Letter to the Editor

Thankful for firefighters and friends We want to thank the many people who helped us with our house fire on December 22 in Riverdale.

Thankful for

firefighters and friends

We want to thank the many people who helped us with our house fire on December 22 in Riverdale.

First and foremost, we thank the Whitehorse fire department for showing up so promptly after our 911 call and for doing such an excellent job in managing the fire.

While the most important objective was obviously putting out the fire and preventing its spread, we are so grateful that the fire department attempted to protect the contents of our home and minimize the damage inside — this was above and beyond what were expecting when we first called 911.

We also appreciate the professionalism and courtesy of the liaison who kept us updated with what was going on. We know that when we called 911, we were asking the firefighters to potentially put their lives on the line, and we’re very thankful no one was hurt.

We would also like to thank our wonderful neighbours who came out on a very cold night to offer us their homes and support, and especially our neighbours across the street who took in our two anxious cats and two hyper dogs.

We wouldn’t have been able to focus on what to do if we weren’t confident that our pets were safe. We’re very lucky to have friends who came to help us patch up some of the damage later that night, and took us and our menagerie in on such short notice. We’ve had quite a bit of time to reflect on how much worse things could have turned out, and we’re so grateful to everyone who helped us on that night.

Having only been in the territory for a year and a half we are still pretty new, but this incident has again shown us why Whitehorse is such an incredible community to live in.

Gavin Gardiner and Jess Heath


A second look

at secondary power

Re Secondary customers powered down (the News, December 24):

While I found the article interesting, there are some apparent inaccuracies contained therein that I feel should be addressed:

It is a condition of any secondary sales contract supplying power for heating that the customer must have alternate means of heating in the event of the secondary power being interrupted.

This requirement is entirely understandable, given the risk of property damage in the event of a secondary power shutdown without alternative heating. As a matter of interest, secondary sales are only available to government or commercial customers; the rest of us who would otherwise qualify in every way are not allowed to purchase secondary power for reasons apparently known only to Yukon Energy.

It is more than a little unfair to describe those who heat with secondary power as experiencing a “double whammy” when their secondary power is interrupted. Since they are buying power more cheaply than the rest of us are allowed for most of the year, their being required to use their backup heat, usually fuel-fired, for a short period in the winter just like the rest of us must do all year long is hardly a “whammy” at all, just an interruption of the break they get compared to the rest of us.

The article also quotes “local climate-change expert” John Streicker as saying. “So the problem is the same,” referring to Yukon Energy forcing customers to burn diesel for backup in order to avoid having to run its own diesel-powered generators.

While in my opinion Streicker has drunk more than a little too deeply of the AGW Kool-Aid, he seems to me to be a competent engineer and I find it very hard to believe that he would have made such a ridiculous claim. It is far more efficient to burn a fuel for heat directly than to try to use it to generate electricity for heat, a fact Streicker undoubtedly knows very well.

For the non-scientifically inclined, the thermal efficiency of a diesel-powered generator is about 30 per cent. That means that 30 per cent of the energy in the fuel is converted to useful electrical energy; the other 70 per cent is waste heat and is normally released to the atmosphere.

Those figures have nothing to do with Yukon Energy and everything to do with thermodynamics and materials science. In comparison, a fired boiler or furnace is normally about 85 per cent efficient at converting the energy in the fuel to useful heat. It should be painfully obvious that if one must use diesel for heating, it would be idiotic to have Yukon Energy burn three litres of diesel to supply you with the same heat you could have had by burning about one litre yourself.

If the hospital, Games Centre and Yukon College have had to burn 272,000 litres of oil due to having their secondary power interrupted, would it have made more sense to have Yukon Energy burn more than 770,000 litres of diesel to keep them on line?

While I certainly have my own less-than-favourable opinions about Yukon Energy’s strategies regarding demand-side management, secondary sales and so on, I have to say I absolutely support their practice of cutting off secondary power once their hydroelectric generating plant reaches its limit. To continue selling secondary power supplied by diesel generators would be wasteful of a precious fuel and would constitute an unwarranted and involuntary subsidy of secondary customers by Yukon Energy’s other customers.


Richard Corbet, P.Eng. (Alberta)

via e-mail

Council mired in ‘hogwash’

A new year is a great time to change direction and start afresh.

One of my hopes for 2009 is to see the end of one of the messier issues in Whitehorse municipal politics. I would like to see the city get the vote on McLean Lake done and move on.

After losing two out of two court battles on the issue, the city plans to continue to fight having a referendum about McLean Lake.

I have read recent documents where the city questions whether it can legally do a referendum and amend our Official Community Plan at the same time. Well I am here to tell you it most certainly can.

It can take as little as 80 days to get an Official Community Plan amendment through the steps needed by the Yukon Municipal Act while it takes about twice as long to do the referendum. There is no reason why the two can’t be done in the same timeline. A vote will either confirm the results of an Official Community Plan consultation or show that the traditional way the city has done these consultations is just a sham.

In the current municipal act, there is no requirement to do a public hearing and then actually follow the direction the public has indicated. The city rarely does.

What a novel process this could be. The city could have meetings, hearings, hear from the public and let us all have our say, present information (hopefully from all sides), and then let us vote to say what we really want to happen at McLean Lake. No one could complain that a small group of self-interested insiders are making decisions for us. It would be like a new day!

Right now it sounds like it won’t happen. The city is planning to go back to court because it is saying it can’t do an Official Community Plan change and a referendum as well. That is hogwash! The high-priced lawyers and bureaucrats who wrote the municipal act were smart enough to make sure it was possible.

In a time where everywhere else is belt-tightening, the city is setting taxpayers up for hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal costs and judgments to protect us from ourselves. I personally would rather pay $10,000 for a vote than hundreds of thousands of dollars to prevent a vote.

I still dream that the council will just get the party started and launch the referendum in the new year, not more court battles. A new year is a great time to dream!


Carole Bookless


Don’t contribute

to animal pain

I am writing about how fur coats are made.

In Superstore, I have seen three different people wearing coats that are made completely out of fur. People should understand how much cruelty to animals is involved in making these coats. It takes lots of animal skins to make one coat.  They get the animal skins by killing healthy animals. These animals should live and die naturally.

Every time I see someone wearing a fur coat, I feel like writing a letter like this one. Fur coats also make me think about how painful the animals’ deaths were. To help save the animals from being made into coats, please do not buy anything made out of fur.

Bela Westfall (Grade 5)



Grateful dog owner

It’s Christmas time and I find myself sitting by a wonderfully warm, flickering, woodstove with our dog Joey sleeping peacefully with his head on my foot.

Thank you so much to the caring, thoughtful, professional people at Alpine Veterinary Clinic for this lovely Christmas Eve.

Joey has spent everyday of his four and half years on this planet by my side and I really couldn’t imagine a Christmas without him.

Thank you to Helen and all of the dedicated people that helped with my boy. You really do make the Yukon a better place for our four-legged friends, as well as for the rest of us, much more fragile, two-legged creatures.

John and Bernadette Witham

Grizzly Valley