Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

LISTENING AND LEARNING – About 80 people attended Wednesday evening’s council candidates’ forum at the Gold Rush Inn.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

SPEAKERS GALORE – The 20 candidates (above and below) running for city council in the Oct. 18 election gathered for a forum Wednesday evening at the Gold Rush Inn. At 6:00 this evening, the five people vying for the mayoralty will be at the same location for their forum.

Council candidates state their cases

Housing, affordability, land use, waste diversion, traffic and city taxes and fees.

By Stephanie Waddell on October 4, 2018

Housing, affordability, land use, waste diversion, traffic and city taxes and fees. All were issues that continued to come up throughout the all-candidates’ forum for the 20 prospective city councillors held Wednesday evening.

The Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce hosted the event at the Gold Rush Inn.

About 80 residents turned out to take in what the candidates had to say and, in some cases, approach them afterward to discuss the issues further.

Over the course of the more than two-hour formal portion of the forum, candidates were given a chance to provide opening and closing statements and answer two questions randomly drawn by moderator Tim Kucharuk, of CKRW.

It appeared that all candidates agreed housing and its high cost are major issues.

As Steve Roddick noted, “Housing is on everyone’s mind.”

He went on to note that land availability is part of the puzzle in dealing with the situation. He suggested the city needs to consider long-term development to accommodate the growing population and make better use of land in existing neighbourhoods to provide for more homes.

Meanwhile, David Laxton pointed out the issue of having enough residential lots available to meet demand has been something that has come up again and again over the years.

The city, he said, can work with developers and other governments in making land available.

Laxton also stressed the importance of the upcoming review of the city’s Official Community Plan (OCP), which serves as a guide to planning throughout the city.

“It’s all-encompassing,” he said.

There were also proposals on other areas where housing could be built, with Darrell Hookey highlighting the Long Lake area.

He noted that though the development of lots is typically the work of the territory, the city should “start moving to develop more areas” through planning processes. Long Lake has been talked about for a number of years, Hookey noted.

Scott Etches, meanwhile, pointed to community land trusts – a non-profit created to build affordable housing – as a way to create affordable housing options. Such trusts have been created in B.C., he said.

“It is a proven success,” he argued, after noting Whitehorse doesn’t have to “reinvent the wheel”.

Danny Macdonald reminded the audience the two local First Nations are the largest titled landowner in the city.

“I think the number one priority is partnering with First Nations,” he said, noting First Nations have the legislation in place to do land development in the community.

Incumbent Roslyn Woodcock highlighted the efforts to get Whistle Bend lots on the market and the benefits of densifying existing neighbourhoods.

While many spoke in favour of densifying urban areas, the issue of infill in country residential neighborhoods was not met with the same response.

The city added a number of lots to country residential neighbourhoods, prompting outcry from area residents over the change to the OCP that was required.

O’Shea Jephson argued in that case, “the infill development that took place was reactive” and didn’t have much of an impact on the housing issue in the city.

Woodcock acknowledged too that the city is “in a crunch” to meet current demands.

Those asked about waste in the city stressed the need to keep as much waste as possible out of the landfill.

Asked about committing to the city’s goal of 50 per cent waste diversion, Jim Cahill commented: “It’s not an option.” He said he didn’t want to set a date for that to be reached though, arguing that it should happen “sooner rather than later.”

Kim Lisgo said she would like to see a higher target set for the city in achieving more waste diversion as soon as possible, though she too did not outline a precise date for that to happen.

Recycling was also highlighted as a way to keep waste out of the landfill. Mike Gladish and Cory Adams both noted they are subscribers to the private collection service offered by Whitehorse Blue Bin Recycling.

“I like that we have a private sector (service provider),” Gladish said.

He argued such a service, though, should be city-wide and mandatory, which would bring down the cost. Currently, subscribers pay $20 per month for the weekly collection.

He said he’d like to see the city involve local companies in the effort to give locals the opportunity.

Adams also argued that if more residents used the blue box system, the costs would fall and it would mean less strain on the landfill.

“We will have a problem,” he said of people continuing to throw out waste that can be directed elsewhere like recycling or compost.

The city’s busy roadways were also the subject of a number of questions leading to discussions of not only traffic, but transit, parking and the like.

It was highlighted in one question that came forward that the lack of Sunday and holiday bus service takes its toll on employers looking for staff.

Questioned about potential plans to deal with the situation, incumbent Jocelyn Curteanu noted the reason for the absence of Sunday and holiday service is because it isn’t viable; there just aren’t the number of users on those days to justify running the buses.

Curteanu did note that getting more people using the bus on a regular basis could lead to more service being offered. She suggested that apps that would allow users to track bus locations and pay fares could go a long ways toward that.

She also suggested that while it’s not feasible for the city to offer transit on those days, efforts could be made to “put something” online connecting those looking for rides to work with drivers who might be travelling that way.

Similarly, Eileen Melnychuk argued moving to more user-friendly options – including payment apps – would get more people on the bus.

“I think adopting innovative (ways) would help,” she said.

Incumbents Betty Irwin and Samson Hartland also took a question on the bus system.

They were asked about a recommendation in the recent city transit master plan that would put greater restrictions on parking downtown to encourage bus use.

Hartland said he’s “not sold on the idea” of restricting parking, as that could impact everybody in the community.

He noted it’s important to strike a balance between encouraging transit use while recognizing that parking is also required.

Irwin said that while she supports the overall plan, she would like to pursue other possibilities for the system, including looking at using electric buses.

Laura Cabott also addressed parking, noting that she would like to see a “parkade as something we need to consider.”

She stressed it’s not something she’d necessarily commit to without looking further.

She also suggested efforts could also be made to look at providing places for cyclists to park their bikes safely to encourage more bike use, which could lead to fewer vehicles on the road.

Many candidates stressed the need to handle the city’s finances with care.

Incumbent Dan Boyd said he would continue doing what he’s done over the last three years on council: examining the budget carefully, work on setting a budget that accounts for “reasonable growth” and constantly watch city spending.

“Money does not grow on the backs of taxpayers,” he said.

Questioned about taxes and cost increases, Jan Stick pointed to energy saving initiatives and the use of more efficient vehicles to reduce spending while still providing services.

“I don’t think you can cut services,” said the former councillor, stressing the importance of the services provided by the city to residents.

Meanwhile, Andrew Smith noted that moving many of the city’s operations into the new operations building under construction off of Range Road is a good move for the city toward more efficient spending.

“It gives an opportunity to spend less on energy,” he said.

Smith would also push for the city to use existing infrastructure through efforts to densify in current neighbourhoods to keep costs down.

It’s expected the construction of the new operations building will see the closure of the Municipal Services Building on Fourth Avenue.

Leonard Boniface suggested the building could be turned over to be used by the many non-profit organizations in town. He said there’s a number without office space that are run out of the homes of volunteers.

“I think it would be a good spot (for local groups),” Boniface said.

Candidates were all quick to highlight their experience and commitment to their community in their opening and closing comments.

Comments (11)

Up 0 Down 0

Scott Etches on Oct 11, 2018 at 12:12 am

As communities we can and conform communities by working towards stronger partnerships by being socially responsible. We cannot delegate that responsibilty to a higher office in government. We can build community, They just build institutions.

Up 3 Down 4

They all have what they believe to be the best for the city on Oct 9, 2018 at 10:20 am

But we don't have any workable planning for the Following:
Land development is way over priced and same for housing. That has to be broken down to see where the costly items are and then fix it.
Housing funding is a Federal responsibility and we used to get $10's of millions a year now we $2.4 million per year for housing from the Federal G.
The top things on city residents list as has been told to me is:
Average cost of operations has gone up by 5 to 7% a year, which it did not have to. The cause for that is there is no operating plan in place and we are running all over the map on spending.
We need a future plan for growth but have none. For example, I tried to get the city prepared for the 140 people moving to work at the Whistle Bend center but nothing was done. We need vision for the future.
If Casio mine goes ahead, we will need 550 housing units for the staff or the mine will just fly them in and out. This means very little economic benefits for the Yukon or our city.

Up 14 Down 4

Jim Cleaver on Oct 8, 2018 at 10:47 am

I want to see more from council hopefuls about their ideas how they will deal with the various City departments and improve the efficiency of running the City. As it has been the council has been a rubber stamp for administration. There have been plenty of developers wanting to put rental above their commercial buildings in the Marwell area, but planning has fought that tooth and nail. This would cost the city nothing. Actually make an increase in tax base. Water is on meters, no city garbage pickup, etc. Taxes have to stop increasing every year. Council is quick to tell others to lay-off staff or close for winter if they can’t afford their tax increase. But they refuse to do the same. Actually, raises for everyone and while we’re at it how about a giant building on the hill. We need Councilors to deal with the “meat and potatoes” of running the city. Leave solving world and social issues to YG and Feds. They have the staff and cheque book to deal with this stuff.

Up 8 Down 12

Ivy piper on Oct 5, 2018 at 2:28 pm

Omgawd
Hookey wants to Make 2nd ave and 4 th ave one way streets. Wouldn’t we want to add busses for Sunday’s and holiday Mondays so people can get to places to eat or to activities with their kids? Let’s add more traffic issues to our city. Boo hiss Dude.

Laura Cabott received the only applause at the forum. Yay Laura!

Dave Laxton has done his time wouldn't trust that man with a ten foot pole. I think he only likes the legion anyway.

Danny Macdonald is pretty on the mark. He does his homework. Good for you Dan .

Leonard Boniface WHAT!!!!

Jocelyn and Bettie and Mike well what can I say move on.

Jan and Steve what are u doing! Too ridiculous for me.

Eileen People would likely vote if you weren’t so late all the time. Yes its noticed.

Corey Adams pretty decent but not sure he has the stamina.

The rest? well some of them are too new to politics and haven’t been in the Yukon plus haven’t done their homework. Good effort though.

Scott why the reference to beer do you like the legion too ?

Up 9 Down 9

Henry Wensleydale on Oct 5, 2018 at 1:48 pm

SIGH !
20 candidates and none of them seem interested in improving the day-to-day running of this broken city !

Up 2 Down 8

Ilove Parks on Oct 5, 2018 at 1:26 pm

XYX you make some brilliant points.

I think the city needs a committee of biologists and a few reps from community associations which would comment on development and zoning. This group would bring balance to the need to preserve areas and protect special areas from development. It could ensure we have a wilderness city and it would save people's time because people would likely not have to fight infilling etc.

Up 10 Down 0

Ilove Parks on Oct 5, 2018 at 10:44 am

So true Proscience.

But there is demand for more country residential and the city favors infilling. Be aware that the OCP may be written in a way that allows more infilling and use of green spaces homes which is exactly what you do not want.

Up 7 Down 6

Yukoner on Oct 5, 2018 at 12:06 am

You're reaching. All of you.

Up 9 Down 6

Snowman on Oct 4, 2018 at 8:51 pm

Some quick thoughts...

Roddick is saying let's try and solve our housing issue within current neighbourhoods and better planning there, in other words, infill and no new areas for housing. So definitely not voting for that guy.
Mr.Hookey on the other hand wants to open up Long Lake or other areas. That's the right attitude, he will probably get a vote from me.
I really liked Gladish's thoughts on waste management.
I was pleasantly surprised by Laxton, I figured he would have been a bit more unhinged but he actually made sense. lol
I like that Cabott and Hartland recognize the parking issue and aren't going to solve it by attempting to restrict parking.
Danny Macdonald who I generally like, gave a weird answer by highlighting the importance of working with First Nations. Which is not a bad thing, but the guy ran for the Yukon Party last time and we know that conservatives are generally opposed to First Nations on almost every issue. That answer probably made his base raise an eyebrow,
Betty Irwin did a good job in the past, but I think she needs to retire and just enjoy herself.
Jepson was or is a radio personality, seems like a good guy but probably too new to the territory to stand a chance. Maybe this is a good trial run for him.
Andrew Smith seems like a good guy, a bit quiet but that's not a bad thing. He might be able to provide some cerebral capacity to council.
Dan Boyd needs to go away again, he just votes against everything and pretends that we are all horribly overtaxed despite having one of the lowest rates in the country.
Melnychuk ran for the Liberals last time and probably just wants to get elected to any office possible. Smacks of opportunism, but then again so did Danny Macdonald and Jan Stick.
Boniface just dropped into the race at the last minute, so that kind of seems wishy washy.
Curteanu seems solid for the most part. Though she is oddly anti-marijuana which makes me raise an eyebrow since it is a rather illogical position.

Up 17 Down 2

YXY on Oct 4, 2018 at 5:47 pm

Everyone likes to make all sorts of noise about making lots available, housing etc, but the reality is no one is actually putting forth any real solutions.
Sure the KDFN is a major land holder, but, the land would only be available, even assuming KDFN is interested in partnering, as 100 year leases at best. I know I wouldn't want to build anything on land I didn't own.
Heres a solution for a new Copper ridge sized subdivision; take the land back from the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club. Hold on, don't freak out, I'm only speaking of the flat land immediate North of the McLean lake gravel pits all the way towards Ravens Ridge. This is the flat land immediately across the wet lands from Copper ridge. Check it out on Google Earth. It's essentially big enough for another Copper Ridge/Ingraham/McIntyre village sized residential area. Work with the ski club to develop a new XC ski area, build them a new, improved chalet facility. Quid Pro Quo. If we want more land available near the city centre, were going to have to start thinking outside the box.

Up 15 Down 4

ProScience Greenie on Oct 4, 2018 at 2:55 pm

Non-densified communities raise children that are more in touch with nature and wild spaces something that a 'Wilderness City' should be doing more of.

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