People like dogs – that’s one of the things Danny Macdonald learned going door-to-door when he campaigned for the Yukon Party during the 2016 territorial election.
He also learned they have a broad diversity of reasons for voting the way they do, and that’s what he’ll keep that in mind this fall as he campaigns for a seat on Whitehorse city council.
Macdonald, who works as editor of What’s Up Yukon, said his job as editor wouldn’t influence a council position because his is primarily an arts publication.
“Thankfully, at What’s Up Yukon, there is an opportunity to balance that because we don’t do politics, period,” he told the News on Sept. 19, a day after his announcement. “We stay out of that so there’s a bit of a firewall there.”
He said a council seat is something he couldn’t have run for prior to working in media, because the majority of his work previously was with Yukon government, as a senior advisor and press secretary with the Yukon Party government, and in the Department of Energy, Mines, and Resources. He also ran for the Yukon Party in the last territorial election.
“I couldn’t run for another government,” he said. However, since leaving territorial politics, which gave him an understanding of how government works, he said friends and family have encouraged him to run for council.
Macdonald, who claims “lifelong Yukoner status” (he’s nervous to say “born and raised,” as he moved from the south at six months old), said one of the things he’d be most excited to dig into as a councillor is the parks and recreation master plan.
“Parks and recreation is one of the great things about living here and why a lot of people live here,” he said.
“As someone whose been involved with the sports community for a long time, in a variety of different sports, I think I bring an added role and perspective on it, in terms of making choices that are in the best interests of the community.”
Macdonald, who is president of the Yukon Soccer Association, said he’s interested in maximizing the use of facilities the city already has, and making sure a critical mass of people are frequenting them before putting money towards facilities that only work for one particular sport or use.
“(I think we should be) viewing the plan as a starting point, an important point,” he said. “But as we move forward, it’s not the last time people have a chance to comment. I don’t think we should be viewing it as an end document.”
He feels similarly about the Official Community Plan, which is up for review this year. Macdonald cites housing as a major concern in the OCP.
“I think, for sure, is looking beyond Whistle Bend and starting a longer term plan for lots,” he said. “We always talk about ‘oh let’s have a two year supply of lots’ and somehow we never get there.”
Macdonald said there needs to be a broader discussion about how to make that happen, to look at existing neighbourhoods, and make sure there’s a process in place.
Tied to that, he said he’s interested in new ways of finding out from residents what they want to see. Engagement is important, he said, but it’s also possible for residents to burn out.
In the last year alone, there were a number of master plans released (parks and recreation, transit, downtown, and Marwell), which means the previous year was all about gathering feedback from the public.
“It’s almost a double-edged sword,” he said. “You have to engage enough but if you do it too much people get fatigued.”
The Whitehorse municipal election takes place Oct. 18.
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Correction: In the print version of this story Macdonald was incorrectly identified as having campaigned for the Liberals. He ran for the Yukon Party in the last territorial election. The News regrets the error.