Dawson mayor muzzled

Dawson City Mayor John Steins should stop complaining about gas prices, says an early August resolution by Dawson City councillors.

Dawson City Mayor John Steins should stop complaining about gas prices, says an early August resolution by Dawson City councillors.

Dawson City gas stations are “unconscionably gouging” their customers, Steins told the News in late July.

The article “raised the ire of one gas station operator who sent his wife to our town council meeting Tuesday to complain,” wrote Steins on his online Mayor’s Blog.

The delegation gave Steins a thorough “chewing out,” he said.

“‘The mayor doesn’t have an opinion,’‘How dare I?,’‘I should take out a full-page ad to apologize,’ and so on and so forth,” said Steins.

In response, Dawson City council passed a resolution stating the “council remain neutral on any debate on Dawson gas prices.”

“It’s a knee-jerk reaction to a complaint,” said Steins.

“It’s a stupid resolution,” said Andre Carrel, Dawson City’s former financial administrator.

“It exposes council to ridicule more than anything else,” he said.

The Yukon Municipal Act doesn’t provide any specifics for muzzling an outspoken mayor.

“If the mayor were to ignore (the resolution), there’s nothing the council could do about it,” said Carrel.

However, Stein’s actions could be justified by a mayoral obligation to “consider the well-being and interests of the municipality as a whole.”

Steins wrote that he will “certainly continue” criticizing Dawson’s retail gas prices, in an August 7 blog post.

“Each councillor has the right to voice an opinion on anything, at least that’s how I see it,” said Steins.

“You shouldn’t go out of your way to stir things up, but that particular issue is important to me,” he said.

In the days since the meeting, Steins says he has been assailed with phone calls and comments from Dawsonites expressing their support.

“I’ve had one person jump out with a bouquet of flowers,” said Steins.

Barring the fly-in community of Old Crow, Dawson gas prices remain the highest in the territory.

Gas stations have largely justified the higher prices as being due to “freight costs.”

However, Dawson prices can be up to 30 cents higher than in Whitehorse.

Therefore, a highway trip of only 532 kilometres, is causing a litre of gas to jump in value by up to 30 per cent.

For a 37,500-litre truck, that amounts to a premium of more than $10,000 – or $18 per kilometre.

“If council had passed a motion to educate itself and provide real information to the community on how gas pricing actually works … I think that would have been more helpful than simply telling the mayor to shut up,” said Carrel.

“It should not matter whether you sell turnips or gas, you should expect that customers will question the price of goods,” read a comment on the Mayor’s Blog.

“Is the mayor allowed to comment about bread prices? Coffee prices? Or is it strictly oil?” said Carrel.

In 2001, Toronto’s former mayor Mel Lastman travelled to Mombasa, Kenya, to secure the Ontario city’s bid for the 2008 summer Olympics.

Right before setting out, he quipped to a reporter, “What the hell do I want to go to a place like Mombasa? … I just see myself in a pot of boiling water with all these natives dancing around me.”

The remark met with universal condemnation, and was rumoured to have jeopardized the city’s Olympic bid.

Toronto city councillors were open in criticizing their mayor.

But, they didn’t pass a motion forbidding him to speak.

Contact Tristin Hopper at

tristinh@yukon-news.com

Pull Quote”It’s a stupid resolution. It exposes council to ridicule more than anything else.” Andre Carrel/Pull Quote

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukon RCMP are making an appeal for information in the case of Mary Ann Ollie, who was murdered in Ross River last year and whose case remains unsolved. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce executive director Susan Guatto and program manager Andrei Samson outside the chamber office in downtown Whitehorse Feb. 23. (Stephanie Waddell, Yukon News)
When business models shift

Whitehorse chamber offers digital marketing workshop

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Submitted
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read