City may provide funding for family’s transit, CGC passes
Transit and Canada Games Centre passes could be granted for one year to a family of refugees who arrived in the Yukon in March.
At Whitehorse city council’s Nov. 2 meeting, Jeff O’Farrell, the city’s director of community and recreation services, brought forward a recommendation that council approve the grant — worth $2,617 — to purchase the transit and CGC passes for the family for a one-year period with the funding to come from council’s donation account.
As O’Farrell explained in his report, the request for the transit and CGC passes came from Yukon Cares, a local organization that welcomes and supports refugees. The organization has sponsored 25 refugees who have come to Whitehorse in recent years, including the newest family to arrive in March.
The family includes a mother and her three children originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They had been in South Africa before being granted asylum in Canada.
Yukon Cares requested monthly adult and youth transit passes for a year, adding that the family “would be grateful if passes to the Canada Games Centre would also be granted.”
O’Farrell acknowledged the request is coming months after the family’s arrival in the city, but as he explained, “the family was following restrictions for COVID-19 and their passes would be put to better use once they could take full advantage of the services and facilities the city has to offer.”
O’Farrell also noted the city has provided both transit and CGC passes for one year to refugee families arriving in Whitehorse in the past.
“Since the inception of Yukon Cares in 2016, the City of Whitehorse has provided the organization with grants to access city services in an amount totalling just under $16,000,” he said.
Coun. Laura Cabott confirmed the donations account has the funds required for the passes with Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu highlighting the importance of residents having the opportunity to take part in recreation and community events, suggesting this is a good cause.
Council will vote on whether to approve the grant for the passes Nov. 9.
Food for Fines
‘Tis the season for Whitehorse city council to start thinking about where fines for expired meters will go during the holiday season.
City of Whitehorse bylaw supervisor Kyle Morrison brought forward a recommendation to Whitehorse city council on Nov. 2 that it authorizes the annual Food For Fines program to go ahead for the 2020 year.
The annual program allows anyone with a parking ticket for expired meters or staying beyond the two-hour limit in those zones to pay off their tickets with donations that go to the Whitehorse Food Bank and Kaushee’s Place women’s shelter.
The 2019 event saw a total of $6,535 in both cash and food donations raised for the two organizations.
“In the spirit of contributing to those citizens who are less fortunate, and in demonstration of holiday season goodwill and community spirit, Bylaw Services is requesting approval to continue this annual ‘Food for Fines’ initiative in December 2020 which the City has been supporting since 2005,” Morrison said.
He noted that the Whitehorse Food Bank is open five days a week and feeds more than 3,000 people each month while Kaushee’s Place provides food and housing to between 14 and 19 women and children every day throughout the year.
Morrison noted the city typically issues between 540 and 600 tickets per week. With fines for the tickets at $10 if paid within one business day or $25 thereafter, the city could bring in anywhere from $5,400 to $15,000 in a one week period.
“During the one-week Christmas Food for Fines initiative, people will again have the option of donating non-perishable food items in lieu of regular ‘expired parking meter’ fines or ‘two-hour zone’ fine payments,” Morrison stated in his report. “Food items contributed must be of the same or higher value than the ticket. If such a contribution is made, the ticket would be considered ‘paid in full.’”
Advertising would be done to promote the event, along with the annual cheque and food presentation to follow when it concludes.
If council authorizes the Food for Fines program once again, the donations would apply for parking tickets issued between Nov. 28 and Dec. 5.
Dec. 9 would mark the cut off date for residents to pay their fine off in the form of donations, in order to provide the donations to the two organizations ahead of the Christmas season.
While council members won’t vote on whether to authorize the program until Nov. 9, a number of members appeared to support it with Coun. Steve Roddick noting demand at the food bank has likely increased this year and expressing his support for the program.
Coun. Samson Hartland echoed that support, noting his thanks to all involved with it.
Coun. Jan Stick also confirmed with Morrison that anyone who pays their tickets online during the Food for Fines period will have that money donated to the cause.
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