Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Whitehorse Star

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon and NDP Party leader Kate White

Vote on amendments to acts put off to 2022

After some negotiations and debate in the legislature, the Liberal and NDP caucuses have agreed to shelve the contentious Act to Amend the Assessment and Taxation Act & the Municipal Act (Bill No. 3) until next spring.

By Tim Giilck on December 2, 2021

After some negotiations and debate in the legislature, the Liberal and NDP caucuses have agreed to shelve the contentious Act to Amend the Assessment and Taxation Act & the Municipal Act (Bill No. 3) until next spring.

In a news release issued Wednesday, the NDP stated, “Since the beginning of the fall sitting, the Yukon NDP has been clear: the Yukon government must work with municipalities to bring them on side of this legislation, as they will be the ones doing the heavy lifting for this program.”

Under the government’s plan, municipalities would administer a territorial program that offers energy efficiency incentives to property owners.

Party leader Kate White said, “Municipalities have shared concerns and questions regarding this program.

“They expressed the desire to have this legislation postponed until the spring to have time to work with the government on a program they can be on side with.

“I am glad the government has listened, and I look forward to hearing about the collaborative work that is ahead.”

The release stated the NDP would vote in favour of Bill No. 3 at Wednesday’s second reading, and in favour of the final vote in the spring 2022.

“In exchange, the Yukon government committed to work with municipalities in a working group to ensure they have their voices heard on the development of the Better Buildings Program,” the NDP said.

For its part, the Yukon Party said the Liberal government has “caved” on the issue.

“The Liberals, and in particular the minister of Community Services (Richard Mostyn), have admitted their adversaraial approach to Bill No 3, An Act to Amend the Assessment and Taxation Act and the Municipal Act (2021), failed, and has strained relationships with municipalities,” the Yukon Party said in a release.

“Faced with government legislation that was about to be defeated, the Liberals blinked at the last minute and agreed to demands by opposition parties to put the legislation in limbo until the spring.”

The bill’s fate, said leader Currie Dixon, “is a significant failure by a government that is on life support as they were forced to admit defeat on their hallmark piece of legislation this year.

“For the last several months, the Liberals have expended a considerable amount of energy into promoting this legislation – yet due to the aggressive approach of the minister, they were forced to admit that they got it wrong and scuttle the bill until next year.”

While the Yukon Party is favours any program that helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change, Dixon added, “the government must respect and take seriously the views of municipalities, as they are key partners in the fight against climate change.

“If the Liberals do their due diligence, and come back having addressed the municipalities’ concerns in the spring, then we will happily help speed this legislation along.”

The four municipalities which sent letters outlining their concerns are Mayo, Whitehorse, Teslin and Watson Lake.

“At our special meeting of November 24, 2021, the council for the Village of Mayo once again discussed the proposed Better Buildings Program and the draft amendments to the Assessment and Taxation Act and the Municipal Act that arc currently before the legislature,” the letter from Mayo reads.

“The Village of Mayo council fully supports the Better Buildings Program and its intent, and believes that this program is worth pursuing.

“However, council is not in favour of using the local improvement charge (LIC) to collect the loan payments on behalf of Yukon Government (YG).

“The Village of Mayo council has many unanswered questions surrounding the administration of this program outside of the obvious questions involving our lack of capacity, costs, etc.

“Many of council’s concerns with this program involve the negative effects on our municipal staff, as well as on council,” Mayo’s letter adds

“There appears to be little flexibility in the program with regard to collection of an unpaid loan. This could potentially put the municipality in a position where we would have to evict a resident from their home through the tax lien process for non-payment of a loan owed to YG.”

The letter from Watson Lake states, “Our council believes that it is an extremely beneficial program that will help the Yukon government meet greenhouse gas emission benchmarks, while also increasing property values, and help Yukoners keep more money in their pockets.

“As we brought up in our meeting, our council has some concerns with the way in which the Yukon government is deploying the program,” Watson Lake’s letter to the government added.

“Although we understand that this is a time-sensitive matter and a top priority for your government, we do not understand the urgency to get this passed through the legislation now.

“We feel that there is a lot of pressure being put onto the municipalities, with limited information on administration of the program and a very short time frame to make an informed decision.”

“We feel that the Better Buildings Program has the potential to be an amazing program, but we would like to see more due diligence done before it is passed.

“We are struggling to understand why a working group has not already been formed, and why there are still so many unanswered questions about the inner workings of the program implementation and administration.”

More than a month ago, Whitehorse also expressed reservations about the bill and program.

“The City is surprised that YG is choosing to proceed at this time without further direct conversation with the city,” the city stated in a letter signed by former mayor Dan Curtis.

“Our administration reports that December 2020 was the last time a formal meeting occurred on this topic; at this time a commitment was made by YG representatives to explore ways to shift any ongoing program delivery burden proposed under the program away from other aspects of our relationship.

“No further communication was received by our appointed representative,” Curtis pointed out.

“Once again, I would like to request that YG seriously consider the concerns of the City of Whitehorse and the Association of Yukon Communities, and defer these legislative amendments until such time as alternate delivery options which keep the program delivery burdens with YG can be developed.”

However, Mayor Laura Cabott told the Star Thursday she’s more pleased with the situation after hearing of the compromise struck between the Liberals and the NDP.

She said she was personally in favour of simply passing the legislation, but that many of her council colleagues were not.

“Things have changed, and there’s been some movement,” Cabott said.

“We have a commitment from minister Mostyn to work together and for municipalities to have a voice. I think a lot of people will like that.”

Comments (5)

Up 6 Down 4

Stop with all the Climate Change Craziness on Dec 3, 2021 at 7:49 pm

Not hard to see what happened here. Silver just playing politics.

He first had his 'nice guy' Minister Streicker try and get the municipalities to play ball but when playing nice didn't work, he shuffled in his bulldog aka Mostyn to play hard ball with the communities and ram it through.

What the Liberals need to realize is that their pet agenda of climate change is not as important as intergovernmental-relations and administrative concerns. In the real world, climate change does NOT trump everything else. Even the NDP now seem to realize this thankfully. Government simply can't afford to be doing all of this expensive climate change stuff.

Up 14 Down 1

PJ's Ghost on Dec 3, 2021 at 12:32 pm

@TMYK: You're trying to cover up by excluding the possibility of departmental contact with the political level of government. It would be expected for the deputy minister to at the very least give the minister a heads up of such a sensitive issue. There are four investigations and let's hope the evidence comes out.

Up 13 Down 14

TMYK on Dec 3, 2021 at 6:33 am

Also, take a look at the lawyer the Liberals hired to do their “investigation”. She’s a mediator. She wasn’t hired to find out who’s fault this is. She was hired to sweep this under the rug and say it’s no one’s fault.

Up 14 Down 14

TMYK on Dec 2, 2021 at 7:27 pm

So the Libs had to cave and do what the Yukon Party have been telling them to do for a year.

@PJ what are you smoking? The department hid this from the YP. That’s what handling it internally means. The Liberals on the other hand knew about it and tried to hide it from the parents.

Up 40 Down 38

PJ’s Ghost on Dec 2, 2021 at 2:26 pm

I’m getting tired of hearing Currie whine about everything. Here, he questioned the “hallmark piece” but what about his “primary issue”? Not a peep about the school since his motion “caved”. Now we’re waiting to see if investigations will reveal he could have stopped the abuser long before the liberals were elected government. Hypocrite!

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.