Cathers and city will try to work together

If Whitehorse city council couldn't work with Minister Brad Cathers on Monday, it seems today it is willing to try. Councillors unanimously passed a motion this week.

If Whitehorse city council couldn’t work with Minister Brad Cathers on Monday, it seems today it is willing to try.

Councillors unanimously passed a motion this week calling on Premier Darrell Pasloski to remove Cathers from the Yukon Housing Corporation and Community Services files.

Mayor Dan Curtis accused Cathers of disrespect in his dealings with the municipality.

The premier spoke to the issue in a news release Wednesday. He does not directly address confidence in Brad Cathers or if the government would consider shuffling him to a different position.

“This government operates as a team,” said Pasloski. “We presented ourselves as a team during the 2011 election campaign and that’s exactly what we continue to deliver to Yukoners. Our team, including Minister Brad Cathers, has worked together to accomplish great things to date, and there’s more to come. There may be disagreements from time to time, but it’s essential to keep the discussion professional and respectful, and not to personalize debate.”

The premier’s response was “predictable,” said the mayor in an interview Thursday.

“He’s going to stick up for his team, just like I would. We’re very like-minded that way. You’re only as good as your team. That’s exactly what I would have done.”

But the resolution was a strong statement that things cannot continue the way they have.

“Whatever that government decides to do, we still have really really important pressing issues that we have no choice to work together on, and I look forward to working together, but I want the opportunity to work together and the have the dialogue and the mutual respect,” said Curtis.

The issue is not personal, he said.

“I’m not upset. I’m not angry. I’m just concerned that the actions of this minister have not been proper protocol for the way one government works with another. I would just like him to work with me to address our issues that we have that address the concerns of all our citizens.”

Cathers and Curtis have a meeting scheduled for today to discuss several issues.

Neither Pasloski nor Cathers have responded to interview requests this week.

Cathers said in a news release, “It is disappointing that the mayor and council have chosen to take this unusual approach, especially when our government has worked hard to ensure a cooperative and open relationship with the City of Whitehorse and other municipalities.”

Liberal Leader Sandy Silver asked the premier if he has confidence in the minister during question period on Thursday.

Pasloski did not answer the question.

We know agreement on challenging issues is not always possible, but it is our job as elected officials to solve problems and not to create new ones,” he said.

“Now the approach that was taken by the City this week was disappointing, because really what it does is it polarizes and it personalizes issues that are important to this territory.

“Yukoners expect their leaders to work together to find solutions. Ultimately, I’m confident we will find ways to move ahead together, because all of us are working on behalf of Yukoners.”

The Yukon Residential Landlord Association has come out in defence of Cathers and to criticize the position taken by the City of Whitehorse.

Cancelling planned affordable housing projects for Whitehorse was a good move on Cathers’s part, wrote Annette Truitt-Avoledo, the association’s president, in a letter to the mayor that was also shared with media.

“We commend Minister Cathers for his ability to see the flaws with the previously proposed (Northern Housing Trust) projects and are grateful that he had the courage to put a halt to the misspending of the funds, and pursue a plan to use the funds more effectively,” according to the letter.

The methodology for collecting rental statistics in the Yukon has recently changed to include all rental types, not only buildings with three or more units.

With this new calculation, Yukon’s vacancy rate is 7.1 per cent, according to the most recent statistics.

This is a more accurate representation of the rental market, the landlord association said.

But the city maintains that affordable sections of the rental market are still squeezed, according to a letter in response to the association.

Vacancy rates for townhouses, detached homes, apartments and mobile homes are between 0.9 and 2.7 per cent.

Affordable housing is available to those who are willing to adjust their expectations, the landlord association said.

“People who can’t afford it should not expect to obtain new units or housing in the prime downtown locations, when there are more affordable and practical units available a short distance away from the higher-rated downtown area. Is that not why taxpayers contribute to the public transit fund, so that people can commute to various areas of the city? This is a very common situation in cities across Canada where people commute from more affordable outside areas to obtain ‘affordable housing’ without the government funding them.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wyatt's World for Oct. 28, 2020.

Wyatt’s World for Oct. 28.… Continue reading

Yukon Child Care Board chair Amy Ryder says the board could be playing a bigger role in childcare policy making if they had more financial support from the Yukon government. (Submitted)
Yukon Child Care Board asks for larger role in annual report

The board is asking for a larger budget to increase outreach and advice

Yukon’s clocks will no longer change in March and November but will remain permanently on Pacific Daylight Saving Time. (Courtesy Yukon government)
Off the clock: Yukon prepares to end seasonal time changes

Starting on Nov. 1 Yukon will be one hour ahead of Vancouver and two hours ahead of Alaska

Dawson City as scene from West Dawson. Art Webster, the vice-chair of the Dawson Regional Planning Commission resigned last month over the Yukon governments unwillingness to pause speculative staking. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Vice-chair resigns from Dawson land-use planning commission

NDP warns that not pausing mining activity is the road to a second Peel decision

The opening ceremonies of the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg on July 28, 2017. The 2021 Canada Summer Games have officially been rescheduled for Aug. 6 to 21, 2022, exactly one year from the date the national competition was originally set to take place in the Niagara region of Ontario. (Canada Summer Games/Flickr)
Canada Summer Games dates set for 2022 but uncertainty remains for Yukon athletes

Yukon athletes continue waiting to get back into schools

A proposed Official Community Plan amendment would designate a 56.3 hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. Whitehorse city council passed first reading on a bylaw for the designation change at its Oct. 26 meeting, prompting an upcoming public hearing on Nov. 23 ahead of second reading on Dec. 7. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
Local contractors will be given an advantage on a contract for the design and construction services that will see a new reception building at Robert Service Campground decided city councillors during the Oct. 26 council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local firms will get advantage on contract for new Robert Service Campground building

Yukon-based companies competing for contract for new reception building will receive 20 extra points

Fallen trees due to strong winds are seen leaning on to power lines which caused some power outages around the territory on Oct. 26. (Courtesy of ATCO)
Wind knocks out power around the Yukon

High winds on Oct. 26 knocked out power to Faro, parts of Whitehorse and beyond

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over the Takhini elk herd be struck by the court. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Yukon government asks for Takhini elk lawsuit to be struck

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over… Continue reading

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging the reduction of its caribou quota to zero. (Yukon News file)
YG replies to outfitter’s legal challenge over caribou quota

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging… Continue reading

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this year, saying that with COVID-19, it’s “more important than ever.” (Black Press file)
Get flu vaccine, Yukon government urges

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read