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Coun. Steve Roddick

Housing plight requires fresh thinking: Roddick

The city needs to start thinking outside the box to address the housing crisis Whitehorse is in, says Coun. Steve Roddick.

By Chuck Tobin on July 28, 2021

The city needs to start thinking outside the box to address the housing crisis Whitehorse is in, says Coun. Steve Roddick.

Roddick said last week he’s been talking recently with a lot of people who are affected in different ways about the housing shortage.

“Some posters have been put up around town,” he told his colleagues on council at their July 19 meeting.

“One of them said, ‘I had to put my dog down because I could not find a place that accepts pets.’”

That is just one of the many stories you hear, Roddick said.

He said the posters are being put up to make the point the housing situation is really bad, and it affects a lot of people in different ways.

The situation is reaching a critical point, Roddick said.

He said it’s almost like the city is in some sort housing hunger games.

“This is just not in the municipality’s court,” the councillor said.

“Every government has tools in the tool box that it can and should use, and should be using better.”

The rungs of the housing ladder are becoming out of reach for many people, he said.

“There is a strong feeling that if you are locked out now, you are never going to be able to get in.”

Roddick said many people will not be able to build generational wealth by investing in their homes, just as their parents and grandparents did.

Bidding wars have become standard, and every time somebody bids $30,000 or $40,000 above the next-lowest price, it drags the floor up on the whole housing market, he said.

Roddick said Air B & Bs have cut into the rental market, with home owners choosing greater profits from short-term rentals to visitors instead of renting to full-time tenants.

The number of Air B & Bs peaked at 235 before the pandemic but shrunk to a low of 146, though is creeping back up, he said, noting the number was at 163 in the last three months.

Roddick said economists have determined with every one per cent increase in the number of Air B & Bs, there is a 0.026 per cent increase in the cost of housing and rents.

“It does not seem like a big amount but when you are talking about an average price of $560,000, that pulls everything upwards,” he said. “I think that is something we need to look at more seriously, and time is of the essence.”

Roddick suggested developing regulations to guide short-term rental properties may help the situation.

As well, there is the possibility of bringing more lots to the market through a community land trust committed to affordable housing, he said.

Roddick said, for example, the city could donate lots with conditions attached to groups that are willing to manage housing developments.

If, for instance, an individual were to pay $300,000 to purchase a unit in a multi-unit development, and if that individual wanted to sell, they would have to keep the price at $300,000, plus the cost of living increases and the cost of any improvements, he said.

He said it’s all about maintaining affordability.

Comments (29)

Up 0 Down 0

martin on Aug 3, 2021 at 9:10 pm

@Stephen Burles: I can't understand how 11 opinions (so far) could disagree with your opinion; but I guess they haven't lived your experiences and they're used to cheap (almost free) loans.

Up 1 Down 0

Nathan Living on Aug 3, 2021 at 7:04 pm

Steve Roddick is showing leadership and I think the city should do more to address housing issues.

Whitehorse has many horrible issues which council needs to work on. Many councilors offer little based on their recent performance and they rate a fail in my mind.
It's time to get some new people on council and time to spend less while making Whitehorse the place it used to be.

Up 9 Down 4

TheHammer on Aug 3, 2021 at 2:38 pm

We need to know the Government's plans and projections for the future population size of Yukon, and their ambitions for provincehood. We are dealing with ruthless opportunists motivated by power and ambition. Consider the traffic congestion coming our way, the line ups at the grocery store and the impact on Yukon's eco system and social relations with First Nations.

Up 7 Down 4

CO on Aug 2, 2021 at 7:23 pm


I don’t care if they had to hired 500 people for WB place. Those beds for extended care were in dire need at the time. YG actually scaled back the project when the Libs cut the bed count in half. There is standing space there to bolt on the North wing and that will happen as our population grows and ages.

The failure isn’t with a growing work force or economy, the failure is to provide housing options at the middle and lower ends on the buyers/renters market. We have literally endless land inside city limits the idiots in power need to come up with a plan to get that on the market…..starting yesterday.

Up 23 Down 0

Ice cold on Aug 2, 2021 at 5:43 pm

The Roddick emerges from its cave semi annually waving its arms and screeching about subjects it has no jurisdiction over. One day the Roddick hopes to leave its cave and migrate to territorial politics.

Up 16 Down 1

BnR on Aug 2, 2021 at 4:20 pm

The gov had to hire over 180 new employees from outside just to staff the Whistle Bend X care. That’s just for that facility. Add in all the other new hires for the gov plus everyone else, and that’s been a huge influx of new residents in the last couple of years. This problem has been years in the making with various different YG governments kicking the can down the road. Not to worry though, when, not if, the Fed cash horse gets throttled back, housing prices will start coming down.

Up 22 Down 0

I wouldn't ever want to be a landlord... on Aug 2, 2021 at 1:53 pm

Not the COW's business really, but I might suggest that giving landlords some flexibility when it comes to dealing with terrible tenants might curb the housing crisis some. I have no actual data to back it up, all anecdotal, but I've spoken to dozens, if not hundreds of people over the last several years, some of whom already had a built suite in their house who have said they would never rent out the extra space because finding good renters can be hard. And then followed up with horror stories about renters who have completely trashed their rental, holes in walls, dog/cat urine and feces staining floors, and in some cases destroyed so bad they needed to be gutted and rebuilt. And their only recourse is, well, nothing. You can collect a damage deposit beforehand, but let's be honest, I'm sure we all know of at least one or two people who could easily do a months rent worth of damage in a weekend or less... And trying to evict a bad tenant? Good luck with that...

Up 22 Down 7

Ricky Maurice on Aug 1, 2021 at 4:47 pm

10 year Government hiring freeze + 33% personnel cut to every department

Multiple New Subdivisions with:
1+ acre lots
No Subdividing

Land Lottery preference in this order:
Yukon Born Residents
20+ Year Yukon Residents
10+ Year Yukon Residents
everyone else

Outside investors Limited to one residential property.
Private home owners limited to 2 Residential properties + one cabin.

Violations to circumvent ownership rules result in immediate foreclosure, proceeds of which go to lowering property taxes for the given community.

Problem solved

Up 42 Down 11

Stephen Burles on Aug 1, 2021 at 9:19 am

Home ownership involves choices and making it a priority. Those of us older privileged people made significant sacrifices to own homes. Back in the day many people were dedicating most of their income to home ownership. Having lived through 18% mortgage rates it was a real test of frugality. Lifestyle was not where it is today. Travel was rare as was eating out etc. While prices now are shocking. Home ownership has always required discipline and financial management. You can't have it all. Home ownership has always been a good investment and that investment like most others involves opportunity costs.

Up 36 Down 4

Bla Bla Bla on Jul 30, 2021 at 9:39 am

Hear's what I've heard from the Yukon Government and City Council regarding the housing crisis over the last five years:

"Bla bla bla bla bla."
Lots of talk. No action.

Up 40 Down 4

Wake up on Jul 29, 2021 at 9:08 pm

@Bingo: If CoW doesn't want mobile homes Subdivisions, then YTG should start such a Subdiv just outside City Limits (Carcross Cut-Off, North of Takhini Bidge, anywhere up the Alaska Hwy?), but YTG doesn't care for the low earners either. Sad to say, but there is lots of classism in this territory.

Up 51 Down 2

Bingo on Jul 29, 2021 at 3:42 pm

Along the lines of Nathan....WHY is there no vision for the COW to allow mobiles on titled property similar to Arkell. This would go so far for the many young Yukoners and the like who are looking to try and get into the housing market. It is absurd that there is nothing slated in Whistle Bend for such homes. 1000 Sq foot all compliant homes for 350'ish I guess makes too much sense to comprehend.

Up 15 Down 12

sr on Jul 29, 2021 at 12:47 pm

All People: Do whatever you want and can to provide housing and forget about the rules. I'd love to see bylaw show up and shut you down. If the government won't or can't do it, just do what you can to help out.

What do they call that? Peaceful protest or something. Go ahead and take me to court and try to throw people out of their homes because my suite is not 'legal'! The only way things seem to change is by the people taking things into their own hands.

Up 20 Down 14

Supply and demand principle has limits on Jul 29, 2021 at 12:45 pm

Why criticize him for wanting to start a discussion, and possibly try something new (for here that is - what he suggested is in place elsewhere). We're in this situation when 'market price' rather than 'development cost' became the foundation for pricing lots. But that horse is out of the barn. People are turning down jobs here because of housing costs - what happens when the bottom drops out, people walk away from their mortgages, and landlords can't find tenants? The price for housing here isn't sustainable, and when there's a crash, it'll be a big one

Up 36 Down 13

Crunch on Jul 29, 2021 at 10:55 am

You can give this guy an E for effort but there is no clue here. All the electorate needs is another grandstanding politician. Just another liberal taking orders from the orchestrated hiearchy praying on the uniformed ignorant voter.

Up 46 Down 10

yukongirl on Jul 29, 2021 at 9:04 am

All government employees do not make a six figure salary. I know that I make well below that. My husband makes more than double my income working in the mining industry. We cannot afford to buy a home in Whitehorse. We could feasibly place a six figure down payment but unless we want to live in a 40 year old trailer, the mortgage payments would be ridiculously high and last for another 20 plus years. He has coworkers that want to move north and bring their families. They can’t afford the housing market either. Those are healthy incomes that could be paying taxes here but aren’t. This issue does not just impact lower income earners. It’s heavily impacting the middle class as well.

Professionals working at the hospital are renting rooms and splitting mortgage costs because they can’t afford to buy on their own. That’s okay when you’re starting out on your own but what’s going to happen when they want to start families? Kiss them goodbye as they move somewhere else.

Yukon’s housing crisis is broader than is being recognized by most people. More land needs to be freed up within 50 km of Whitehorse and within the city limits. Then people will have some freedom of choice when it comes to renting or building or buying.

Up 25 Down 17

DL on Jul 29, 2021 at 12:26 am

Make land available for affordable co-housing projects.
Launch modular homes industry in the Yukon. These should be transportable so they can be redeployed where the need is.

Up 60 Down 5

Jim on Jul 28, 2021 at 10:33 pm

Steve Roddick doesn’t seem to realize he is a municipal city councillor. His job is to make sure our road are safe and maintained, water and sewer keep running, garbage gets picked up. He wasted months pushing for the city to declare a climate emergency. Now that they did, what’s changed? Now he thinks it’s the city’s job to solve the housing crisis. They have no money in their budgets for housing. It’s not their job. If they want they can fudge tax rebates as incentives or here’s a novel thought. Sell lots for the cost of development, not market value. That would save people a lot more that the .026% that he’s all worked up about with the Air B&Bs. Most of his ideas are on the deep end of socialism. Maybe if he gets the boot during the next election, he can join Kate White and the NDP.

Up 40 Down 7

Salt on Jul 28, 2021 at 9:31 pm

Another diversionary gesture towards “doing something”. Yes, surely it’s the Airbnb’s fault, not the government who has a monopoly on land development, regulation, government bloat and immigration. It’s so blindingly obvious. Runaway housing inflation was not the goal, but no color of government ever really wanted to stop it. Still don’t. Roddick, being the true statist that he is, is just proposing further government control. His land proposal should just adopt WEF’s dystopian slogan, “You’ll own nothing and be happy.”

Up 37 Down 5

Nathan Living on Jul 28, 2021 at 6:32 pm

We need to provide serviced lots that allow trailers and tiny homes and generous building schedules.
We need to have a graduated program that allows people to live and build equity in their homes that is viable for lower income families.

Up 34 Down 16

Bud McGee on Jul 28, 2021 at 6:31 pm

It's that time again when councillors think they need to provide virtue-signalling lip service to the housing issue for re-election purposes. Whitehorse doesn't have it nearly as bad as other cities in Canada. If you decide to have a pet, then don't whine if nobody wants to rent to you. There's lots of housing options for clean and well-behaved people that have jobs ... but those aren't the NDP's voters.

Up 30 Down 7

Yukoner1 on Jul 28, 2021 at 5:52 pm

"If, for instance, an individual were to pay $300,000 to purchase a unit in a multi-unit development, and if that individual wanted to sell, they would have to keep the price at $300,000, plus the cost of living increases and the cost of any improvements, he said."

I'd like to purchase that Marsh Lake property which was sold for $34,000 in 1981. I think that conforms to what he's suggesting.
*insert eye rolling here*

Up 25 Down 10

Family is important on Jul 28, 2021 at 5:36 pm

It's important that families protect one another and are there for one another. One of things that helps that happen is having affordable housing. I just want a house that I can raise my three kids in and I don't have to pay $500,000.00. Some of us don't make those government salaries. What's the top paid COW worker these days? $90.00 a hour? Maybe Roddick should learn about taking care of family.

Up 34 Down 9

TheHammer on Jul 28, 2021 at 5:15 pm

The over population plight is what needs to be addressed. And the massive bureaucracy that is starting to resemble pre-revolution Russia.

Up 46 Down 33

bonanzajoe on Jul 28, 2021 at 4:53 pm

Drop the prices significantly so non government workers can afford them. Simple. Maybe it's time to squat. Find a place out in the bush and build a cabin, like in the old days. The socialist government and the KGB can tear down one squatters cabin at a time, try tearing down a thousand.

Up 82 Down 23

Thomas Brewer on Jul 28, 2021 at 4:39 pm

How about working on supply and letting landlords manage their own affairs?

Up 88 Down 34

Joe on Jul 28, 2021 at 4:11 pm

Why does the paper even give this guy any press time. Has no idea what he’s talking about. Do your job, deal with municipal affairs, lower taxes, reduce spending. There is no housing crisis, we have a strong housing market and the private sector is responding. If council wants to help lower housing costs start reducing regulations - not adding new ones every second day. Try completing a development permit to start and you'll see why housing prices keep going up.

Up 72 Down 16

Please vote for someone else than yourself on Jul 28, 2021 at 3:39 pm

It's such a superficial, rose coloured, idiotic, interpretation of a complex problem. His answer is great for an elementary class but clearly he has never worked or has no investment in the market.

Up 82 Down 9

Portia Manning on Jul 28, 2021 at 3:16 pm

“One of them said, ‘I had to put my dog down because I could not find a place that accepts pets.’”
- How about surrendering the dog to the Humane Society instead? -

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