A look at city issues and decisions made by council at its Jan. 17 meeting.
City adapts to new public health measures
As the City of Whitehorse adapts to new public health measures being imposed by the Yukon government in light of the recent surge of COVID-19 cases, officials are reminding residents of city service options.
In a Jan. 19 statement, officials said city offices remain open, but it is recommended residents use electronic options when possible.
Through the city website, residents can get information and/or application forms for business licences, building inspections and development permits; pay parking tickets; and more. A full list of services is available online.
A number of recreational programs and fitness classes at the Canada Games Centre have been cancelled or postponed due to the public health measures. The pool remains open, but the sauna, steam room and hot tub at the centre are closed. While some other spontaneous use areas for drop-in’s remain open at the recreation centre, restrictions are in place.
“Please don’t visit city facilities or use public transit if you’re feeling sick or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms,” officials said.
Ushiku exchange postponed again
Once again, COVID-19 has taken its toll on the City of Whitehorse’s student exchange with sister city of Ushiku, Japan.
“The City of Whitehorse is disappointed to postpone this year’s student exchange with our sister city, Ushiku, Japan, as a result of the ongoing global pandemic,” officials said in a Jan. 19 statement.
The exchange program typically alternates each year between an Ushiku delegation coming to Whitehorse and a Whitehorse delegation going to Ushiku. The visiting group stays with local families in the host city.
The exchange was last held in 2019 when Whitehorse hosted 13 youth between the ages of 13 and 18 and their chaperones from Ushiku. Since then, the annual exchange has been cancelled due to COVID-19.
“As always, the city will proudly fly Ushiku’s flag on the fourth Monday of June, in recognition of the strong relationship between our communities over the past 37 years,” the city said, adding its hope for the exchange to happen in 2023.
City moves closer to renaming streets
Whitehorse city council is closer to renaming two Whistle Bend streets after members passed first and second reading of a bylaw on it at council’s Jan. 17 meeting.
The change would see the names of Gypsy Queen Lane and Peep Street changed to Scotia Lane and Omega Street after concerns came up over the terms gypsy and peep.
As a staff report to Whitehorse city council stated: “Concern has since been raised that the term ‘gypsy’ can be considered an inappropriate and derogatory term for the Roma people.
“Concerns have also been raised that the word ‘peep’ is often associated with terms such as ‘peepshow’ and ‘peeping Tom,’ which has sexual connotations.”
As with all streets in Whistle Bend, the roads were named after riverboats of the north. Gypsy Queen was a sternwheeler that provided transport to the Klondike during the gold rush, while Peep was a steamship that operated in 1909 in British Columbia.
The street renaming is not expected to have a major impact on residents as lots on Peep have not yet been available for sale and most homes on Gypsy Queen are still under development.
While council was unanimous in passing the first two readings, Coun. Dan Boyd said he’s looking forward to hearing from the public ahead of third reading.
“I’m looking forward to the public input in response to this,” he said. “I’m not the best one to judge what’s appropriate and inappropriate so hopefully we’ll have some community input on that and perhaps administration can find the opportunity to provide us further guidence on that question.”
While there’s no formal public hearing or input session, Mayor Laura Cabott said ahead of third reading residents can provide comments through the city’s website or by email. Third reading will come forward in February.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at email@example.com