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Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn

Major gymnastics, climbing facility announced

The new Polarettes Gymnastics Club facility will proceed in Whistle Bend this year, Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn announced in the legislature on Thursday.

By Tim Giilck on April 22, 2022

The new Polarettes Gymnastics Club facility will proceed in Whistle Bend this year, Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn announced in the legislature on Thursday.

The facility, which will also incorporate a climbing gym, was part of the Liberals’ 2021 election platform.

It’s expected to cost between $19 million and $22 million. Mostyn made the announcement in a ministerial statement.

“I know that today I will hear support for this new facility coming to Whitehorse, as all parties in this assembly supported the construction of a new facility in the last election,” he said.

The club has more than 1,000 active members and a wait-list of kids.

It has outgrown its facility at Vanier Catholic Secondary School, Mostyn noted, and the new facility will allow for more participation and expanded programming.

“Yukoners are some of the most active people in the country, and rock-climbing has exploded in popularity in our territory and across Canada,” he said.

“Climbing is now an Olympic sport and a sport option in the Canada Winter Games.

“Climb Yukon Association has coached a youth climbing team in the Yukon for more than 26 years, and since 2008, they have worked as a not-for-profit and now a sport governing body promoting climbing in the Yukon.”

The association has outgrown the bouldering walls at Porter Creek Secondary School, he added.

The new facility, to be located on Goddard Way, will provide more programming and regular public access to a modern indoor climbing facility, he noted.

“The gymnastics and climbing facilities will be separate spaces within a common, energy-efficient building,” he told the house.

The government is working with the Polarettes and Climb Yukon on the design.

“The tender will open this summer, and we expect that the facility will be ready by the end of March 2024,” he advised the house.

“This facility will also strengthen our bid to host the 2027 Canada Winter Games.”

Yukon Party MLA Patti McLeod offered praise for the project.

“I think everyone understands how important recreation is in our territory — not only for adults, but especially for youth,” she said.

“We know that we need to keep our youth busy with positive influences so they don’t take a turn down the wrong road.

“For many Yukoners, whether it is sports, arts, or any other activity, something you try as a child usually carries over into your adult years,” McLeod added.

“That’s why the Polarettes Gymnastics Club is so important. It’s definitely a club that has no partisan lines, as witnessed in last year’s territorial election.

“The Polarettes are very popular in the community,” she noted.

However, she did express some concerns.

“What is the budget for the project?” she asked. “How much is the government chipping in?

“I am also wondering if the minister has taken into consideration supply chain issues and has budgeted for delays and increased costs.

“As the minister mentioned, this facility will include a climbing wall. Can he tell us how this is worked into the budget and how much he has consulted with the main user of the climbing wall, the Climb Yukon Association, on the wall’s planning?” McLeod asked.

“Finally, the minister has said that the new facility will form part of their bid for the Canada Winter Games, so can the minister assure us that it will be built to those certain specifications?”

NDP Leader Kate White also offered praise followed by questions.

“Can the minister tell us the funding arrangement between Yukon and Canada to get this facility built?

“We also are wondering about the plans about the current club facility. Will it still be available as a public space for families who currently use it for drop- in and, if not, what are the government’s plans for the existing space?”

All Yukon communities deserve this type of facililty, she added.

“We know that recreation is good for physical health and mental health, kids and adults alike. So, when will the government ensure that all Yukoners have access to year-round recreational opportunities?”

Since Mostyn has linked the facility to Whitehorse’s bid for the 2027 Canada Winter Games, she said, “can the minister tell me what the housing plan is for the 2027 Canada Winter Games?

“The housing built for the 2007 Canada Winter Games is a legacy; housing both seniors and students at Yukon University,” she said.

“So we look forward to similar legacy housing investments as part of this bid for the Canada Winter Games.”

Mostyn said many of the answers to those questions are listed in the budget.

“To the members opposite, we do have a five-year capital plan. It actually lists the climbing facility in the five-year capital plan.

“The budget for that project is $19 million to $22 million. I encourage the official Opposition to use that tool.”

Comments (41)

Up 3 Down 0

SH on May 2, 2022 at 1:45 pm

Thanks Mitch, you make some good points as well. I also appreciate being able to have a reasonable debate with someone! I think some commercial development around the CGC is a great idea, as it does seem to be one of the more central areas of Whitehorse. It also has the benefit of not being in the downtown core.

Up 2 Down 0

Mitch Holder on Apr 29, 2022 at 3:19 pm

@ SH -Thank you kindly for the civil debate, probably one of the better conversations I have enjoyed these past two to three years. What I will concede is that, given proper surrounding commercial and recreational zoning, Whistlebend is really as viable as anywhere in Whitehorse. I would suggest commercial development around the CGC as well.

Up 2 Down 0

Mitch Holder on Apr 29, 2022 at 2:03 pm

@ SH - Fair points. To clarify, I agree that the downtown wouldn't work out, a little too central with two ways in or out. However, I think a lot of folks would agree that even the CGC is not accessible to a lot of people - schedule out a route and let me know if you would commit to that every week. It is improving however. I would suggest former Takhini Arena, already on the most common northbound transit loop. While we would all likely like to see some Whistlebend development, in my opinion, this could be closer to every other neighbourhood in Whitehorse proper, for the good of the kids who don't drive who will use it.

Up 3 Down 0

SH on Apr 29, 2022 at 10:13 am


- Too much centralization results in congestion and traffic. Spreading out recreational facilities reduces congestion and traffic.
- What percentage of people in Whitehorse don't have access to a vehicle or public transportation? There is bus service to Whistle Bend on every day of the week. Getting to Whistle Bend from anywhere shouldn't be a problem for anyone, especially if you plan ahead.
- A firehall in Whistle Bend might be preferable, but it isn't a dire need. Whistle Bend is already 5-10 years old. How many houses have burnt down because the Two Mile Hill fire hall was too far away? Regardless, it sounds like a firehall is in the works, according to the article you referred to. Seems like building in Whistle Bend wasn't as poorly thought out as you had indicated.

Up 1 Down 0

Chuck Farley on Apr 29, 2022 at 7:06 am

So the facility will also incorporate a climbing gym amongst other features, growing demographics makes sense and also the kids, youth will be more engaged in these activities gain a sense of pride, strong character rather than breaking into your vehicles, homes, businesses.

Up 1 Down 1

Mitch Holder on Apr 28, 2022 at 3:29 pm

@ SH - but more to the point, would you walk there from anywhere else in town on a regular basis? Probably not. Your bias is vehicular. Centralize recreation in Whitehorse.

Up 1 Down 1

Mitch Holder on Apr 28, 2022 at 2:01 pm

@ SH - https://www.whitehorsestar.com/News/whistle-bend-needs-a-fire-hall-councillor. This was just this winter. Speak to the Longterm Care facility for more citation to support my claims.

Up 8 Down 0

Groucho d'North on Apr 28, 2022 at 9:05 am

I recall that before the investment was made to reconstruct the hospital, suggestions were made to rebuild/relocate the hospital to a more centralized location within the city to better serve the growing community.
Willard Phelps took the proposed idea to the feds who did not support such a significant change or expense.

Up 5 Down 1

John on Apr 28, 2022 at 5:17 am

For 22 million I hope they make it realistic and add some elk dung and grizzly scat to all those expensive indoor rocks.

Up 5 Down 3

SH on Apr 27, 2022 at 4:43 pm


Okay, add a few minutes to account for snow on the worst days. I still fail to see how this is a problem. I haven't heard of anybody dying or having extended injuries because the hospital was too far away from Whistle Bend. You will have won me over if you can prove otherwise...

Up 14 Down 4

Mitch Holder on Apr 27, 2022 at 1:54 pm

@ SH - maybe in July, on a sunny day, with no ploughing involved...this winter though, we saw the logistical issues and this is of what I speak. Sorry kids, no gymnastics tonight, city council has to choose between doing the roads and bringing awareness to a new government holiday.

Up 7 Down 4

Mitch Holder on Apr 27, 2022 at 12:19 pm

@ SH - ask the paramedics and firefighters about those commutes....

Up 7 Down 6

SH on Apr 27, 2022 at 11:08 am

Mitch Holder, an ambulance could drive to Whistlebend from the hospital in under 10 minutes, while a firetruck could arrive in under 5 minutes. I fail to see how this is a problem.

Up 5 Down 1

brad on Apr 26, 2022 at 5:30 pm

i bet Whitehorse will be bigger 50 years from now.

Up 10 Down 4

brad on Apr 26, 2022 at 5:27 pm

Any plans for a Whistlebend grocery store?

Up 12 Down 6

Mitch Holder on Apr 26, 2022 at 2:31 pm

@ SH - Oh I don't doubt that, but ask yourself, was it smart to build the largest subdivision in the territory at the most difficult place geographically to be accessed by paramedics, police and fire services as well as utilities? You thought building on a flood plain was stupid, hold Whitehorse's beer....Now, that said, has we sprawled our commercial around the city limits a little more in the last 400 years, no one subdivision would be more remote than another. Argus profited nicely with some foresight, Whitehorse could learn from them.

Up 9 Down 7

SH on Apr 26, 2022 at 10:36 am

Mitch Holder, "the most inaccessible corner of Whitehorse" is going to be - by far - the largest subdivision in the Territory. As such, literally anywhere else is going to be less accessible than Whistebend.

Up 8 Down 8

YD on Apr 26, 2022 at 10:12 am

Charlie's Aunt, 95% of Whistlebend is already being used for housing. It's good to mix things up a bit, especially if it means keeping people out of downtown.

Up 24 Down 1

John on Apr 26, 2022 at 9:54 am

I’m sure glad that the Star allows for comments on issues. And I sure hope that politicians read the comments because that's where they will truly see how the population feels about things. Cudos to the Star for keeping democracy and open dialogue alive.

Up 24 Down 2

Oya on Apr 25, 2022 at 5:00 pm

How about some new roads to handle all the traffic? How about a new bridge? There are a BAZILLION things we could spend this money on. Not once ever, did I think, "Oh, a new gymnastics centre! That's exactly what we need!

Up 22 Down 4

Max Mack on Apr 25, 2022 at 3:03 pm

This project will cost much more than $22 million with inflation, cost-plus addons, infrastructure upgrades, and renovation of the existing gymnastics facility. I will speculate that the all-in cost will be north of 30 million.

As for a rock climbing wall/facility, this is a very expensive proposition for such a small population. Ultimately, it will benefit a very select demographic -- although I'm sure GY will seek to pad the numbers by having schools use the facility as part of their recreational programming. Then there is the matter of transporting students to/from school. Not cheap.

After the initial surge of curiosity seekers, not many people will be willing to pay the $60-$80 per month membership fees. This means, that GY will be subsidizing the monthly costs for that select demographic. Your tax dollars hard at work.

Up 17 Down 4

JustSayin' on Apr 25, 2022 at 2:55 pm

I am concerned at the long term costs of these facilities for a short term gain? What will be the cost if 50 years to demolition them, is there a secondary use for them or a tertiary use? Have we had anyone from the Yukon compete in the Olympics for gymnastics? How far will this facility take us? We have an arena (Takhini) which needs to be reconstructed or replaced. Ice sports seems to be the biggest demand in the Yukon with people practicing and playing from 6 am to 11 pm on weekends, would it not be better to have facilities to meet the demands of many rather than the few?

Up 29 Down 6

Mitch on Apr 25, 2022 at 11:16 am

Snow dumps, graveyard access, riverbank maintenance, firesmart, flood preparations, road sumping, sidewalks by Saveon, another bridge, an opioid crisis, Downtown Detroit of crime and drugs, Yukon, pandemic, retail sector destroyed, tourism dying of a gutshot, transit, more policing on downtown streets, on all streets for that matter, garbage and mask cleanup, RENTAL CRISIS!!!, man, I could write a Leo Tolstoy novel for the COW honey do list, Honey Dew do number 1, duck my work-boot. If one more stupid proposal comes out of this city council I am going to run for city council just to make your life a living hell until you stop with the frivolous breaches of civic duty. Enough is enough, stop ruining a daycare and start running a god damned city!

Up 16 Down 5

Nick on Apr 25, 2022 at 9:51 am

I'm really torn after reading some of the comments. I'll admit I'm biased, being one of the people who will use these facilities, but I see the point that this money could have been spent better elsewhere. I'll remain optimistic and keep the mentality that 'if we build it, they will come'. That is to say, perhaps climbing will become more popular if people have easier access to it. There's somewhat of a steep barrier for entry because it requires proper training and gear so lots of hikers and backpacking types will get filtered before ever trying it. I would highly encourage everyone who is into hiking and the outdoors to go try it out if you've never been climbing. It will make you a better hiker and more confident in the mountains. I'll bet the kids are going to love it.

I was joking about Canmore by the way. I love it there I'm just salty I couldn't afford it and had to move. Jokes on me though, it's not much cheaper up here. Oh well, at least the mountains are free.

Up 20 Down 6

Groucho d'North on Apr 25, 2022 at 9:50 am

It will be well appriciated by many, until somebody falls off and breaks a limb or two, then it will be shut down pending a detailed investigation on the dynamics of gravity and how it can be manipulated to provide a new healthy pastime for people of all physical abilities and limitations. I wonder how much the inquest will cost?

Up 24 Down 7

Mitch Holder on Apr 25, 2022 at 9:43 am

Why would you move it to the most inaccessible corner of Whitehorse?

Up 26 Down 4

John on Apr 25, 2022 at 7:32 am

I must be missing something.
20 million to climb in the great indoors?
Someone from the outside is going to read this and think Yukoners are going soft.

Up 17 Down 6

Animaniacs! on Apr 24, 2022 at 11:11 pm

When I look at the Minister’s picture I do not read competence. However, my inner voice does this dissociative shift and I can hear my self singing the Looney Tunes theme song in Porky Pigs voice…

Up 26 Down 3

North_of_60 on Apr 24, 2022 at 5:04 pm

“This facility will also strengthen our bid to host the 2027 Canada Winter Games.”... so we can waste more millions on a two week Lieberal Legacy sports party we can't afford.
We have real problems affecting everyone. The generous Billion dollar gift we get from the taxpayers of Canada should be spent to benefit everyone not just more extravagant spending for a few.
Half of this could build the same facility onto the CGC, where far more will use it. The other half could be spent on affordable housing and solving real problems.

Up 27 Down 11

Matthew on Apr 23, 2022 at 8:52 pm

Hey @ LostInTheYukon .. well your name says it all, you surely are lost..

Up 23 Down 61

Lost In the Yukon on Apr 23, 2022 at 4:11 pm

… oh good, more opportunities for the privileged class … meanwhile non-privileged (aka non-white) struggle with housing and food security. But are we surprised? Look at the composition of the Liberal Cabinet.

Up 55 Down 5

Opinionated on Apr 23, 2022 at 1:45 pm

This is good news as a father of children that use the existing facility. At the same time this is an absolute terrible use of money to invest in the territory that will provide little to no economic value. What's the payback on this one? 100 years?

The price tag will absolutely be higher without question.

Up 45 Down 11

John on Apr 23, 2022 at 11:52 am

A nice to have but certainly not now. There are way too many other priorities need here - now. This only serves a small group. We don't need the CG either - that we can ill afford.

Up 52 Down 10

Al on Apr 23, 2022 at 11:33 am

22 million would be better spent on infrastructure, like housing.

Up 40 Down 8

AdmiralA$$ on Apr 23, 2022 at 9:43 am

Oooh, so this is the real reason the new city hall was "canceled" so they could spend on more useless crap for the city people who can't get outside and go do something. Whatever, at least you got something to go do instead of something to look at. Couple years it will be half empty and cost the city far more then the proposed "budget" put forth here. All with hand shakes and congratulations from our politicians.
One day people will understand that prices go up because we can't live within our means. Until then enjoy the new rate hikes. Oh and I was right, new inflation print was 6.7% on the CPI this quarter. So with the whopping 1% fed funds rate that leaves us at -5.7% real rates still. Booming economy...really.

Up 51 Down 6

John on Apr 23, 2022 at 9:33 am

Come on, let's be realistic. For 20 million, the government could have built 2 small houses and then claim to have conquered the housing problem.

Up 56 Down 11

John on Apr 23, 2022 at 9:28 am

Sounds like a total waste of 20 million dollars to me.
Are all the climbing hills in the Yukon taken or something?

Up 44 Down 9

Charlie's Aunt on Apr 22, 2022 at 10:09 pm

What do I know, obviously not much. Not saying we shouldn't have this facilty but wondering why CGC couldn't be expanded instead of using valuable land in WB that possibly could be used for housing.

Up 40 Down 15

Matthew on Apr 22, 2022 at 7:56 pm

But what about COVID!? This will need a multiple full time employees just "cleaning". Complete waste of money, as a nation we really need to STOP printing money! Boggles my mind how the liberals simply don't care and will write any cheque needed to stay in power..

Up 32 Down 29

Nick on Apr 22, 2022 at 4:26 pm

Phenomenal news. We live in the mountains and like to go out and explore them. Anything that will promote safety in these environments is great news for the territory. There's a certain mindset that comes with the training that can be applied to other aspects of life when it comes to things like risk assessment, commitment, ability to push through your fears etc. Climbing is such a wonderful sport with such a broad spectrum of difficulty and comfort levels. It really unlocks the mountains in ways that hiking cannot. This sort of training will better prepare people for work outdoors in the territory and boost confidence levels and safety with it.
Man I could go on this is just so amazing. Just don't tell Canmore about it we don't want them all moving up here. Got enough knitted toques and patagonia jackets as it is. "Who me? No, I live in Canmore. I could NEVER live in Banff. Too crowded for me". Some of you reading this will know the type I'm referring to. You probably work with a few, straight out of Ontario.

Up 80 Down 16

BnR on Apr 22, 2022 at 3:55 pm

Speaking of providing for the entitled.
It’s not just the current crop of politicians either, the YP did this too. I mean, we get $1,000,000,000 every year to play with. We’re like a trust fund kid at college. Every day's a party.
Here’s a gymnastics facility, to support all our Olympic level gymnasts I guess.
French school for 50 students? Sure, why not.
New grandiose Sally Anne that the SA had no way at all of running never mind operating? Here ya go.
Everybody gets their own hospital! Hurrah! Spend!!!!!

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