It was never supposed to be like this, but it is happening anyway.
Throughout the city, hoteliers are preparing to profit from the Canada Winter Games.
And many less-fortunate Yukoners will pay the price. We expect more than a few will be turned out of their rooms during the two-week sporting extravaganza.
Mayor Bev Buckway knows about the problem. Last week, she discussed it with the Whitehorse Planning Group on Homelessness.
Social Services knows about it. The department has identified it as an issue and is examining it.
Premier Dennis Fentie knows about it. He talked about it during the last election campaign, suggesting he wouldn’t allow it to happen.
Problem is, there’s little anyone can do to stop it.
The more savvy hoteliers are playing by the book.
Many have stopped accepting long-term tenants. Instead, they are only taking short-term stays.
And so, in mid February, they will simply tell their clients they have to leave. The room is booked by a new client.
And, officially, they won’t have turfed out long-term clients. Just regular nightly customers who have chosen to stick around for a few months.
Now, Fentie suggested long-term fallout for hoteliers who abandoned the city’s poorer citizens.
It sounded good, but it was an empty threat because there’s no alternative.
The hotel rooms exist, people need them and so the government will, in the end, deal with those businessmen again.
After this two-week weirdness, life will return to normal.
And there’s some evidence the abandonment of long-term clients is within the comfort level of Games organizers.
They have sought assurances from some hoteliers that long-term stays won’t be turfed out.
Who have they approached?
Tellingly, the Pioneer and Chilkoot hotels — in Monopoly parlance, Whitehorse’s Baltic and Mediterranean properties.
In cutting that deal, we expect Games officials have tried to limit visitors’ exposure to the city’s low-end hotels.
But those same officials didn’t talk to the River View or Family Hotel, two decent budget hotels, about the abandonment issue.
In fact, the Games booked most of the River View’s rooms. (RM)