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Accusation taints mayoral candidates forum

The audience had barely settled into their seats at the Whitehorse mayoral forum on Wednesday evening when one candidate had already accused another of being responsible for someone's death.

The audience had barely settled into their seats at the Whitehorse mayoral forum on Wednesday evening when one candidate had already accused another of being responsible for someone’s death.

Mandeep Sidhu, Wilf Carter and incumbent mayor Dan Curtis were on hand to answer some questions at the Gold Rush Inn.

The first question to candidates addressed ways in which they would enlist the help of the business community during their term on council.

“As a person who manages a business, it’s amazing to hear Dan Curtis talk about talking to the business community, as he’s been provided information and gone directly against it,” Sidhu began his answer.

“He’s led to the death of one individual, even though he had information which could have stopped that from happening.”

Sidhu continued on with his answer without providing details to support his accusation, leading to many perplexed looks from the audience.

After the forum, Sidhu explained he was talking about the death of a pedestrian last year at a crosswalk on Fourth Avenue.

Sidhu said he had sent e-mails to Curtis outlining several problems, including the need for overhead lights at the same crosswalk on Fourth Avenue.

Curtis replied he’d look into it, Sidhu said, adding that he stood by his accusation.

“He’s responsible - as mayor you have to understand that your decisions do have ramifications,” he said.

“That could have been completely avoided if they (the city) had taken action.”

Curtis said it’s the first time anyone had ever accused him of being responsible for someone’s death.

He admits he did receive a long list of requests from Sidhu, and he passed those on to the city’s traffic committee, who determined the crosswalk was adequate.

Curtis said he’s most disappointed about the accusation “taking up all the air time” instead of the important initiatives discussed at the forum.

“I think it’s a disservice to the citizens, and our community, to address this kind of Jerry Springer stuff,” he said.

“I thought it was very disappointing and in poor taste to bring up something like this.”

The candidates were on their best behaviour for the rest of the evening.

Affordable housing featured among the most discussed issues, as did the relationship between city council and other levels of government.

Some of the evening’s bigger proclamations included Sidhu’s promise not to raise property taxes for three years, if elected.

Addressing the city’s relationship with other levels of government, Curtis said he could pick up the phone and call any number of ministers, all of whom would take his call because of their positive relationship.

To promote the city’s culture and artists, Carter suggested an annual festival where all of Whitehorse’s cultures are represented.

Candidates were also asked for their solutions to help relieve the stresses of downtown parking.

Carter said the city should offer more incentives to get people to ride the bus.

A parkade is another possibility, he added.

Sidhu said vacant lots located in the downtown core, such as the old Dairy Queen building and the former Esso station on Second Avenue, could be turned into parking lots.

“We could have a bus looping around Second and Fourth Avenue all day, as well as a centralized area for bicycles,” he said.

Curtis said ridership was over 440,000 by Sept. 10, with the city anticipating over 600,000 rides by the end of the year.

He anticipates that by next year, all high school students will be using public transit to get to school.

The municipal election takes place on Oct. 15.

Find a round-up of candidate profiles at the Yukon News website.

Contact Myles Dolphin at