It’s been a full decade since Doug Graham has served as a Whitehorse city councillor, but he’s hoping to be back in the role later this month.
Graham is among 17 candidates running for six councillor positions in the Oct. 21 election.
Graham has an extensive political career going back to 1978 when he was elected to the legislature as the Progressive Conservative (which later became the Yukon Party) MLA for Porter Creek West. He would serve as MLA until 1982.
In 2000 he was elected to Whitehorse city council. He continued to serve until 2011 when he returned to the legislature under the Yukon Party banner as the MLA for Porter Creek North. He served as the minister of Education as well as minister of Health and Social Services.
In 2016, he initially announced plans to retire, but later ran in the Whitehorse Centre riding. He lost that election to former NDP leader Liz Hanson.
Heading into the 2021 municipal vote, Graham said if elected, he plans to use his experience, along with listening to residents, to move the city towards better government and more of a focus on essential city services.
In an Oct. 4 interview, he said it was a desire for improved leadership and the focus he wants on essential services which prompted him to run for a councillor position again.
Watching weekly council meetings, Graham said he’s seen a number of issues come forward where direction from council to administration seems to be lacking.
“Council’s job is to provide direction,” he commented, going on to point out essential city services as roads, water, sewer, waste and recreation.
Graham said he’d like to bring some “common sense” back to council.
“I have no problem sharing my opinions,” he said with a laugh.
Graham argued if the city got back to using tax dollars for essential services, there wouldn’t be a need for the higher property tax increases the city has seen in recent years. Though not opposed to tax increases when needed, he doesn’t believe taxes need to rise as they have over the last decade.
The 2021 tax increase of 0.34 per cent is the lowest increase in the last 10 years. 2020 saw a 2.2 per cent increase and 2019 saw a 2.3 per cent rise.
While Graham argued it is not up to the city to solve the housing issue, he did note it is important to look at the impact the increasing cost of lots is having on housing costs.
He suggested some of the measures taken when building new areas — constructing median boulevards that feature landscaping for example — could be eliminated, or done more simply, as those costs add up and further contribute to the cost of development, which increases the cost of lots.
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