have a choice
On June 22, Whitehorse will have its first citizen-initiated referendum.
Voters in Riverdale, Marwell and downtown will vote at the Royal Canadian Legion, while most others will vote at the Canada Games Centre.
For many, the advance poll on June 15 at city hall, will be more convenient.
It is important to understand what brought about the referendum and what will be the result of the referendum.
Plans by Whitehorse to destroy protected areas, and the city’s lack of meaningful consultation, caused the referendum.
The city thumbed its nose at residents, suggesting it didn’t matter if an area was protected or if people were upset.
Residents who had spent years working with the city to have areas protected felt violated, angry and frustrated.
Other residents, in areas that had little protected greenspace, felt cheated.
Where was their greenspace?
Still others, whose comments were ignored, were furious. The planning process in Whitehorse is broken.
The broken process has led to development being stalled.
The city’s insistence on developing protected areas, while other easily developable land stands vacant, has put the building industry in a panic as lots disappear.
In an effort to address these issues, a referendum was started.
One question, which is being passed by council, will put an end to the threat of development in protected areas unless Whitehorse citizens agree to that development.
Existing greenspace will be protected.
The other question looks at the process for identifying new greenspaces. This question will go to a vote.
What will happen if the referendum passes?
There is lots of guessing, but there are some certainties. One certainty is that greenspace will be a factor in new development.
Rather than only protecting the land that no one else wants — land for wildlife, education, recreation, trails, etc., will be identified first.
Another certainty is that the city will really know what voters think.
Now, 100 people can show up at a meeting, or 2,500 can sign a petition and council still says that their opinions don’t count.
With this bylaw, the city can’t silence voters.
Whitehorse speculates that the sky will fall down if this bylaw passes. It will not.
Lot prices will not go through the roof due to this bylaw.
They may rise due to the fact that the new plans between YTG and the city allow them to sell lots at the higher market rate, not just for the actual cost of putting in the lots.
Including greenspace in new developments will not make for a shortage of lots.
Lots may be hard to find due to the poor planning of Whitehorse.
It has stalled any development in areas, such as the Porter Creek lower bench, while it tries to put houses around the corner in the McIntyre Creek greenspace.
First-time buyers and low-income residents will not go broke due to this bylaw.
The Yukon and federal government have a mandate to address their needs.
However, first-time buyers and low-income residents will have access to greenspace, just like their more affluent neighbours.
Will contractors simply stop building if we pass this bylaw?
Predictions of lack of lots, higher prices and contractors going broke were made when Toronto and Ottawa made greenspace plans — but the predictions never came true.
You have a chance to participate in history.
This is the first test of the referendum process in the Yukon on a grand scale. Whether 10, or 100, or 1,000 people vote — the vote is still valid.
Let’s make this a good vote. Come out in large numbers and have your voice heard on June 15 or 22.
Power to the people
Open letter to Ted Kennedy, chief of staff, CBC English Radio re CBC AM broadcasting services at Watson Lake, Yukon:
May I thank you for your informative February 25 response to my letter of October 30 and your follow-up phone call, both relating to our area request for the upgrading of CBC facilities at Watson Lake, Yukon.
Over the past month, I have carefully considered the several difficulties you have outlined in attempting to even consider undertaking such a substantial project at this time, and can now only agree with your reasoning.
I have had the opportunity to speak with many affected people residing in fringe areas around Watson Lake, and we now can understand some of the financial, and other concerns you have outlined.
As a key communication and supply centre for a very large geographical area, Watson Lake is about to experience a rapid upswing in its economy, primarily as a result of a new and substantial manufacturing enterprise.
There is also positive activity relating to early development of some area heavy metal deposits to production levels.
In this regard, I have been assured, by municipal authorities, that adequate services, including town site lots, sewer and water, hydro, etc, are available to accommodate any sudden increase in population growth.
In light of the foregoing, we would respectfully request that, recognizing there are no alternative public broadcasting services available to the municipality at this time, the corporation consider placing our initial proposal as high as possible on its current list of priorities.
We would also ask that, in the interim, the output power at the existing Watson Lake transmitter site be marginally increased from its current 40 watts to at least 100 watts, thereby providing improved services to a many more area residents,
On behalf of area residents, I would like to express our gratitude for your forthright assessment of our dilemma, as well as your expression of the corporation’s position and objectives in this important matter.
In conclusion, we sincerely trust that the corporation will look favourably upon our interim request for a small-output power increase at the existing site, and that it will be implemented at the earliest possible time.
Don E. Taylor