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 March 7 meeting and other city happenings.

Sunday bus service begins

The City of Whitehorse will begin offering Sunday bus service on March 13.

“On behalf of city council, I am excited to see this long overdue service finally be implemented in our community,” Mayor Laura Cabott said in a statement. “It is vital that people be able to get around on Sundays whether it’s for groceries, work or wherever they need to go. Download our new transit apps and see how convenient Sunday service can be.”

This new service will follow established Saturday routes, schedules and timings.

The change to include Sunday and most public holidays in the schedule means Whitehorse public transit will be operating 363 days a year, with the exception of Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Transit schedules can be found at whitehorse.ca/transit

FCM conference plans

Whitehorse city council members could be travelling to Regina, or be there virtually, for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) annual conference and trade show in early June.

Valerie Braga, the city’s director of corporate services, brought forward a recommendation at council’s March 7 meeting that travel expences be authorized for Mayor Laura Cabott and councillors planning to attend the conference.

Councillors would also receive a daily stipend for their attendance.

The conference is held every year, bringing together municipal leaders from across the country.

In 2020, FCM hosted a virtual annual general meeting (AGM) in lieu of the annual conference and trade show due to COVID-19. As the pandemic continued, 2021 saw a virtual AGM, conference and trade show.

This time around FCM is planning a hybrid event with the in-person conference, AGM and trade show set to happen in Regina, with an option for virtual attendance as well, from June 2 to 5.

Braga confirmed councillors who attend the conference virtually would be entitled to the stipend, set at $100 for training or events between one and four hours and at $150 for training or events beyond four hours.

Because the mayor’s role is full-time, there is no stipend for the mayor to attend.

Council will vote March 14 whether to authroize the travel funds and stipends to attend the FCM conference.

New membership eyed for rec grant task force

The City of Whitehorse recreation grant task force could soon have two new members in place along with another member appointed to another term.

Keri Rutherford, the city’s acting manager of recreation, brought forward a recommendation to council at its March 7 meeting to appoint Adrienne Marsh, Benjamin Monkman and Jane Koepke to a five-year term on the task force.

Koepke has been serving on the task force and expressed an interest in serving another term, while Marsh and Monkman would be new members.

As Rutherford explained, the current term for three members ended and the city advertised for new members, receiving applications from Marsh and Monkman. Koepke offered to serve another term on the volunteer committee that reviews recreation grant applications and provides recommendations for the grants to the city.

Rutherford noted each have the experience for the volunteer role.

“Adrienne has been involved in recreation for her entire career, has government and not-for-profit experience, and has a good understanding of the recreational and sport environment in the Yukon,” she said. “Ben is a youth support outreach worker for Ta’an Kwäch’än Council and has a good understanding of youth and community needs.

“All members of the task force have extensive involvement in community activities and possess the leadership experience required.”

Rutherford also extended the city’s thanks to outgoing members Calli Steele and Marilyn McPhee for their service.

Council will vote March 14 whether to go ahead with the appointments.

Grant proposed

As efforts continue to try to address the opioid crisis in the territory, Whitehorse city council is considering making a $2,000 donation to the Blood Ties Four Directions Centre.

Valerie Braga, the city’s director of corporate services, brought forward the recommendation at council’s March 7 meeting. It followed a number of council sessions where members stated their desire to do whatever the city can to help address the issue.

As Braga said in her report to council, the territory is currently experiencing the highest per capita rate of opioid-related deaths in the country with eight such deaths so far in 2022.

“These events led the Government of Yukon to declare a substance-use health emergency on Jan. 20, 2022,” she said.

“A donation to the Blood Ties Four Directions Centre in the amount of $2,000 has been suggested as a gesture that could be made by the city to support the community through this organization.”

Coun. Michelle Friesen, who has voiced her support for the city taking action on the issue at numerous council meetings, noted her thanks to city staff in bringing the recommendation forward.

“I’m really happy to see that we’re continuing to find ways to play our part in response to the opioid crisis and just helping to build a safe community for everybody who calls Whitehorse home,” she said.

Council will vote on the donation March 14.

Property crime concerns

Efforts are underway to address property crime in the city, Whitehorse Mayor Laura Cabott says.

Cabott spoke to the issue at Whitehorse city council’s March 7 meeting, highlighting discussions with RCMP as well as the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and others around what appears to be an increase in break-ins, vandalism and other such crime.

“And we’ve come to the conclusion that we need to address this — the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Whitehorse, other levels of government — we need a whole community approach on this,” Cabott said, adding while there has been work done in the past and RCMP are “working tirelessly,” more needs to be done.

She said that no plans have been finalized, but residents can expect to hear more in the future.

“Rest assured that this is a priority for this council, the Chamber of Commerce and we have a commitment to work together and to pull in some of those other levels of government, First Nations, [non-government organizations], etc., to have a discussion about this, come up with a plan, come up with a strategy to implement that,” she said.

Valerie Braga, the city’s director of corporate services, said staff are looking at how other municipalities deal with similar issues and that bylaw officers also provide a presence in the city.

Open burning reminder

The City of Whitehorse is reminding residents that the deadline for open burning of brush is March 31.

No open burning of any kind is allowed from April 1 to Sept. 30th, with the exception of cooking fires, the city outlined in a statement.

Details on how to get an open burning permit are available at www.whitehorse.ca/departments/environmental-sustainability/energy-/burning-with-wood

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Whitehorse city council