Aerial view of Carcross, YT. Residents of the unincorporated community are discussing whether a change in governance structure is needed. (Winston Hong/Submitted)

Carcross considers a possible change in governance structure

Residents will have their say during an information-gathering phase contracted out by YG

Carcross residents are to spitball whether a change in governance structure is needed.

Spurred by the South Klondike Local Advisory Council in collaboration with Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN), the Yukon government has put out a request for proposals looking for someone to gauge the thoughts and feelings of residents about whether a potential changeover is warranted.

“Baby steps,” as advisory council chair Colleen James put it, in order to possibly have more control of the unincorporated community’s affairs.

“Anything from dog poop on a beach to all-terrain vehicles,” she said. “Air traffic has increased. Trail traffic has increased. We value the visitors. We like people coming here. We also like clean water. How do we find that balance? There’s frustration that we’re not getting there.

“Now, it just sort of feels like in light of increased population and flux of things going on, where residents might benefit from a little bit more administrative and planning processes towards infrastructure, housing and things like that.”

There are three local governance structures to choose from, said Ben Yu Schott, director of community affairs with the Department of Community Services: the local advisory council model (the status quo); a municipality; or a rural government structure, a blend of the two.

Under the local advisory council model, the Yukon government provides many standard municipal services – water, waste, bylaw, for instance, Yu Schott said. The council has the ear of the minister.

The community would have more jurisdiction as a municipality.

The third option, a rural governance structure, doesn’t exist in the territory, Yu Schott said.

“It depends on what the community wants. We’re helping them facilitate that conversation,” he said.

Recycling, infrastructure needs and managing tourism, these are some of things on people’s minds that could be managed better, James said.

“A lot of residents feel that we could be recycling a lot more and it doesn’t seem like a thing that’s all that difficult to do,” she said.

While tourism is the community’s “bread and butter,” she said visitors who flock to the area between April and October means more waste.

“It’s building up out there, and we think it could work a lot better, but it can’t in light of being funded for 500 residents.”

According to the work proposal that is part of the tender, the community receives about 300,000 visitors per year.

Tour buses that roll through often kick up dust, doing loops through residential areas to stop by the beach, James said.

Ideas that could help mitigate issues like these are introducing a rickshaw or a guided walking tour, she said.

Piping water into the community from the treatment plant could be another consideration going forward, as residents rely on trucked water currently.

Priorities of the advisory council and C/TFN align, said James, noting that the work to start collecting information on the wants and needs of residents has been endorsed.

“We all have the same needs: housing, infrastructure, pot hole roads, developments and businesses springing up all over the place with no knowledge or consultation of that,” she said.

James said she’s a member of C/TFN.

“We work with what we got and we all do the best that we can. This is about bringing information to the residents and seeing what we can build together.”

To Carcross residents, James said, “Have no fear. This is just an information-gathering thing, and hopefully people start to dialogue a little bit more with each other about the possibilities.”

The tender closes on August 15. The chosen company will be responsible for producing an interim and final report. The contract closes in mid-November.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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