When Diana Rogerson and her husband Dave moved back to Faro six years ago, their plan was to buy a house and “semi-retire.”
They both found part-time jobs to pay the bills, but now Rogerson, 58, is looking for a new one.
In October she’ll be running for mayor of Faro.
After serving a term as a town councillor, Rogerson said she’s ready to move to the next level.
“I’ve learned a lot in the last three years,” she said. “A lot of the initiatives that are coming down the road are exciting and challenging and I want to be a part of that.”
As with almost every other town in the Yukon, housing is a big issue for Faro – but with a twist.
In its heyday, Faro was the second-largest town in the territory, boasting a population in excess of 2,000 people. But when the mine shut down in the late 1990s, the town emptied.
Today, the population is a little less than 400, but much of the infrastructure, including the houses, remains.
“We’re in a different position than other communities,” said Rogerson. “Other communities are looking for housing, we have some, but we’re not 100 per cent sure what the status of that housing is.”
It was one of the issues that she wanted to tackle when she started as a councillor, but quickly found it was a very complicated issue.
“That was one of the big learning curves,” she said.
The majority of the abandoned houses are owned by a private company and if the town takes them over, it opens up a host of issues, said Rogerson.
“What do you do with them after you have them?” she said. “If they’re in a state where they can be remediated, where does the money come from for that?
“There’s liability, insurance costs, a lot of factors that have to be considered before we move forward.”
In addition, the number of residences in town affects the amount of money it receives from the territory.
Razing unoccupied houses could “have a detrimental effect on funding for the community,” said Rogerson.
With the help of the Yukon government, the town is working with some consultants to assess the housing stock.
Revamping the town’s official community plan is an another issue that Rogerson is excited about taking on.
“In reviewing the OCP, we get to find out where the community sees itself a few years down the road,” she said.
Over the years, Faro has changed a lot, said Rogerson.
When she first moved to Faro in the 1980s, the town was booming.
Back then, she worked as the manager of the local CIBC branch while her husband worked as a machinist at the mine.
When the mine went bust, like almost everyone else, they left.
“We saw the writing on the wall,” she said. “With a young family, and income being an issue, we decided to move to Alberta.”
Settling in Fort Saskatchewan, Rogerson decided to make a career change, going back to school for early childhood education.
After all their children were grown – they have three, and are expecting their second grandchild later this year – the couple decided to move back to Faro.
“It’s just beautiful here,” she said. “We really loved it when we lived here.”
In the six years they’ve been back, Rogerson has worn many hats.
In addition to working on city council, she’s also the local agent for TD Canada Trust and works mornings helping out in the kindergarten classroom as an early childhood therapy assistant.
While it’s a much different town today than it was two decades ago, some things haven’t changed, said Rogerson.
“It was built as a family town and it still has that family town feel,” she said. “Going forward we’d like that to continue anyway.”
So far Rogerson is the only confirmed mayoral candidate.
The current mayor of Faro, Heather Campbell, hasn’t yet said whether she plans to seek another term. As of press time she couldn’t be reached for comment.
Municipal elections across the territory are scheduled for October 18.
Contact Josh Kerr at email@example.com