Secretive city needs oversight

Secretive city needs oversight Recently, council approved, without discussion, an agenda item billed as "Comprehensive Funding Agreement." The obscure term is the way Whitehorse chose to describe a couple of mysterious Firesmart pilot projects and an

Recently, council approved, without discussion, an agenda item billed as “Comprehensive Funding Agreement.”

The obscure term is the way Whitehorse chose to describe a couple of mysterious Firesmart pilot projects and an evaluation of Firesmart projects, funded by the federal government.

My sense is that the pilot projects Clive Sparks described (one is adjacent to the McLean Lake Road, the second is an area between MacRae and the Yukon River), as attempting a more “efficient” approach with “heavy equipment” could have something to do with extreme proposals in the Whitehorse West fuel-management plan.

These suggested converting coniferous forests to primarily deciduous, and treatment boundaries greater than the norm. It seemed to me at the time it was proposed that it would result in a landscape so altered it would appear agricultural.

But I can only speculate, because I was told the plan itself was only a draft and could not be released to the public.

Apparently it never was.

I’ll leave it to others to ask the obvious questions – such as a more precise description of the work; why pilot projects are being conducted before or simultaneously with an evaluation; a more complete and less dismissive response to the ATV problem than Doug Graham accepted; and, hey, what about the alleged green space plan? Shouldn’t these things be integrated?

What I can say with certainty is that it’s become ever more difficult to find out what the city is up to lately.

This project came in under the public health and safety committee. It didn’t form a bylaw and, for some reason, though it covers dozens, if not hundreds, of hectares of public lands, isn’t considered a land-use issue. So Sparks can have his way with the landscape with no need to inform the public or allow the public a chance to respond, other than through the council meetings.

Since the planning department’s fingerprints usually show up on just about everything, including voter registration and the threat that CBC’s AM signal will be stripped from the entire Yukon, their absence in this case is conspicuous.

Whitehorse council has not posted current minutes on their website for months. Most of the material that should simply be posted online, and/or made available for pickup, such as council minutes, and various reports, has to be requested from city administration. In effect, this makes accessing public documents about city business equivalent to making an ATIPP request.

The city is more forthcoming with council and senior administration minutes. But a large, even unreasonable, number of those meetings are in camera, so that’s not saying much.

The only documentation of council meetings lately is the video. The video for the council meeting of July 6, when Clive Sparks presented it, wasn’t available till July 14 Ð the day after council voted to let him do it.

This careless, even furtive, treatment of the public record serves as another way to inhibit the public participation that is a fundamental principle of the Yukon Municipal Act.

Of course, the 10 people or so currently running things at city hall have been emphatic that they have no use for that aspect of the legislation, and so far have been permitted to cherry-pick their way through which parts of the act they like to be governed under.

Let’s hope they’ll have to answer for their attitude during the upcoming election.

Marianne Darragh

Whitehorse

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

Just Posted

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Submitted
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read