Personally, Andrew Smith has been lucky with the housing market. The Whitehorse 30-something bought his first house this year. But he knows that’s not the case for a lot of Whitehorse residents.
That’s why Smith has made housing a key point of his platform in running for Whitehorse City Council this fall.
Smith, who moved to the Yukon from Alberta in 2010, said he knows it’s difficult for younger people in his age bracket to afford homes. He also knows the issue extends to older people trying to downsize and move into affordable homes.
“As people age their housing needs change as well,” he told the News on Aug. 4, citing housing, land use, and fiscal responsibility as his priorities. “We need to make sure that spectrum (of available options) includes the availability for people to downsize and move that housing cycle forward.”
Smith currently works doing policy development, training and implementation of YESAA for the Yukon government. He also serves as co-chair of the Laberge Renewable Resources Council.
He said he thinks the housing issue could be helped by focusing on built-up and existing areas available for development – by not bulldozing to create new land without first examining what’s already available and serviced. There is currently a shortage of building lots in the city — 103 people entered into the lottery for 56 lots in Whistle Bend in April of this year.
He said another of his priorities is fiscal responsibility and ensuring future generations aren’t being unnecessarily saddled with debt as a result of the choices made today. He wants to focus on “good numbers,” working with the existing tax base, and coming up with sustainable plans for infrastructure maintenance and replacement.
There needs to be a balance, he said between planning for the future and highlighting the importance of the day-to-day issues that impact residents.
He said sweeping political attitudes and changes coming into the 21st century have influenced the way people think. He’d like to look at the things closer to home in the Yukon that influence the way people really live.
To him, those are having a safe place to live, that promotes the health and safety of family.
“We can look at broader economic issues and the way popular politics has gone in other parts of the world and look away from that for a second,” he said. “What impacts us day to day?”
Smith said he thinks he’s well-suited to a seat on council because he represents one of the largest demographics in the city — those in their 30s. He said he brings a measured perspective, where he recognizes the complex factors at play in any given issue and can look from multiple angles.
He’s also interested in speaking with a broad swath of residents to find out what works for them. To that end, he said he would aim to do outreach to organizations representing a variety of residents, to find out the best way to engage.
Contact Amy Kenny at firstname.lastname@example.org