Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)

City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its July 19 meeting and what’s happening around the city.

New outdoor playground opens at the Canada Games Centre

Youngsters visiting the Canada Games Centre have a new option for outdoor fun.

The City of Whitehorse has officially opened its new playground just outside the entryway to the recreation complex.

In a June 20 social media post, officials announced the opening.

“Our playground at the Canada Games Centre is officially open and kid-approved! Come and explore! Thanks to our Wild Things campers and our coworker Carrie for testing it out!”

While the CGC already features an indoor playground, city staff have noted previously it is often at capacity and the outdoor playground will help facilitate more outdoor play.

The accessible playground, which cost $199,500, was designed and installed by Play Systems North.

Changes proposed for recreation grant policy

There could be changes coming to the City of Whitehorse recreation grant policy.

The policy guides how the city allocates approximately $2 million it provides to community groups annually. Funding for the grants comes from Lotteries Yukon.

The changes came forward to Whitehorse city council at its July 19 meeting.

Kerri Rutherford, the city’s program supervisor, stated in a report to council that while the policy was revised in 2020, over the past year it’s been found a review was needed to deal with minor housekeeping and provide greater clarity.

“The majority of the recommended policy changes are to provide greater clarity or are housekeeping items that have been identified over the last funding year by organizations, the (city’s recreation grant) task force, council and administration,” Rutherford said.

She went on to point out the most significant change would see the word “equipment” replace the word “capital” to describe items groups may seek funding for, with major and minor categories in place.

Major equipment would refer to items that cost $2,000-plus and is expected to last two years or more with minor equipment being items that cost less and are not expected to exceed two years.

“This change better reflects how the program is utilized and is more realistic in the application for the funding limits for each category,” Rutherford said.

Other amendments would confirm the maximum amount of eligible funding per year/per applicant, include the accountability statement as part of the evaluation criteria and clarify that funding is not to be used toward city fees.

Council will vote on the proposed changes at its July 26 meeting.

Councillor highlights housing concerns

Whitehorse city councillor Steve Roddick drew attention to the housing issue at council’s July 19 meeting.

“I think urgent action is needed,” he said after bringing the issue forward under new business.

He pointed to handwritten posters that have sprung up throughout the downtown about the issue, one which stated the writer’s dog had to be put down because they couldn’t find a place that accepts pets.

“That’s one of many stories that you hear,” Roddick said

He commented the housing issue seems to be reaching a critical point with a number of residents feeling if they’re locked out of the market now they won’t be able to get in.

He pointed out in many cases bidding wars have become standard and it’s “almost like we’re in some kind of housing Hunger Games now.”

He also cited issues with the impact short-term private rentals, like Airbnb, can have on the housing market, arguing its something that should be looked at more seriously.

He said he wanted to bring the matter up because “what are we going to do about it?

“We always talk about supply, we need to get more supply, more houses, more lots to market and that’s part of it, but if we’re talking about the financialization of housing here, we have to address that aspect of it.”

He also suggested work should be done to consider the possibility of community land trusts, which holds land for housing as a way to keep housing more affordable.

“We’ve hit a point here where I think some urgent action is needed and we need to start thinking outside the box,” he said.

Whitehorse Alert

The City of Whitehorse is continuing to encourage residents to sign up for the Whitehorse Alert.

Deputy mayor Samson Hartland issued a reminder about the notification system at council’s July 19 meeting.

“Given the emergency preparedness that’s been happening recently and in the coming weeks, I want to take this opportunity to encourage citizens to sign up for Whitehorse Alert,” he said. “If we can’t reach you, we can’t alert you.”

The system is designed to quickly inform residents by phone, text or email about emergency situations like fires, evacuation orders, road transportation emergencies, or earthquakes.

Residents can register for the service via the city’s website at whitehorse.ca

Visitors can also sign up to receive alerts for seven days by texting whitehorsealert to 67283.

(Stephanie Waddell)

Whitehorse city council