Whitehorse Daily Star

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Mayor Dan Curtis

Council resumes meetings as election looms

As the new year begins, city council is gearing up for the final 10 months or so of its term, with municipal elections across the territory set for Oct. 18.

By Stephanie Waddell on January 8, 2018

As the new year begins, city council is gearing up for the final 10 months or so of its term, with municipal elections across the territory set for Oct. 18.

Mayor Dan Curtis says council is aiming to finish the term strong.

It’s continuing to focus on actions that align with priorities set out in its strategic plan: planning for growth, affordable housing, operational efficiencies and environmental health.

Along with that, Curtis said in an interview last Thursday, he hopes one particular matter that’s been “percolating” for some time will be among the issues to be dealt with – or at least direction taken on before the term ends.

Last fall, more than 600 people added their names to a petition led by the Skate For Life Alliance. It called on the city and territory to work together to transfer the land the only skatepark is on from the territory’s Department of Education to the city.

The petition argues that by securing the land, work could then begin on upgrading the outdated, deteriorated facility that has not seen any major changes since it was built in 1995.

The issue has been under discussion for a number of years.

In 2015, its location was the subject of debate when the current location (just across the Robert Campbell Bridge leading into Riverdale) was being eyed as the site for a new francophone high school.

That could have resulted in a new skatepark built elsewhere in the city.

Since then, though, those plans have been scrapped.

The Yukon Francophone School Board (CSFY) and territorial government have confirmed the proposed location for the new school as between the new F.H. Collins Secondary School and Selkirk Elementary School on Lewes Boulevard.

Last October, council voted in favour of having staff move forward on discussions with the Yukon government about the possibility of the city securing tenure to the skatepark land.

That parcel is currently part of the larger piece of educational reserve, which includes Selkirk Elementary and F.H. Collins.

A number of council members spoke last fall of the need for a rebuilt skatepark.

City staff confirmed that one of the goals of the Parks and Recreation Department is to offer “spontaneous recreation” activities – places where residents can be active – whether it’s sites like the skatepark for skateboarders and BMX riders or trails for walking, running and cycling or playgrounds for kids.

Council members also emphasized, though, that they don’t want the skatepark to be a major burden on taxpayers.

Estimates have pegged a potential rebuild of the park at about $500,000 for construction and between $4,000 and $5,000 annually on maintenance.

City staff have indicated there could be possibilities explored for outside funding sources.

The Skate For Life Alliance has also indicated it has heard of a potential substantial contribution being offered by an anonymous donor who’s been putting funding into a number of recreational facilities across the country.

City staff are scheduled to report back to council in the spring on the progress of its discussions with territorial officials.

Depending on those results, Curtis said, he’d ideally like to see if work can be done with a number of partners, including NGOs in the community, “to make something happen” this summer.

He cited the importance of having the city see to the needs of all its residents.

As the city continues moving into the new year, it’s also anticipated a new city manager will be hired.

Linda Rapp, the city’s director of community and recreation services, has been in the role of acting city manager since last March. That’s when the previous city manager, Christine Smith, was suddenly fired by council without cause.

Council has never publicly explained why it dismissed Smith.

Curtis said he anticipates an announcement on her successor coming “very, very soon.”

At the same time, he praised Rapp’s work, noting she has brought significant expertise to the acting position.

With council’s first meeting of the new year set for this evening, Curtis said he is looking forward to the coming months and the “good things” set to happen in the city in 2018.

He confirmed in 2017 that he will be seeking a third three-year term as mayor in October.

Comments (12)

Up 0 Down 0

CoW voter on Jan 14, 2018 at 2:16 pm

Change is always good. New ideas from new people are needed. Otherwise things become stale and ho-hum.

Up 0 Down 0

CoW voter on Jan 14, 2018 at 2:12 pm

A few changes at City council are definitely needed. I'll put on my thinking cap again.

Up 1 Down 0

Ginger Johnson on Jan 13, 2018 at 10:25 am

BAHHHHH - I'll be looking to vote for "new blood" come next election

This Council is unable to do basic things like painting the crosswalks before July, remove snow and ice from unattended areas of downtown streets , reduce the after hours downtown crime rate, punish the red light runners and crosswalk crashers on "Road Warrior Way" (4th avenue)

BUT HEY - the Mayor is always front and centre to fund some fluffy, special interest tripe

Up 2 Down 2

Alan Boomer on Jan 11, 2018 at 1:31 am

I hope the councillors who made the strongest arguments to protect greenspaces and wildlife habitat during the infilling discussions should run again, they get it and we need them.

Up 7 Down 0

Robert Scott on Jan 10, 2018 at 7:22 pm

I had real hopeful when this council was voted in - not so much anymore. If you look at the tax and spend that continues from the previous council nothing has changed. Spending needs to be controlled to get taxes and service costs down. It's great to have a community plan but things don't need to change all at once. Improvements take time and should not be rushed. If you tackle one large and expensive project, all others are delayed until that one is payed for. Your recent approval to go ahead with your new complex is evidence you love to spend other people's money. I will be looking for some fiscally responsible leaders. I can't afford this crew. Canadians are now paying over 52% of our wages in taxes, let the tax revolt begin.

Up 3 Down 0

ProScience Greenie on Jan 10, 2018 at 2:08 pm

Couldn't pay me enough to live in CoW BnR. Because some of my tax dollars are sent to CoW with much of it wasted I believe I do have a right to comment on that even though I have no vote / say in it all. You are 100% correct that more people should be more involved but just because they are not, does not mean that CoW shouldn't be more frugal and wise with what they do.

OJW is correct, CoW has a real ugly side that should be an embarrassment to all residents and especially civic leaders and senior staff.

Up 2 Down 5

BnR on Jan 9, 2018 at 8:23 pm

Ah the usual criticisms from the usual suspects.
Perhaps we'll see Josey or PSG or June put their names forward and run, because they are oh so qualified and would do a much better job.
You look at the council meetings, and nobody ever shows up, never mind our usual suspects. That's how concerned our citizens are.
Get involved. Beyond the usual vitriol spewed forth in the local papers.

Up 3 Down 0

Josey Wales on Jan 9, 2018 at 1:45 pm

Hey the nobles are back patting each other...how sweet eh?
I have never seen and dealt with a more arrogant and delusional team of trough feeders as the crew we currently have.
Unfortunately I have zero faith in what is left of my community to change their ways. We have been wussified to levels I never thought possible in a free world.
Given the last ten years of civic social engineering, there should be a mob with pitchforks purging the windbags and many many of their lieutenants
Outta our town.
We have been governed NOT represented by civic blowholes for too damn long.

This town is corrupt and filthy to the core as a result of the maaaaany idiots we are over represented with in positions of “bureaucratic powers”
....the machine needs many wrenches tossed in the cogs to slow the inertia a tad.

Up 6 Down 0

Juniper Jackson on Jan 8, 2018 at 4:54 pm

The CoW council has been borrowing a lot of money.... less than 10,000 tax payers here.. 10 months huh? I'll be the first one out, to vote for someone else. I am sick of this council.

Up 6 Down 0

Nile Nukon on Jan 8, 2018 at 3:51 pm

We desperately need new blood in City Council. The whole lot needs to be replaced with possibly the exception of Boyd and Hartland.

Up 6 Down 0

ProScience Greenie on Jan 8, 2018 at 3:40 pm

Next election get rid of the mayor and entire council, all of them hooked on spending like drunken sailors and try a new batch. A group of CoW citizens should also look at putting some kind of recall legislation on the ballot so mayor and council can be held accountable for once.

Up 7 Down 1

Jayne W on Jan 8, 2018 at 2:32 pm

As the election is months away, it would be nice for a few qualified folks step up and run for Mayor, makes for a interesting election, and keeps Mayor Curtis on his toes. Fresh set of eyes and ideas are always good for a City. Possibly Councillor Boyd or Hartland maybe now is the time to run.

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