Following a recent visit to Watson Lake by your reporter James Munson, and publication of his findings, I am hearing expressions of gratitude along with growing expectations for future change in government throughout the community.
Hopefully his independent observations will be a forerunner of other investigations to follow.
Yukon citizens can now understand the well-concealed truth about what this area has been enduring at the hands of the Dennis Fentie/Archie Lang government. Anticipating the election of an honest and transparent new future government, Watson Lake can now afford to be optimistic about when it will able to begin the long road to recovery.
Millions of federal dollars were provided to YTG for Yukon infrastructure programs since 2006, but few of these funds were allotted to Watson Lake. Hopefully, whenever the current Yukon Party administration is finally removed from office, a succeeding government will feel obligated to appreciate the negative effects those fiscal denials have had upon the town, seriously retarding what, today, should have been a community offering a vibrant economy and social structure.
It will take years and substantial funding to assist Watson Lake in recovering from such a long period of government neglect. To compensate for substantial amounts of lost funding over past years, in addition to regular annual budget allotments it would only be fair that a new elected government should give consideration to establishing a separate five-year Watson Lake Infrastructure Fund, providing up to $8 million dollars, or more, per year. This would also allow the community to accelerate its restoration, indirectly benefiting every part of the territory in the process.
With careful planning and execution, long-deferred objectives, including sewer and water requirements along with a host of other infrastructure programs, could now become a reality.
If approved by council, design and engineering for new residential subdivisions and a main-street-styled business district could also be undertaken.
Sadly, until existing monopolies controlling sales of food, clothing and medicine are dismantled, the local economy will likely remain in decline.
On a more optimistic note, if a new Yukon government would be prepared to support reasonable requests from the council of Watson Lake and area residents, they could certainly set out the welcome mat for new free-enterprises and people wishing to settle and become a part of our community.
In the meantime, thanks again to the Yukon News for your invaluable assistance to the people of Watson Lake.
Donald E. Taylor, citizens’ advocate