I was pleased to see the story about the kids at Carmacks School building a traditional fish trap.
It is great to see the education system supporting First Nations culture in a real and hands-on manner.
Unfortunately, the article failed to identify the driving force behind the project — Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation lands and resources director Susan Davis.
She consulted with First Nation elders to create the project, presented it to the school and provided important resources to ensure its success.
Of course, this in no way detracts from the efforts of tech ed teacher Peter Menzies and principal Cully Robinson.
Fortunately, they had the vision to embrace the project and do their part to make it happen.
I’m aware that Davis and her department will be working with the kids and elders this summer to install the trap in a traditional salmon stream and put it to use for practical and educational purposes.
Kudos to Davis and the First Nation for this and other innovative land-based programming.
As I understand it, the fish trap project is only part of a much larger plan to support healthy land-based activity for youth and other of the First Nation’s citizens.
I see a thoughtful fusion of traditional and modern values that can only benefit their people and, by association, the territory at large.
Art means business
Re Joe Trerice’s June 26th letter:
Since Joe Trerice has time to write letters, I thought he might also have some time to do a bit of reading.
The Yukon government did an economic impact assessment of the 2005 Longest Days Street Fair, which showed an economic benefit to Main Street retailers.
The assessment is available by request from ASN@yukonbooks.com.
The cultural economy is real. The 2004 Cultural Labour Force Report noted that there are more people working full time in the cultural sector in Yukon than in mining, forestry, oil and gas and agriculture combined … and that’s not counting bureaucrats like me.
That report and others are available at www.yukonartscentre.org.
The Arts and Heritage Village was proposed as an economic development infrastructure project.
Before the decline of the resource sector, government invested in mine roads and power dams.
As the cultural economy grows, governments in Canada and the US are now investing in cultural infrastructure like theatres, galleries, museums and major culturally-themed developments like Granville Island, Winnipeg Forks, Distillery District … the list is very long.
Trerice may think the village is a “fantasy.”
I would agree that the village project will not go ahead as proposed … proposals are, after all, the beginning of a dialogue that we hope will lead to improvements of the original project idea.
I feel sure we will see an increase in cultural spaces on the waterfront and in the downtown area over the next few years.
It will happen because it’s happening everywhere else and it’s good for business.
To understand why it’s good for business, Trerice could read Richard Florida’s Rise of the Creative Class, or his more recent The Flight of the Creative Class. Another good read is The Creative City by Charles Landry.
Most of the context for Artspace North comes from the Creative Cities movement which is now well entrenched in larger cities.
And, sure, we are a conservative little town that usually follows trends rather than set the pace, but creative cities is a trend that is already here and starting to affect our city planning.
Donald Soby of Empire Company, one of Canada’s leading businesspeople, visited the arts centre this year.
He expressed interest in what we were doing downtown with the Arts Underground.
I explained that we were working with some forward-thinking business owners to introduce the concept that a partnership between culture and business can increase the economic viability of the Main Street area.
He smiled and said: “Do you really need to explain that to them? These days, art means business.”
Chris Dray, Yukon Arts Centre executive director
An appreciative customer
In these times of high fuel prices, it is easy to complain about the local suppliers. My experience dealing with the people of North of 60 Petro, however, has impressed me with this company’s good service and professionalism.
It was able, on short notice, to deliver several truckloads of fuel to my placer mine.
This was done on a winter snow road by competent drivers skilled in off-road trucking.
In the past, Yukoners would have taken this capability for granted, but with the changing times and economy a lot of traditional northern knowledge and experience has been disappearing.
North of 60 has made the effort to employ the experienced people and own the equipment necessary to support the Yukon.
In the June 21 issue of the Yukon News, I read with disbelief a column by Chris Dray, titled On the Riverbank.
Dray speaks of two ongoing projects of Artspace North and a vision for a third, the Heritage Village Development Plan.
The first developed project was the Arts Underground in the Hougen Centre.
As I am a local businessman, I commend the Hougen family for donating space to this project.
The Hougen family has been extremely generous to the community for more than 50 years, and the community has been generous in return.
They had a space in their building that, over the years, has seen many incarnations, some successful, some not. Now it’s available to arts groups.
Not only do I believe that this was a generous donation to the Yukon arts community, I suspect the Hougen Group of companies receives a nice annual tax deduction.
The second project is the Longest Day Street Fair, which is currently in its second year. This project, according to the article, is a partnership between Artspace North and the Main Street Yukon Society.
I believe that this also is a worthwhile venture as it creates traffic in the downtown core.
Certainly the tourists enjoy the activity. Whitehorse citizens certainly enjoy the
But that is it. Don’t pretend it is more than that.
Now both of these projects appear to have been successful in their own right, but guess what? It hasn’t cost taxpayers any money.
This cannot be said for the third project and the fantasy rendition supplied by Dray
in his column.
He paints a pretty picture: “At the Arts
and Heritage Village, people visit a café, bookstore, music shop, designer clothing outlet and artist-run gallery and craft market”
Who has committed to lease this space?
Given the cost of building, according to the published proposal, these businesses would have to pay more than $40 a square foot — almost twice the current cost for any location that these businesses may currently be leasing — to support the cost of the project.
Or will the taxpayer pick up the difference?
The article then comments on the second-storey studio spaces for such activities as yoga, martial arts and palates.
Can these groups afford to pay the higher rents, or are we, as taxpayers, expected to foot this bill as well?
We can already see how much the mega-dollar indoor soccer field is being used.
I would say that the soccer groups have spoken on that subject, seeing that the FH Collins fields don’t cost anything and have been very well utilized the past few weekends with tournaments.
But that is OK, the taxpayers will pay for the empty one in the Canada Games Centre.
If you think that the yoga, martial arts and palates groups are any different than the soccer groups, you are living in a fantasy world.
Dray further says in the article, “The views of the river and city are inspiring.”
I agree, they are inspiring!
So tell me, have your read the proposal for the Heritage Village Development your organization commissioned?
What did I see in the proposal?
I saw huge buildings that blocked the inspiring view of the river.
I saw buildings that were two, or more storeys in high — that blocked the afternoon sun from shining on the proposed new wharf.
I saw walking paths that would see very little sunshine and would be too cold for the better part of the year to walk on or sit and admire the inspiring buildings, as the view of the river was blocked off.
We live in a town of about 24,000 people. Our community tax base is only a little over 10,000.
We cannot afford this project.
I don’t care where the money comes from — Whitehorse, the territory or our fellow taxpayers from the rest of Canada.
Once it is built, we have to live with it and pay for it.
The Heritage Village Development Plan, as it was presented, will cost $16.9 million.
Well we have seen how well our governments have been at pricing out projects.
You only have to look at the Canada Games Centre and the Athletes’ Village to understand where this is going.
I believe there is a financially viable alternative for the portion of the waterfront that is slated for the Heritage Village.
Naturally it would have to be scaled down and any venture that would occupy the space would have to be self-sustaining.
This would mean viable businesses that can afford the rent.
It would mean less intrusive buildings that do not obscure the waterfront.
It is time some of these projects be scrutinized by successful business people with a sense of financial responsibility.
Unfortunately, we have too many projects being managed by career bureaucrats that have only had to worry about spending the money without any personal responsibility as to how it is earned.