamant that this issue has been addressed by many communities before with successful conclusion. For over a hundred years Vienna has approached this issue with spectacular success. Currently Vienna is comprised with a total of 60% non-market housing. Vancouver is now starting the build of a thousand new housing units geared towards family incomes of 30 to 80 thousand a year with the Land Trust. Land Trusts are not a new idea but a proven concept. Why put a tax sale property on auction for a fraction of the cost when we need to offer citizens affordable options. There are solutions and have been proven. As candidates I have to ask if we are concerned about our community or simply real estate agents.

Up 1 Down 1

Max Mack on Oct 11, 2018 at 10:37 pm

Densification downtown will only lead to higher housing costs downtown, not less. Look at any city that has followed the densification mantra. Also, parking will become more scarce, traffic will become more dense, services will experience higher demand, etc.

Whitehorse and all other communities combined are but a pin-prick on the map. Want to make housing affordable? Make more land available and lower the ridiculous building standards.

As for traffic woes, read my first paragraph. Also, stop building schools in Riverdale. This is a recipe for traffic congestion as thousands of cars make their way to and from Riverdale - through the downtown core and the main arteries - up to 4x a day.

Up 2 Down 2

My Opinion on Oct 11, 2018 at 9:18 pm

Rick Carp is right. That land over there is slated for Whitehorse development. There is no more on this side of the river. Go get yourself some maps and overlay, Parks Lands, KDFN Lands, Tann Lands, CTFN Lands and you will see that there just isn't any. Whitehorse Copper has a lot of space but they will never use that.

As for private development building infrastructure, that is completely how it works in the real world. Go to Edmonton or Calgary and you will see these huge developments that the entire infrastructure, Water, Sewer, Roads, Underground Power and everything else like ponds and parks, in some cases Golf Courses are built by the developers. The land is sold cheap and they pay for everything and the City sits back and collects the taxes for the next hundred years or so. Most effective way.

Rick Carp you have my Vote.

Up 2 Down 3

Hank on Oct 11, 2018 at 5:51 pm

I love Wilf's comments and I like that he draws attention to specific issues. I will vote for him just because I can.

Up 9 Down 7

Politico on Oct 11, 2018 at 3:32 pm

I love that Karp is espousing land on long lake to ease the housing crises. One these are country residential lots, nothing for most of us just Karp's rich business funds. What about the price of the bridge and all the new road construction. That money could build a lot of low cost housing. And if you do throw up that housing and build a new road and bridge, where are you going to put everyone once they get downtown.

Up 11 Down 1

Charlie's aunt on Oct 11, 2018 at 3:25 pm

OK I have a new handle, previously went by Charles but another Charles has been posting so I am now his Aunt.
N of 60, loved your Irwin comment. Just told a friend last week that if Irwin were running I would probably vote for him, at least we would be entertained & CoW could probably sell tickets to their meetings! Wilf, I don't know you & you may mean well, but all your are doing is shooting your toes off by constantly blowing your own trumpet. That attitude will not win you votes.

Up 14 Down 4

north_of_60 on Oct 10, 2018 at 1:48 pm

WC isn't actually campaigning for Mayor, but rather for the Irwin Armstrong Award for perennial mayor hopeful. Armstrong was far more colorful.

Up 18 Down 3

Hugh Mungus on Oct 10, 2018 at 1:15 pm

Let's hope after next week we never again hear from Wilf Carter and his endless, unsubstantiated resume and rambling incoherence.

Up 6 Down 2

ProScience Greenie on Oct 10, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Martin - correct that more land should be freed up but the priority should not be giving that land to private developers, it should be giving the land to private individuals to build a home as they see fit with or without the help of private contractors.

You are also correct that there are so many in gov that know only how to milk the gravy train but what is also true is that the vast majority of businesses are just as adept and addicted to feeding off the same gravy train. Corporate welfare dependency is everywhere in this territory especially in CoW. Would like to see all of gov. business, NGO greatly reduced.

Up 19 Down 3

Ginger Johnson on Oct 10, 2018 at 9:11 am


Wilf Carter is actually criticizing some other candidate's resume ?

Up 22 Down 2

Allan Foster on Oct 9, 2018 at 10:11 pm

When is Wilf Carter going to claim that he invented insulin and
has walked on the moon ?

Up 21 Down 1

Question for mayor and council on Oct 9, 2018 at 6:25 pm

Why is there never any talk of another Arkell subdivision? Privately owned lots where people can build a house or place a trailer. New trailers can meet the building codes for efficiency without breaking the bank. Lot sizes remain small for increased density within neighbourhoods. Lots would need to be cheaper as the current prices are ridiculous. It allows for more security for trailer owners who don't want pad fees to increase at a whim.

Up 13 Down 0

Martin on Oct 9, 2018 at 5:33 pm

To Groucho d'North: the problem we have is that our governments refuse to free up land and let the private sector be land developers. The gov way of doing business is very, very, very expensive. Just look at the mess they did with TWO contractors in Whistle Bend! How many times YG is taken to court because of poor management from HPW?. Why YTG doesn't try just once? Free up land and you'll see results.

Up 12 Down 2

Martin on Oct 9, 2018 at 5:24 pm

"having worked in Federal, Yukon, First Nations and Municipal govt's. "? .... and you're proud of it? I wouldn't vote for such a person even if they paid me. At least RK made his money in the private sector; not out of taxpayers's money. Where have the likes of Branigan gone, etc? Seems to me that workers for the Feds, YTG, CoW and FN spend their time getting trained on how to keep on milking the taxpayers.

Up 29 Down 3

As a landlord on Oct 9, 2018 at 2:29 pm

As a landlord here in Whitehorse, I can tell you there is a serious shortage of housing - and I'm lucky to be on the fortunate side of that issue. When I have an opening in one of my rentals, I get at least 30 applicants each time. That is without a long-term ad running in the paper. I like the kind I can take down as soon as it's rented. 20 of the 30 applicants BEG me to pick them for this or that reason, because they've been looking forEVER, yada, yada, yada. My units have never been vacant for more than one week since I became a landlord about 15 years ago. People in this town are desperate for housing and anyone who thinks otherwise should think again.

Wilf, nothing more irritating than someone who has done everything, knows everything about everything and runs his opponents down in a public forum. That last part is just bad taste. I would never vote for you just based on your tactics - well no, actually, it's your knowing everything about everything that is really the most irritating. How is it possible for you to have 250 years of experience? With all that experience, are you able to get a job? Sounds like you've worked everywhere, with everyone, done everything... but I don't get the sense you have a job. Whyyyy not? Geez, I wonder.
Juniper, you forgot to add Carter to your list! lol

Up 4 Down 8

It is not attack but the truth on Oct 9, 2018 at 12:37 pm

I cut through the crap and speak with experience and knowledge on a subject I know. When I hear BS and if it influences voters then I call it not true. City is in a mess and most people see it.

Up 12 Down 6

Groucho d'North on Oct 8, 2018 at 8:59 pm

We don't have an affordable housing problem, we have an affordable mortgage problem.

Up 33 Down 5

Ilove Parks on Oct 8, 2018 at 12:13 pm

Wilf Carter may have too many comments here and it's not cool to have personal attacks.

Up 34 Down 5

Joe on Oct 7, 2018 at 4:52 pm

So tiring to hear all the wanna be experts talk about housing. First off, Whitehorse's housing is in sync with the rest of the countries' housing markets, with a few exceptions of course but overall no big differences. Some areas have lower housing costs - others higher. Fact is we don't have a housing crisis- we have a social crisis. Too many people wanting the same things that the majority of people have to work for without actually working to get it. Everyone agrees there is a segment of our population that needs support and that's not a problem, it's the opportunistic crowd we have problems with. That number keeps growing just ask the paid survey bunch at anti poverty coalition.

Up 9 Down 32

Wilf Carter on Oct 7, 2018 at 10:30 am

Curtis does not have clue how to set up and operate a proper waste management for city. We need a grinder to grind up all the plastic, fridges, stoves and other metal into small pieces. This would cut city handling cost on metal by at least 35%.
Put the material in containers and make a deal with a steel company that uses this material as feed stock for their operations.
On the east coast I helped an individual build a plastic lumber plant using used plastic which we have lots of. As a matter of fact, I see that the city is using plastic lumber on park seats in the downtown area. Where did they get that from I wonder?

Up 6 Down 31

Wilf Carter on Oct 7, 2018 at 10:03 am

Curtis referred to working with KDFN a lot of times and talked a lot of about chief Bill. He stated that no other mayors had met chiefs of KCFN only once before. Folks that is not true. I know mayors of Whitehorse who have met with Chiefs of KDFN on a number of subjects like moving the village from down town up to where it is at now. I know another who talked to KDFN on land claims, I know another who talked about services for their village. How do I know? Because of my experience working with First Nations they asked me to sit in on the talks. I have worked for and with all 14 First Nations in the Yukon over the last 32 years on many important things they wanted done. I know a lot of past and present chiefs in the Yukon and they are great people working hard for their people.

Up 5 Down 35

Wilf Carter on Oct 7, 2018 at 9:54 am

OK residents of Whitehorse lets get the real facts:
Karp has no experience in directing governments of any sort.
Karp talked about managing city projects which is not correct at all and this demonstrates that he does not understand how government is supposed to work.
One person said I am irritating. Yes I am, but I am the only mayor candidate that has real experience in the direction of government having worked in Federal, Yukon, First Nations and Municipal gov'ts. The reason I am irritating is because I know what I am talking about and Karp does not as he has shown.
Then you have Curtis who does not have a clue what he is talking about, let's look at Curtis comments.
> Curtis stated that the City has the largest funding received from the Federal Govt for infrastructure in history, which is just not true at all.
Meaning of public infrastructure is any money contributed by all four levels of gov't to support public needs including housing, land, hospitals, schools, and senior centers. The $146 mil needed center is the largest infrastructure invested in the City of Whitehorse.
$72 million into the hospital expansion, over $150 million in housing and land development by the last Federal and Yukon Governments into Whitehorse infrastructure. None we get $2.4 million in housing for all.
The action by the Federal and Yukon Government has caused housing melt down in Whitehorse.
I have tried for several years to get this mayor moving on housing for the staff of the new center with 140 employees
Karp at the Whitehorse chamber talked but took no action and let the city housing market go into a melt down.
All this shows Karp and Curtis have no vision or experience to direct our city into the future or they would have done something about it.

Up 4 Down 21

I'll ask again - why not drones? on Oct 6, 2018 at 12:48 pm

I see some thumbs down on my previous question, so I'll ask why people are opposed to using drones to assist with trail management. It's being used and trialed all over the world, as a method of helping to patrol remote areas. I'm curious as to what the resistance to the idea might be.

Up 17 Down 24

Wilf Carter on Oct 6, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Folks Curtis put out there some fake facts at the mayors met the public event.
When I stated that fourth and second avenues could be made one ways he said it would not work.
What experience does Curtis have traffic flows? None!
I have people who are experts in this field tell me it would work very well for 4th and 2nd avenues as one ways. Here the reason why:
> It would be much safer for traffic flow.
> It would enable traffic flow go much, much more effectively.
> Police, fire, health care auto's could flow much better.
> It would be much safer for people walking and riding bikes.
Mr Curtis does not get it at all but has to comment before knowing the real facts.
Curtis talks about housing in downtown and points to the great work done. Here's the truth on downtown housing:
> Curtis claims success for what the last Yukon Government did in investing for housing in downtown, while he stated the last Yukon Government did not do enough investing in the downtown area. The last government spent over $40 million in downtown on housing for senior, disabled, women shelter, Salvation army building, women's shelter, etc. and this liberal mayor tries to take credit for it.

Up 22 Down 19

Juniper Jackson on Oct 6, 2018 at 10:24 am

I wouldn't vote Curtis again if he were running against Mickey Mouse... who IS Kelly Suites? Mr. Carter has been quite active in the forums and FB, I'm sorry Mr. Carter, but you are so irritating... Rick Karp certainly has some background..but I didn't like the way he promoted local issues when he was running the Chamber..I am afraid he'd replace all City workers with TFWs and nominee's...just a little afraid of Karp... Colin LaForme, haven't seen much on this gentleman.. So.. haven't made up my mind.. beyond no Karp and no Curtis.

Up 8 Down 15

BnR on Oct 6, 2018 at 9:02 am

"The area would have space for 1,500 to 2,000 residents, he said. Through the joint venture, private contractors could be responsible for adding a bridge to the area – allowing for a second public vehicle access across the Yukon River."
This is the kind of "idea" you get from someone with zero experience in government. Ok, sure he's run a franchise, but come on Rick. The private sector would be responsible for the bridge? And how do they see a return on their say 25 million dollar investment? Because a bridge is going to cost at least that much. It will be a toll bridge.
1000-2000 lots? On First Nations A land? Then those are going to be leases. And I'm not so sure that the long lake area is the answer, because on bad days, you can smell the sewage lagoons in Whistle Bend, and the area north of long lake suitable for a major residential area is right by the sewage lagoons. That's just asking for law suits down the road.
Are we serious about increasing lot capacity closer to downtown?
I believe somebody in another comment spoke of annexing some of the ski club trails near Copper Ridge. Here's another possibility; relocate the airport. Yeah, it would be a huge undertaking and expensive, but, that's prime residential land. What about along the copper haul road? There is a lot of flat land along it.

Up 30 Down 14

Buck Donahue on Oct 6, 2018 at 1:42 am

I thought Rick Karp was the most the most effective candidate at the forum. Curtis seemed really angry and defensive. When he first ran in 2012, Curtis was positive and youthful. Now he just seems old, bitter, and angry.

Up 4 Down 34

Why not drones? on Oct 5, 2018 at 5:25 pm

I'm not sure why there wouldn't at least be a trial. If nothing else, it might make dog owners think twice before letting dogs off leash, and not picking up their poop. People tend to behave better if they think someone might be watching, or that there might be consequences for the bad behaviour.

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