There are plenty of issues facing Whitehorse.
Are you for larger lots, or a sustainable city?
Do you want politicians to explore a curbside blue-box program? A park at McLean Lake? Or waterfront and business development?
There’s something for everyone in this year’s slate of candidates. The problem is pinning down where each stands.
You’ve requested a primer to help you make your decision on Thursday night.
So, here, in a nutshell, are your 12 councillor candidates and two mayoral choices.
The rest is up to you.
AL FEDORIAK has been living in Whitehorse since 1974.
He’s currently retired, but at one point was owner and operator of two city bus companies, A-Line Buses and Diversified Transit.
Shrinking housing lots are one of Fedoriak’s principal campaign issues. The city should be building lots big enough so people aren’t “living like homing pigeons.”
If the city is to densify, Fedoriak believes that it should happen downtown along the clay cliffs where taller buildings wouldn’t be much of an issue.
To boost economic development, Fedoriak suggested creating a “downtown businessmen’s think tank.” The city should also look to the private sector for ways to improve its efficiency, he said.
For instance, the city shouldn’t be pouring money into a transit system when “Yukoners aren’t transit users.” Instead, the city should turn to a ‘dial-a-bus’ service during off-peak hours, said Fedoriak.
BEV BUCKWAY has learned working in city council means leaving a lot of requests on the cutting room floor.
Buckway has been mayor for the last three years and was a councillor for three years previous to that.
She is campaigning on the implementation of the city’s 50-year sustainability plan.
However protecting greenspaces, like McLean Lake, improving transit or instituting curbside recycling program are issues she says she can’t promise.
These issues have to be resolved through the Official Community Process and through the will of the people.
If people want to pay more for recycling initiatives and transit, then it’s something the city could consider, she said.
She doesn’t believe the city is facing budgetary problems and the current deficit of $500,000 doesn’t worry her; past years have shown the budget does balance itself, she said.
DOUG GRAHAM has lived in the Yukon his whole life and has sat on council for nine years.
A self-proclaimed “fiscal conservative,” Graham focuses much of his energy on trimming the city’s budget and keeping a watchful eye on land and waterfront development.
Development of the Motorways area could be a huge tax boon for the city, Graham said at last week’s all-candidates’ forum.
He opposes the city supplying services which, he believes, falls outside the city’s mandate. For example, social services is something the city shouldn’t be dabbling in, he said.
The city’s trail network can be used to attract tourists, he said. The city should be taking its cue from communities like Whistler, which receives more money from mountain bikers than it does skiers, he said.
JANET BRAULT (Janbro) believes the city should have a better working relationship with the territorial government.
She has been president of the Hillcrest Community Association for two terms and has a background in tourism.
Having lived in the Yukon for 30 years, Brault thinks the city could be levying its taxes more consistently.
The city should be seeking to increase taxes by one per cent a year rather than the at-random increases people have seen in the last five years, she said.
DAVE STOCKDALE is the definition of institutional memory.
He’s been on council 26 years, having won nine successive council victories.
Stockdale is fired up by the thought of transforming the old Canadian Tire Building into a “one-stop-shop” for people in need. He’s even preliminarily dubbed it the ‘Canadian Tire Building Social Services Centre-the heart of the city.’
He’s in favour of protecting the Mt. McIntyre ski trails and is behind Raven Recyling’s bid to create an eco-centre that would beef up its recycling capabilities.
SKEETER MILLER-WRIGHT has been involved in a number of community organizations since he arrived in 1973.
These include Raven Recycling Society, Frostbite Music Society, Yukon Arts Council and the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment. Of late, he’s been known for the work he’s done to protect the McLean Lake area from a cement batch plant opening up.
Increasing taxes to cover the rising cost of delivering services is a reality that can’t be ignored, he said. But the city should be off-setting some of the tax burden by reducing its mill rates.
Miller-Wright is also a strong advocate of public accountability.
JEANINE MYHRE is vying for a second term on council and is again the youngest face in this year’s race.
Myhre prides herself on her lack of political experience in addition to her “unbiased” stance towards issues that arise on council.
“I’m not afraid to listen to the unpopular or the quiet voice in the crowd,” she said.
Relying on local businesses and services is an important way of keeping money circulating in the city, she said.
She would also like to see the city offering more affordable housing and thinks one way of doing this is encouraging people to sell their houses for less.
FLORENCE ROBERTS is proud of the work council has achieved during her first term as councillor.
Land availability, an issue she ran on in the last election campaign, still remains one of her focuses in addition to creating more housing options in the city.
Roberts considers transit “an ongoing issue” and hopes to continue working through the transit task force recommendations if elected to council again.
RANJ PILLAI believes the territorial government has a larger responsibility to the city.
The Yukon government only transfers $5.5 million a year to the city, not enough, according to Pillai.
Negotiating an increase from the territory is a better solution than increasing taxes, he has said.
Political transparency is important to Pillai who believes the city should have been more outspoken about the recent Takhini North settlement.
Pillai is an instructor at Yukon College and has been a board member of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Society of Yukon and the Whitehorse Elementary School Board.
GRAHAM LANG is a lawyer who has lived in the Yukon his whole life.
“Spiralling taxes” and a transparent budget are key issues for Lang, who likes to refer to himself as a fiscal conservative.
Lang catapulted himself into the race early on by announcing his intention of creating a ward system if elected to council.
“A ward system will help councillors better represent the citizens of Whitehorse,” he said.
Lang would also like to see more affordable housing for young professionals.
DAVE AUSTIN still believes waterfront development is an important issue for the city nine years after serving on council.
But not at the cost of losing the city’s riverboat and First Nation history, he has said.
He wants responsible and sustainable development for the city and believes that “parks and commerce can co-exist.”
He wants higher density downtown and to continue working on transit, which he believes is not a dead issue.
RON SWIZDARYK wants to see the city focusing its development in one area – downtown.
Urban sprawl is costing the city, he said.
“If we keep developing all (land outside the city) taxes will go up because infrastructure costs are expensive.”
His vision is to maintain the historic appearance of the downtown while simultaneously creating more housing options in the core.
One way of doing this is by creating four-storey housing along the clay cliffs.
MICHAEL BUURMAN has lived in Whitehorse for only two years, but he sees a great deal of potential for the city.
Citizens should be shouldering the responsibility of climate change and should be taking action at a local level, he said.
Encouraging community carpooling and bolstering the city’s transit system can decrease our carbon reliance.
A young father with a background in social work, he is the only candidate who lives downtown.
BETTY IRWIN believes dedication and hard work leads to change.
Irwin was one of the founding members of Yukon Women in Trades and Technology and is currently the vice-chair of the Yukon Advisory Council on Women’s Issues.
She promises to apply her more than 20 years experience in the business sector to tailoring and finessing the city’s budget.
But she is the first to acknowledge that city council is more than just finances.
“The city isn’t just roads, sewer and water. It’s a social institution to meet the needs of its members,” she said.
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