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Chamber turns crimefighter

Shoplifters beware — retailers are about to put a lot more energy into stopping you.Next week, the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and the…

Shoplifters beware — retailers are about to put a lot more energy into stopping you.

Next week, the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and the Yukon Justice department will unveil the Sustainable Crime-Prevention Strategy for the business community.

Months of brainstorming have resulted in a detailed plan on how to beef up security and help business owners stop robberies, break-and-enters and internal theft.

“This initiative will provide a set of procedures and internal organizational tools that businesses can use every single day to assist their employees and to help their business reduce losses from crime,” said Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce president Rick Karp on Thursday.

“It’s very important to the business community, and to the community at large, that we get involved in crime prevention in the short and the long term — and that we get proactive.”

Over the past few years, concerns have been raised by certain Whitehorse business owners about theft, said Karp.

That led to the partnership with Justice.

There was a series of meetings throughout the summer and the creation of a special committee involving representatives from the city, RCMP and the youth justice branch of the department of Health and Social Services.

The result is a comprehensive strategy that will be rolled out starting next week.

Several brochures and pamphlets are to be distributed throughout the city.

One document, a 14-page “security checklist,” itemizes all the things a business owner can do to prevent theft.

“People can go through it and say, ‘OK, do we lock our windows at night, how much cash do we leave in the till, do we have security systems, what are our procedures?’” said Karp.

The checklist will also address internal theft, such has how to prevent employees from stealing, and other internal problems including flaws in inventory counts and supplier invoicing.

A “quick-reference flip chart” will make it easier for new entry-level clerks to learn proper emergency procedures.

The strategy also promotes the use of “victim-impact statements” by business owners.

“It will give the courts an idea of what the cost of a business crime actually is,” said YTG crime prevention officer Phil Treusch, who has been assigned to the project by the Justice department.

“It’s not just the item that is taken — much more is involved,” such as escalated insurance costs, damage to infrastructure, loss of customers and traumatized staff, he said.

The initiative is a precautionary measure and not a “knee-jerk reaction” to any escalation in business-related crime, said Karp

“We want to make it very clear that Whitehorse is indeed a safe place to live and to shop,” he said.

The chamber, which represents more than 450 Whitehorse businesses and 3,500 employees, is working on finalizing commitments from other partners for the project.

Karp said he hopes they will join their committee, which is to meet on a regular basis.

More information on the strategy will be available at the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce’s annual general meeting on August 29th at the Yukon Inn at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $25.

City sells riverfront land

The city is selling $1.8 million worth of waterfront land to the Yukon government, council heard from its administration Tuesday.

The proceeds will go towards the city’s financial contribution to the 2007 Canada Winter Games athlete’s village.

The land consists of two lots covering more than one hectare of Motorways property along the riverfront.

It was purchased by the city from the White Pass and Yukon Route in 1994 and is now part of a riverfront development concept plan, to be executed after the Games finish in February.

The Yukon government has not yet indicated what they intend to do with the land, said city manager Dennis Shewfelt on Thursday.

“I don’t know whether they are actually going to build something that’s government owned or if they’re going to sell the property to somebody else,” he said.

“I don’t think they know yet, to be honest, but whatever is proposed there will have to fit into the overall waterfront plan.”

Under a multi-party agreement made with the 2007 Canada Games Host Society, the city has committed to make up to a $2 million contribution towards the capital expenditures of the athlete’s village.

To raise the money, the city struck a deal with the territorial government to sell the waterfront property.

Council will give first reading to an agreement of the sale on Monday.

The final cost of the athlete’s village, originally estimated at $20.8 million, came to a total of $31.4 million.

Council showdown

Administrative formalities turned to bickering Tuesday evening as council members butted heads over the treatment of a city staff member.

During a presentation on a proposed child-care centre at 710 Jarvis Street, councillor Doug Graham gave councillor Dave Stockdale an earful for arguing with acting city planning manager Mike Gau.

Stockdale disagreed with analysis compiled by the planning department.

It said a day care was compatible with downtown residential zoning, that it would not set a precedent for other businesses moving into the area and that it was better to put day cares in residential zones than in commercial zones.

Stockdale questioned Gau on the logic of several aspects of his presentation.

“Why are you arguing with him?” interrupted Graham.

“If you want to make the point, it’s a council decision whether or not we go ahead with this conditional use.

“It’s not an administrative decision — if you want to make your arguments, make them to council.”

“I’m just asking questions so that, in my own mind, I’m clear in my opinion as to why this should not go ahead,” replied Stockdale.

“Well then, ask those questions, don’t argue,” said Graham.

“I am asking those questions,” snapped Stockdale.

An argument ensued in front of the mayor, council and senior city administrators while Gau sat shaking his leg in the centre of the room.

Stockdale then proceeded to ask Gau more questions before declaring his opposition to the day care proposal.

“Anyway,” he said, “I’m totally opposed to this.”

“No kidding,” mumbled Graham.

Stockdale’s inquisition closely resembled a verbal assault by Graham on city recreation manager Linda Rapp several weeks ago over membership passes at the Canada Games Centre.

Graham said Thursday he still hadn’t made up his mind on which way to vote for the day-care proposal.

Council will vote on it on Monday.