After 12 years on Whitehorse city council, Dave Austin is not ready to slow down. And he has a big idea to speed up traffic downtown: one-way streets on Second and Fourth avenues.
“It would certainly move traffic along faster,” he said. “I’ve talked to the Emergency Measures people, they think it’s a great idea. It may cause some grief with the transit system, but I’m sure we could work those things out.”
Austin is seeking his fifth term on council.
“It gets into your blood after a while,” he said.
Whitehorse will get a new mayor and at least two new councillors this fall, and Austin believes that having experience on council is important, he said.
“The learning curve on this job is fairly steep, and you’re in there a year before you even start to understand what you’re doing.”
One of the big accomplishments over his time as councillor was the improvements to the transit system, he said.
“Ridership is up,” Austin said. “I never before took the bus to work. I take it every day now, because it stops in front of my house in Crestview, and it stops right out here outside the government building 25 minutes later. So, hey, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
Austin defends council’s decision to ban dogs from city-run buildings, noting that affected groups are being given help to find other solutions. But he would also like to see Whitehorse open an outdoor dog park.
“Many other cities have them, and they work like a hot damn, if you don’t mind me saying so.”
Austin identified one of the baseball diamonds off the South Access Road as a suitable location. It is overgrown and hasn’t been used in years, he said.
The area is already fully fenced in, and the dugouts provide seating and shelter for dog walkers, said Austin.
Austin also said it may be time for council to revisit the issue of Porter Creek D. The proposed subdivision has generated controversy over whether the area around McIntyre Creek should be developed or protected.
Austin pointed to the recent lottery at Whistle Bend, where only 26 of the 90 available single-family lots received bids.
“It’s not an indicator that there’s a shortage of lots,” Austin said.
Setting aside Porter Creek D as a park is one option that council could look at. But Austin isn’t pushing for any particular solution. He just wants the question reconsidered, he said.
The long time councillor is always open to feedback and wants residents to know that he is ready to work for them.
“I still have the energy and interest in doing the job. I always listen to people. The only time I object to people talking to me on city business is if I’m out for dinner with my wife. If I’m out for dinner by myself, feel free.
“With 12 years of experience, I still have at least one good term left in me. And rest assured, if I get re-elected they’ll get a good term out of me.”
Contact Jacqueline Ronson at firstname.lastname@example.org