Apparently it takes a government to raise a village

We recently came across an extraordinary remark. Read it, and mull it over. “It would be unrealistic for people to build new hotel space for…

We recently came across an extraordinary remark.

Read it, and mull it over.

“It would be unrealistic for people to build new hotel space for a two-week event.”

Are you mulling?

Incredible, isn’t it.

That was Canada Games president Piers McDonald (the story can be found on page 20).

He was discussing the dating service the organization set up to match visitors with homeowners who have an extra room, or two, to rent out.

It’s a novel idea to deal with the problem of the coming tourist influx.

But the remark resonated — spurring thoughts about the government’s athletes’ village.

You know, those multi-storey Atco trailer constructs cobbled together at the college at the last minute to accommodate visitors for a two-week period.

The 141 modules cost $31.4 million.

Dennis Fentie’s Yukon government contributed $27.4 million, the city and Games split responsibility for the other $4 million.

That’s a lot of money.

How much?

Well, first consider the land was, essentially, free.

Then consider, as one person noted recently, that the government could have bought 157, $200,000 residential homes (including the cost of the land) in Whitehorse for that sum.

That would have been a nice chunk of Porter Creek’s lower bench — which could have been sold off after the Games, alleviating the city’s lot shortage.

Of course, that never happened.

Instead, the city finds itself facing a critical lot shortage, but there’s a couple of apartment blocks at the college site.

Some will be used for student housing.

But what will the rest be used for?

Seniors and subsidized housing, perhaps. But will such people — who often don’t have vehicles — want to live at the college, far from movie theatres and shopping?

Not likely.

The government will, of course, find some use for it — perhaps granting some more office space to the college.

But that’s not really the point.

Fact is, was it realistic for the Yukon government to spend $27 million to build a dorm that will be used for two weeks — especially given that, originally, it was supposed to be a $3-million project.

If it’s not reasonable for hoteliers, why is it reasonable for government?

Such questions are relevant today, because Premier Dennis Fentie is trumpeting his ability to build an economy.

And, in reality, his crew couldn’t plan a dorm. (RM)

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