I am writing as the Yukon Party candidate for the Whitehorse Centre byelection to take issue with the NDP and the Liberal candidates portraying downtown Whitehorse in a negative light.
The sole focus appears to be on all the social problems in downtown Whitehorse, whether it is the need for a homeless shelter, community safety, affordable housing or substance abuse.
They fail to acknowledge that the Yukon Party government is addressing all of these challenges and has done more to meet these challenges than any previous Yukon government Ã NDP or Liberal.
The Yukon Party government has been addressing homelessness, since being elected in 2002, through a number of initiatives, whether it be support for the Salvation Army, funding of the three youth groups Ã the Youth of Today Society, Bringing Youth Towards Equality, and the Boys and Girls Club, funding the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre and providing youth beds at the Sarah Steele Building.
It was the Yukon Party government that presented a motion in the legislature that passed unanimously to establish a homeless shelter in downtown Whitehorse. Various options are currently being considered in working with the Salvation Army and the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre, including establishing such a facility at 207 Alexander Street.
It was the Yukon Party government that passed the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) legislation and established the RCMP Street Crime Reduction Team promoting community safety in downtown Whitehorse. It was as consequence of these actions that the infamous drug house at 810 Wheeler has been turned into a Habitat for Humanity triplex.
It was the Yukon Party government that invested approximately $100 million since being elected in 2002 for new affordable housing for seniors, families and Yukoners in need. This investment has increased the Yukon housing portfolio by 40 per cent.
In downtown Whitehorse alone, in addition to the Habitat for Humanity triplex at 810 Wheeler, there is the new children’s receiving home to provide a safe and healthy environment for children and youth who have been removed from their families because of abuse and neglect, as well as $11.25 million for the 30-unit replacement of the 207 Alexander Street seniors’ housing that is currently being constructed at Spook Creek on the Whitehorse waterfront.
It was the Yukon Party government that re-established the Sarah Steele Treatment Centre, the Crossroads facility having been cancelled by a previous NDP Yukon government and that the previous Liberal Yukon government failed to reopen.
It was the Yukon Party government that developed the comprehensive Substance Abuse Action Plan and the five-step FASD Action Plan dealing with substance abuse. No previous Yukon government has done more in dealing with substance abuse.
Despite all these actions and initiatives, Liz Hanson and Kirk Cameron are implying the Yukon Party government has done nothing. You be the judge.
What bothers me more than this tired old confrontational political rhetoric, however, is the fact their comments are portraying the Whitehorse Centre riding in a negative light, that there is nothing good happening in the riding.
I beg to differ with them.
It is a fact that the Yukon Party was the only political party to have made a specific commitment to maintain the economic integrity and revitalize Whitehorse’s downtown core in its 2006 election platform.
The Yukon Party government is more than meeting this commitment.
Walk around downtown and see for yourself. The Roundhouse has been restored and is being used to house the trolley.
The Old Fire Hall has been restored and has become a focal point for arts and culture.
The MacBride Museum has expanded and has become a meeting centre for many businesses, groups and associations.
Shipyards Park has transformed the Whitehorse waterfront and is providing a “home” for special events such as the Farmers Market in the summer and the Sourdough Rendezvous in the winter.
Many Whitehorse Centre residents are taking advantage of the Yukon Housing Corporation’s home repair program.
Older homes are being refurbished and new homes are being built. The number of condominium complexes in downtown Whitehorse has been increasing rapidly together with the construction of new commercial space. All this construction activity is due, in large part, to the healthy state of the Yukon economy that has been rejuvenated by the Yukon Party government.
There is no question that most Yukoners are better off today than they were in 2002 when the Yukon Party first took office and inherited a depressed economy.
The good news is that there is more good news to come.
The historic heart of downtown, the Whitehorse waterfront, is going to undergo a major upgrading with 12 new projects being constructed through a co-operative venture involving the governments of Canada, Yukon, Ta’an Kwach’an, Kwanlin Dun and Whitehorse. The Whitehorse waterfront has always needed a key anchor attraction and this is now going to be achieved through the construction of the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre and a new Whitehorse Public Library.
Downtown Whitehorse is the heart of the city.
Contrary to the impressions left by the NDP and Liberal candidates in this byelection, it is a great place to live, work and play.
It would be my honour and privilege to be a positive voice in the Yukon legislative assembly for the electors of Whitehorse Centre should they cast their ballot for me on December 13.