Whitehorse Daily Star

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Ranj Pillai

Housing summit was productive exercise, minister believes

Ranj Pillai, the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corp., calls this week’s housing issues summit a “good start”, but much more work remains to be carried out.

By Tim Giilck on October 7, 2021

Ranj Pillai, the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corp., calls this week’s housing issues summit a “good start”, but much more work remains to be carried out.

The event was held Tuesday and Wednesday at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre.

“The housing summit was an incredible opportunity to speak with key stakeholders on the housing priorities for our community and innovative solutions we can work on together,” he said Wednesday afternoon.

“These conversations have paved the way for strong partnerships and key actions on housing solutions by community leaders and stakeholders.”

Among the more interesting concepts that were discussed is the establishment of a community land trust.

Pillai told the Star today the idea is to identify parcels of land large enough to host multiple housing units all around the Yukon.

The concept is in some ways similar to a co-op, but rather than joint ownership of the property and units, private ownership would be the rule, he said.

Pillai said the most significant success of the summit was the opportunity to gather together representatives from all sectors in the Yukon to discuss potential solutions to the housing crisis.

There were representatives of governments, including First Nations governments, development corporations, First Nation development corporations, private developers, non-profits, and municipalities and communities.

He said some of these people, particularly in the private sector, might not have realized the importance of their expertise and contributions in what Pillai called the “housing ecosystem.

“We had more than 100 leaders together,” he said.

In a news release, Pillai and the government described “how the summit raised awareness about housing complexities and challenges unique to the territory and provided a platform to create new partnerships focused on an increase to the housing supply.

“Acknowledging housing success stories, delegates were asked to present ideas that further enhance the housing continuum with the goal of concluding the event with new partnerships and opportunities.”

The release stated key opportunities include:

• Continued partnerships with First Nations development corporations to increase housing options in communities and in Whitehorse;

• Potential development of the Community Land Trust that would present a new model of affordable home ownership in the Yukon; and

• Yukon First Nations who are exploring models for homeownership on Settlement Land.

The hybrid summit allowed for community housing leaders and advocates across the Yukon to attend in person or virtually, aligning with COVID-19 safe protocols.

“The summit was designed to allow an open exchange of ideas,” the government said.

“Pitch presentations that were made to highlight areas for innovation and development and how to meet those needs.”

Keynote presentations were made by Kaaxnox, Dän nätthe äda Chief Steve Smith of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, the City of Kelowna, B.C., the Rural Development Network and the Klondike Development Organization.

A review will be held in eight months to report on progress on the commitments from the summit and successes.

Comments (16)

Up 4 Down 1

Anie on Oct 12, 2021 at 3:23 pm

BNR - well said. You nailed it.

Up 7 Down 5

TheHammer on Oct 12, 2021 at 11:23 am

Evicting the tenant of the 'Purple House' for no good reason is a brilliant start.

Up 14 Down 1

BnR on Oct 11, 2021 at 4:25 pm

So, another article on The Housing Crisis, great, don’t we all feel better about ourselves now?
And yet, nobody has defined exactly what the crisis is. Ranj ticked most of the boxes in the press release: stakeholders check, partnerships check, etc.
Land trust? That’s a good one.
So what crisis are we dealing with here? Housing for the homeless? That would be government built and run housing, aka council housing if you’re a Brit. Cheap rentals for those working minimum wage jobs? Small fit lots for young families? Capping real estate prices (that’ll be popular)? Creating more country residential for well healed locals or Albertans moving North? There is no single answer to a multi faceted issue.
Even something as seemingly simple as releasing more land is challenging. Where exactly would this land come from? It’s got to be flat, it’s got to be easily accessed and serviced. That limits the available options within the city. The readily developable parcels are almost all settlement land which precludes private ownership. If we start looking outside of the city, most of the developable land has been essentially given away as agricultural parcels, the vast majority of which are growing willows and poplars. Maybe the government should look at expropriating unused agricultural parcels, subdividing the land for more country res parcels. Would make them unpopular with a select few good ol boys who had the foresight to see they could get something for nothing, but would make a lot of other Yukoners ecstatic.
There just isn’t an easy answer.

Up 13 Down 3

not a liberal at all on Oct 11, 2021 at 9:36 am

@Wilf: hate to break it to you, but we are not liberals down voting your comments, we are common sense people who just can't give your have-done-it-all and know-it-all rants a thumb up.

Up 19 Down 2

Snowman on Oct 9, 2021 at 8:44 pm

I'm tired of hearing about the 'housing crisis'. The economy is hot right now so we have skyrocketing property values. That's how capitalism works. In Fort Mac and Grand Prairie they have or had the same problem. Same in Toronto and Vancouver. While the economy in Edmonton and |Calgary has been going down, so has the cost of housing because it's a direct correlation.

If the government finds a way to make housing cheaper while keeping a hot economy, there will be an even larger demand from southerners trying to move here, so any solution will be immediately negated by an increased population boom.
So everyone of every political stripe and shape can keep screeching about "affordability" but there is literally no solution aside from A: Putting a limit on the number of people allowed to move here or B: cooling off the economy. If there were other solutions, Canada's big cities would have figured it out a long time ago.

It sucks, but it's the hard truth. Also, despite the high cost to buy a house, interest rates have never been lower, something else to take into consideration.
These summits and NGOs and all the rest are just burning money while trying to come up with unattainable solutions. Speaking of which, how is that rent cap workin out for ya Whitehorse? Is housing now cheaper and easier to find? ha ha

Up 8 Down 4

Snowball II on Oct 9, 2021 at 10:35 am

He owns a home. People like me can't.

Up 21 Down 0

martin on Oct 8, 2021 at 10:36 pm

Since I remember, there's been a shortage of lots (developed or raw) and that's is because it is a policy of successive governments (left, right and center). I have seen them all making this very same promise and here we are. Who are they kidding with this summit?.
Low income people might as well pack and go where housing might be available.

Up 27 Down 0

YukonMax on Oct 8, 2021 at 7:59 am

"exercise" is the magic word.

Up 50 Down 1

Joe on Oct 7, 2021 at 10:02 pm

Great lunch, nice photo ops, look at me speeches, inexperienced groups grasping at straws...same ole, same ole.

Up 52 Down 1

Josh on Oct 7, 2021 at 7:34 pm

Not hard to see the plan...YTG slows down land development to support First Nation leasehold land development. Winners and losers, you decide which is which.

Up 11 Down 21

Wilf Carter on Oct 7, 2021 at 6:39 pm

Wow - look at the liberals voting on my comment because Ranj does not have a clue about this subject.
CAFN does a great job of managing their housing stock and land needs. They are building at capacity in their community to meet their needs.

Up 65 Down 5

Groucho d'North on Oct 7, 2021 at 3:47 pm

So how was this summit different from the Housing Action Plan creation? The same grass is being chewed once again.

Up 73 Down 4

Max Mack on Oct 7, 2021 at 2:41 pm

It's important to note the people that weren't invited: home owners and small landlords.

This BS exercise was and is entirely about shoveling more money into developers, FN, contractor and select "NGO" pockets. Until government stops treating home ownership as a cash grab for their buddies (oops - I meant "partners"), housing affordability will only continue to worsen.

Up 56 Down 6

Jim on Oct 7, 2021 at 2:35 pm

So the best our government wizards and development corps can come up with is community land trusts aka: leased land. It’s sad that a territory our size cannot make land available and affordable. Unless what Ranj is forgetting to tell us is that there is no more land available except for leasing. With First Nation leases, our tax base is reduced as a major portion of income tax is diverted to which ever traditional territory holds the title. This transfer of taxes results in no services for money sent in. The higher the percentage of leases compared to titles will result in fewer dollars for health, education, roads, etc.
Looks good on paper, but the long term is not so rosy. Who will invest the money to develop these land trusts? As shown in other places, land trust fees to keep it affordable are propped up by donations, development corps or government. If this is done on First Nations land there will be no tax revenue.

Up 12 Down 20

Wilf Carter on Oct 7, 2021 at 2:32 pm

Finally moving in the right direction with a land trust. But whose going to set it up and manage it? Who in Yukon has experience? There are people living here that have a great deal of experience in both of these areas but were not included. Why? Doesn't the program want all knowledge at the table?

Up 57 Down 6

Waffle on Oct 7, 2021 at 2:16 pm

More babblespeak from a Yukon Liberal minister.

This is all a supply issue - the only 'solution' is for more building, for owners and for renters. This means access to the land the government controls and financing, private or public where socially necessary.

This government has access to extraordinary financial resources for the size of our population. They make policy decisions how to spend that money. And this government, for all the waffle, has simply not made enabling land and housing development the priority it needs to be when it comes to real investment.

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