Some local businesses and organizations are treating the two weeks of the Canada Winter Games as a second Christmas, and are conducting essential duties with a skeleton crew.
But with 7,000 extra people on the streets, others are gearing up for a busy tourist season.
Here’s a rundown of how a few of Whitehorse’s elemental services will balance the Games’ fever with their day-to-day business.
Games’ clinic to take load off Whitehorse hospital
The Whitehorse General Hospital is expecting business as usual despite the influx of visitors to the city.
Most of the sprains, strains, coughs and colds will be taken care of at the Canada Winter Games Host Society clinic located at the athletes’ village.
The clinic will be open to Games’ athletes, coaches and mission staff between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily.
And each Games’ venue will have medical professionals at the ready, said Val Pike, hospital spokesperson and the person in charge of medical services at the Games.
“We are set up to handle most medical emergencies; the only thing we won’t be doing are X-rays,” she said.
Hospital staff expect an increase in the number of X-rays performed during those two weeks.
“However we are expecting the impact to be minimal. It should be no different than a busy tourist season,” said hospital CEO Michael Aeberhardt in a release.
Outpatient visitors to the hospital will be monitored on a day-to-day basis.
Every person who comes in to the hospital will be asked if their visit is because of the Games — whether they’re a participant, VIP, media person, volunteer or spectator.
The hospital will tally its statistics at the end of each day.
The Games will not affect staffing levels at the facility, added Pike.
“We’ve got a hospital to run — there are no departments working on a skeleton staff, it’s business as usual,” she said.
City ramps up road
clearing, puts bylaw
officers on traffic duty
“Administratively, everything will function exactly as you see it at Christmas time,” said city administrative services director Robert Fendrick.
Staffing numbers will be down, but all of the services will be available, said Fendrick.
All of Whitehorse’s city buildings will be open and staff members volunteering for the Games will have their duties covered by another employee.
The city’s six bylaw officers will be helping the RCMP manage traffic at the busier venues during the event.
“It’s critical that people be able to move around quickly so we want to assist with traffic flows and make sure buses get to their destinations quicker.”
Staff will still be monitoring parking meters, but no extra staff will be on hand to monitor the influx of cars.
In the past week, the city has ramped up its plowing and snow clearing on streets and sidewalks around the city.
“Being the host city, we want to make sure the city is as safe and as transport ready as it can be,” said Fendrick.
Crews are working around the clock to assist with plowing and snow removal.
“It’s going to be interesting to see what the budget looks like, but we’re very committed to having a successful Games here.”
Meanwhile, city council will take a short hiatus. It will meet on Monday, but has cancelled its meetings for the following two weeks.
Meetings will resume on March 19.
RCMP to run extra patrols with increased staff
With tourists, athletes and VIPs trickling into town over the past few days, Whitehorse has seen an increase in fender-benders.
“It’s probably a combination of people in a rush to get where they’re going and not knowing the city — that kind of stuff,” said RCMP Sgt. Roger Lockwood.
“We realize there’s an increased population in Whitehorse and are increasing our patrols,” he added.
The department has also brought in additional officers from Yukon communities and some from the south.
Lockwood could not say how many.
“We’re taking reasonable steps through the planning and preparation; should an emergency occur, we’d be ready to deal with it.
“Our duties don’t change; our number one duty is to safe homes and safe communities,” said Lockwood.
Courts run half-strength, no trials scheduled
The wheels of justice will turn just a little more slowly over the next few weeks in Whitehorse.
Courts will be working at half strength, to leave staff free to volunteer for the Games, said Justice spokesperson Chris Beacom.
No trials are scheduled for the next two-weeks.
The Whitehorse courthouse will be running its essential services. Docket courts, bail hearings and council chambers will be open, following an order from the senior supreme court judge and chief territorial court judge.
“They do that every year at Christmas so they’re used to it,” said Beacom.
Despite being short staffed, the courts will be prepared to field any emergencies that may arise.
“If there is a 50-person brawl and people need to come through, they’ll be ready for that,” Beacom added.