Action plan announced to help city’s vulnerable

The City of Whitehorse and the Kwanlin Dun First Nation are working together to create a comprehensive action plan in the hopes of ending homelessness in the territory.

The City of Whitehorse and the Kwanlin Dun First Nation are working together to create a comprehensive action plan in the hopes of ending homelessness in the territory.

Mayor Dan Curtis, Chief Doris Bill and Premier Darrell Pasloski were at city hall yesterday morning to make the announcement.

Few details about the action plan were made available, however. Curtis said it would likely be produced in the upcoming fiscal year but did not provide a specific date as to when that would happen, nor when the plan would be implemented.

The announcement is the next step in the Vulnerable People at Risk initiative, which began last April when almost 300 people attended a forum at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre to brainstorm ways to address the issues facing the city’s most vulnerable people.

It continued in September when some of the city’s business leaders, including representatives from the Westmark Hotel and the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, brainstormed ideas on how they could help.

In mid-September, both Curtis and Bill made a plea for assistance from the Yukon government to step in and help create affordable and sustainable housing in the territory.

“I’m pretty exasperated,” Curtis said at the time.

“We need some affordable housing in the short-term. All we can do is keep on saying the situation is dire, it hasn’t gone away, it’s just not affordable.”

At yesterday’s announcement, Pasloski said the territorial government would help fund the action plan, as well as a youth forum to be held in the near future.

“Poverty and homelessness are complex issues that cannot be resolved by any one government or agency alone,” he said.

He also mentioned the government was doing its part by investing $21 million to build a new detox and inpatient drug and alcohol treatment centre in downtown Whitehorse.

It is also partnering with the Ta’an Kwach’an Council and its business arm to build affordable housing units in the Whistle Bend subdivision.

The three governments will also work in partnership to try and attract some much-needed infrastructure funds from the federal government.

Curtis said he and Bill were in Ottawa recently and they managed to speak with Amarjeet Sohi, the federal minister of infrastructure and communities.

Bill said she extended an invitation for Sohi to visit the territory and see first-hand what Whitehorse’s infrastructure and affordable housing issues are.

Another project planned for the near future is a point-in-time count to be held over a 24-hour period during the week of April 11. It will count homeless individuals as well as those who are at risk of becoming homeless.

The information will be used to inform the development and future evaluation of the action plan. The count is one of the recommendations made during the business roundtable session in September.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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