Candidate wants lower taxes, more housing options

Philippe Praprotnik wants to treat serving on city council like being part of a big family. That means being transparent and keeping spending in check.

Philippe Praprotnik wants to treat serving on city council like being part of a big family.

That means being transparent and keeping spending in check.

The 48-year-old is running for a seat on Whitehorse city council in the upcoming municipal election.

Keeping taxes to a minimum ranks high on his list of priorities.

As it stands, Whitehorse homeowners and businesses saw a 1.7 per cent increase in their property taxes last year, and the same increase this year.

That corresponds to an additional $29 a year for homeowners and an extra $561 for business owners.

Praprotnik said that’s too high, and the city’s spending habits are partly to blame.

He said the property tax increase is more than the rate of inflation, which was at 1.3 per cent in August, according to Statistics Canada.

“My approach is the same as a family budget. If we don’t have the money, we can’t borrow any.”

When the city unveiled its operating budget in December, the inflation rate was at 1.5 per cent.

If elected, Praprotnik also wants to work on the issue of affordable housing in the city.

The solutions will likely come from residents, he said, as well as partnerships with other levels of government.

Maybe the city could organize citizen forums similar to the town hall forums that mayor and council held on a monthly basis, he said.

“With big projects, we can’t decide alone,” he added.

“We have to ask citizens for their input. They don’t vote for us to have us decide everything for them.”

Praprotnik mentioned the possibility of turning vacant lots and abandoned buildings downtown into affordable housing units.

Some of the funds allocated towards the city’s plan to spend $56 million over the next three years to build two new headquarters for its staff could have been used for affordable housing, he said.

“Yes, we might need new buildings, but we could also fix the current ones,” he said, “just like you’d do at your own home.”

“That ($56 million) is a lot for our city. I think some of it could have been used for other infrastructure, including housing.”

Praprotnik is also keen to tackle the issue of solid waste management.

In 2013, the city announced its plans to divert 50 per cent of waste from the landfill by the end of 2015.

By June this year, waste diversion at the landfill was up to 33 per cent, but members of city council have already conceded they won’t reach 50 per cent by the end of the year.

Praprotnik said he doesn’t understand why it costs him $25 to get rid of a printer at the landfill, when he already pays for an environmental handling fee upon purchase.

“I don’t think that’s fair,” he said, adding there’s nowhere to recycle used batteries.

“I don’t have all the background yet, but I do know there are trucks bringing stuff into the landfill, and driving back south empty. Maybe it should be a law for them to bring stuff down with them.”

Praprotnik is the Yukon manager for the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires, a security company.

He and his wife, Emma, moved to Canada about 10 years ago from Paris, France.

They lived in northern Quebec, where Praprotnik worked as a caribou guide, before moving to the Yukon almost six years ago.

“The space and wilderness brought us here,” he said, “but also the climate.”

“We have real seasons here.”

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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