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THE POTENTIAL FUTURE – This is how the territory’s electoral ridings would be redrawn if the Yukon Electoral District Boundaries Commission’s recommendations are accepted. Map courtesy Yukon Electoral District Boundaries Commission

Major alterations proposed for electoral map

The Yukon Electoral District Boundaries Commission tabled an interim report Monday that suggests major changes to the boundaries of seven electoral districts.

By Taylor Blewett on November 21, 2017

The Yukon Electoral District Boundaries Commission tabled an interim report Monday that suggests major changes to the boundaries of seven electoral districts.

“Concerns regarding the existing electoral district of Pelly-Nisutlin” have prompted the independent commission to propose the dissolution and restructuring of the current districts of Mayo-Tatchun, Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes, Pelly-Nisutlin, and Watson Lake into four new electoral districts.

The commission held a public and stakeholder consultation period from June to Oct. 1 in which it called for written submissions as mandated by the Elections Act.

The seven submissions received during that period were posted on the commission’s consultation website.

One group of significant proposed alterations affecting Whitehorse is a direct response to what the commission calls “unprecedented growth in the Whistle Bend community,” as well as development in Porter Creek.

The district of Whistle Bend would be created and the district of Porter Creek Centre would dissolve. The Porter Creek North and Porter Creek South district boundaries would be adjusted to accommodate the change.

While the current elector population in the proposed Whistle Bend constituency sits at 357, this is projected to rise to more than 2,100 by 2026, according to the commission.

Meanwhile last June, Faro resident Keith Austin wrote the commission asking that Faro be moved to a separate riding from Teslin, as he doesn’t feel the two communities have a lot in common.

“They seem to be the overriding part of the riding,” he wrote of Teslin. (Faro had its own riding during the 1970s to ’90s heydeys of its mammoth lead-zinc mine, which once employed several hundred people.)

Last July, Faro Mayor Jack Bowers wrote to the commission on behalf of town council, the Ross River Dena Council, the Teslin Tlingit Council and the Village of Teslin council, asking for Pelly-Nisutlin to be split into two separate constituencies.

“The new ridings should represent those communities whom have much in common, both geographically and culturally,” Bowers wrote.

He also mentioned the challenges the current Pelly-Nisutlin MLA, the Yukon Party’s Stacey Hassard, faces in trying to reach all the communities in his riding.

“Having our MLA living in or near our community would make it possible for Faroites to enjoy the privilege of their company more often, as most Yukon riding residents do,” Bowers stated.

He also went on to mention that “this letter in no way is meant to reflect negatively on Mr. Hassard’s efforts to represent us, but focuses on the geographical and cultural barriers separating our communities.”

In September, Chief Richard Sidney of the Teslin Tlingit Council and Teslin Mayor Clara Jules wrote to the commission. They suggested new boundaries that recognize there are “few cultural or historical connections” between Teslin and the Faro/Ross River area.

Sidney and Jules suggested that Teslin would more appropriately be grouped with Carcross and Tagish.

Meanwhile, Ross River and Watson Lake are “more aligned culturally and politically” as part of the Kaska Nation, Sidney and Jules noted.

The commission appears to have incorporated all of these suggestions in its proposed transformation of the Pelly-Nisutlin area into three new electoral districts.

One of the new districts would be Carcross-Tagish-Teslin.

Created from the southern portions of the Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes and Pelly-Nisutlin districts, it would include Carcross, Tagish, Teslin and Johnsons Crossing.

“The proposed electoral district combines communities that share similar characteristics and elector populations, and respects the commonalities of members of the Teslin Tlingit Council and the Carcross/Tagish First Nations,” the interim report reads.

The second riding, Mayo-Carmacks-Faro, would see Faro and Little Salmon join the communities currently encompassed in the Mayo-Tatchun district: Carmacks, Elsa, Keno Hill, Mayo, Pelly Crossing and Stewart Crossing.

The report explains that “this change combines the community of Faro with others that share a common transportation corridor and history of economic dependence on mining activity.”

The third new district proposed is Watson Lake-Ross River.

It would replace and extend the current district of Watson Lake, reflecting “the historic connection between the communities of Watson Lake and Ross River, as well as the relationships amongst the Kaska people.” It would include Rancheria, Swift River and Upper Liard.

The proposed changes in the Pelly-Nisutlin area would also see the adjacent Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes district become the Mount Lorne-Marsh Lake district. It would no longer include Carcross, Tagish or Jake’s Corner.

“This change will establish the electoral district of Mount Lorne-Marsh Lake as a country-residential area with similar characteristics to urban electoral districts,” the report reads.

A second change in the current Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes district would see the inclusion of Golden Horn to recognize its commonalities with the other country residential areas in the district – the hamlet of Mount Lorne, the Carcross Cut-off, the Annie Lake Road, Marsh Lake and area, Lewes Lake and the Robinson subdivision.

Another community cited its considerable and growing size in a written submission on boundary changes.

The Association franco-yukonnaise asked the commission Oct. 1 to “examine the statistics at its disposal to see if electoral districts could be redistributed to create a district where francophones would have considerable weight.” According to the submission, this proposed district would be in Whitehorse.

The suggestion was not reflected in the commission’s interim report.

The commission is, however, proposing minor changes to the boundaries of the Klondike and Copperbelt South electoral districts.

The former reflects a change requested in a written submission from Klondike returning officer Charles Brunner.

He asked that Klondike’s eastern boundary be adjusted to include electors living on the west side of the McQueston River “who are more connected with Dawson than with Mayo.”

Despite the proposed changes, the total number of electoral districts in the Yukon would remain at 19.

According to the report, the commission weighs a variety of considerations in making proposals for future electoral districts. These are:

• density and future growth;

• accessibility, size and geographical features;

• facilities, travel patterns and means of communication;

• census data, current elector population and demographics;

• any special circumstances of existing electoral districts;

• municipal and First Nations boundaries; and

• public input.

“The proposals represent the unanimous view of the members and were guided by public input, projected future development and population growth, judicial decisions on redistribution from jurisdictions across Canada and all considerations prescribed by law,” the report reads.

The boundaries commission, established by the Elections Act, is appointed after every second general election in the territory.

It’s comprised of Lori McKee, the territory’s chief electoral officer, Yukon Supreme Court Justice Ron Veale, and a partisan appointee from each political party represented in the legislature: Darren Parsons, Anne Tayler, and Jonas Smith.

The commission will host another period of consultation on the changes proposed in the interim report. The public is invited to comment by written submission or by presentation at public meetings in February and March 2018, dates and locations to be announced.

The commission’s final report will be submitted by April 20, 2018.

It will be tabled in the legislature, after which the government will introduce legislation that establishes electoral districts for the next two general elections.

The full interim report and the commission’s contact information are available at www.yukon boundaries.ca.

Comments (14)

Up 6 Down 0

Juniper Jackson on Nov 24, 2017 at 11:29 am

I would not trust a Liberal government now if they said it's winter outside. Not a word in this report about what it's going to cost taxpayers to do this and it's going to be pretty pricey.

Except for the other two parties who each get a seat on the Commission, it doesn't look all that "independent" to me.

Up 4 Down 1

Stacey is finished if this goes through. on Nov 24, 2017 at 10:31 am

But he now has his pension.

Up 3 Down 1

Tater on Nov 24, 2017 at 10:30 am

Old Crow as a riding with less than 10% of the voters in the populous ridings because of communication and travel issues. They have just a good communication as any other rural riding and as for travel, they have regular scheduled air service. And don't forget they don't have a road because they don't want one.

Up 4 Down 0

jc on Nov 22, 2017 at 9:34 pm

Liberals: So it is written, so it is done! 5 O'clock, time to go home!

Up 15 Down 6

Just Say'in on Nov 22, 2017 at 2:46 pm

You are absolutely correct. Old Crow is highly over represented, with only a little over a hundred voters and quite often sway the elections. Really there should only be about three ridings. Whse North, Whse South, and Rural Yukon. Our numbers do not support any more then that if you look at numbers Canada wide.

Up 16 Down 6

Just Say'in on Nov 22, 2017 at 2:41 pm

Did all you guys miss the most important point? This is about culture or more importantly Race. Let's put Watson, Liard, Ross River together because they are Kaska. Lets put Teslin, Carcross, Tagish together. The French think they need their own riding. WOW how race based can this get? This is not democracy. Let's segregate divide and concur. The Liberal way.

Up 5 Down 3

YukonMax on Nov 22, 2017 at 10:56 am

The Klondike riding should include Mayo.
Pelly Crossing is less then 3 hrs. away from Faro.

Up 11 Down 0

Yukon Lady on Nov 22, 2017 at 9:45 am

I feel for the MLA who represents Mayo -Pelly- Carmacks - Faro. There may be a mining history in common but Faro is the only one of the four that doesn't have a Northern Tutchone cultural background. That MLA will also have one heck of a distance to cover to reach all of their constituents on some pretty nasty roads.

Up 11 Down 5

comen sence on Nov 21, 2017 at 8:50 pm

I don't trust anything of a new idea the government has, it will always be something that will lead to a new tax, whoever you are with your new ideas that came here go back to were you came from.

Up 16 Down 2

Willard Phelps on Nov 21, 2017 at 6:52 pm

The changes regarding Faro, Ross River and Teslin are long overdue! Teslin is a Southern Lakes community with strong links to Tagish and Carcross (e.g. Tlingit ), whereas Ross River has closer ties to Watson Lake ( Kaska ). The MLA for the current riding has to travel a long distance to cover his riding esp. in winter when the South Canol is closed. I was the MLA for Southern Lakes - Ross River 20 years ago. Don't forget that the taxpayer pays for this travel!

Willard Phelps

Up 17 Down 9

Wundering on Nov 21, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Was this suggested by the panel commissioned on ways to raise government revenue to fight looming deficits??

Up 10 Down 3

Nile on Nov 21, 2017 at 4:03 pm

How do Dawson and Old Crow each get a seat? They should be merged at the very least. I see they also want to put the two most dysfunctional communities in the Yukon into the same riding. I feel bad for any MLA that wins that riding.

Up 26 Down 14

Groucho d'North on Nov 21, 2017 at 3:33 pm

Has anybody calculated what the added costs will be to create all these new MLA offices complete with support staff and all the rest of the trappings in political office? I'd be curious to see the range of budgets proposed to make our democracy better.

Up 21 Down 15

ralpH on Nov 21, 2017 at 2:49 pm

Why can't Faro, Ross River be a riding onto itself? Just seems that they have more in common than Watson Lake which is almost 400 KILOMETRES away. Notice the Premiers riding stays just Dawson. When doling out resources it is always on a riding to riding basis. So now they will have to fight over one share.

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