Open Letter to Premier Darrell Pasloski:
The time has come to turn your attention toward a new strategy for dealing with Yukon’s housing crisis, not only for Whitehorse, but for every community in Yukon.
As an experienced realtor and former land developer, it has become clear to me that Yukon’s current housing strategy is not working.
Historically, the Yukon territorial government has been both the landowner and the developer responsible for planning new residential subdivisions and completing the infrastructure work to develop raw land into serviced residential lots.
Over the past decade, some of these responsibilities have been transferred to Whitehorse, but the fundamental problem still remains. The private sector is not yet involved in every stage of land development.
Many recommendations for dealing with Yukon’s lack of adequate and affordable housing have been made over the years. The Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce has compiled a comprehensive list of recommendations, comments and stakeholder input. The following symptoms are a summary of the key issues that can and should be acted on.
Land development in the Yukon has become perceived as a political process based on the following realities:
Â¥ Private sector developers cannot purchase parcels of land for free market development.
Â¥ The cost for an empty residential lot is based on market value.
Â¥ There is an insufficient inventory of serviced residential lots in Whitehorse and in rural Yukon.
Â¥ Bylaws, regulations and other restrictions increase the cost and risk to developers when considering multi-residential housing projects.
Â¥ Government continues to maintain its monopoly on land development, which drives up the cost and slows down development.
Â¥ The Yukon’s Landlord and Tenant Act is out of date and effectively acts as a disincentive to private-sector developers.
The Yukon is in the midst of a housing crisis and it’s getting worse.
We need to empower the private sector to help solve this problem. We need to allow private sector developers access to blocks of raw land and provide incentives for them to develop priority housing projects such as apartment buildings that feature a variety of affordable suites.
We need to review and amend Yukon’s Landlord and Tenant Act to include adequate protection for developers as well as landlords and tenants. We need to rethink Yukon’s housing strategy and be prepared to make different choices.
The seriousness of this crisis is apparent:
there are young families who hope to buy their own home some day, but cannot afford one under the current market conditions; there are professionals such as doctors, businesspeople and tradespeople who have expressed interest in moving here, but decide against it, because Yukon’s growing housing crisis makes it difficult for them to find a home that meets their needs; there are people camped out on the lawn at the Yukon Legislative Assembly because they have nowhere to live; mining companies are forced to fly their employees back and forth from other jurisdictions because they cannot find suitable housing in the Yukon. It is a frustrating situation for everyone involved.
If nothing changes, Yukon’s housing crisis will get worse and it will be even more difficult to find adequate and affordable housing.
Arthur Mitchell, leader of the official Opposition
Yukon Liberal Caucus