Let’s focus on accessibility

Let's focus on accessibility Many Yukoners, particularly seniors and persons living with disabilities, tell me they are concerned about the accessibility of Yukon government buildings and services. Some of these people live in Yukon Housing buildings, wh

Many Yukoners, particularly seniors and persons living with disabilities, tell me they are concerned about the accessibility of Yukon government buildings and services. Some of these people live in Yukon Housing buildings, while others are seeking work with the Yukon government or are users of front-line government services.

In August I wrote to the four government ministers with the greatest responsibility for these issues – the ministers of Health and Social Services, Community Services, and Highways and Public Works, and the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation. I asked them to outline their accessibility plans.

I still await a response. One issue I raised is the future of the old Whitehorse Public Library on Second Avenue, which has sat vacant for over a year.

Whitehorse residents are fond of the space and I have had many conversations with constituents about what will happen to this centrally-located, bright, accessible space with parking and a bus stop nearby. With good planning, it could become an anchor for that area of downtown.

I suggested back in July that it might be a good space for the Insured Health Services offices, which are currently located on the fourth floor of a nearby building. The elevator in that building is known for being out of order on a regular basis.

A street level location would better serve residents with mobility challenges and demonstrate the inclusive approach the Yukon government says it is trying to take to service delivery. Others have suggested the old library space would be ideal for a childcare facility.

Without any public discussion, the Yukon Party government has decided the old library will be used for Executive Council Office programs.

Another specific issue I raised with the ministers is the design of Yukon Housing buildings. Recently, Housing Minister Scott Kent announced plans to build new seniors housing on Alexander Street.

I suggested that he should speak with prospective occupants before signing off on the design. I have visited many seniors currently living in Yukon Housing units who, although happy to have a place to live, feel little or no consideration was given to design features that would make their units accessible when they were built.

The results include bathtubs that people with mobility challenges cannot get into and out of safely and shelves that are not within a safe reach. It is no surprise that a recent audit of government contracts found a lack of effort to ensure the public receives good value for money.

When government doesn’t meaningfully involve stakeholders in design decisions, their needs often go unmet. It costs much more to fix building deficiencies than it does to do it right the first time.

I encourage Yukoners who believe that government services and housing should be accessible and responsive to community needs to contact ministers Doug Graham, Elaine Taylor, Scott Kent and Wade Istchenko.

Government should be there to serve the people. When it is, we can build a better and more inclusive Yukon for everyone.

Liz Hanson

Leader, Yukon NDP Official Opposition

MLA, Whitehorse Centre

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read