Photo by Whitehorse Star
Photo by Whitehorse Star
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.
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