Scott Etches is running for Whitehorse city council this fall. (Submitted)

Former councillor in Mission, B.C., looks for a seat in Whitehorse

Scott Etches says he is interested in building relationships with service providers

Scott Etches isn’t going to promise to build a second bridge to Riverdale — that much he guarantees. What he does want to build though, is a relationship between service providers in Whitehorse.

It’s one of the things he says he’ll pursue if elected to city council this fall.

“Vertical silos of providers in Whitehorse are not actually getting a comprehensive solution to providing a continuum of support to people in need,” he says.

He says the “maze of service providers” for those struggling with homelessness and drug and alcohol abuse is made up of well-intentioned organizations, but he thinks it should fall to council to facilitate greater integration between them, which would lead to greater ease of use for clients.

To his mind, the wage increase council was granted this year should cover the added expense of councillors taking on an engaged leadership role.

That, along with restorative justice, and advocating for youth involvement in politics, is the kind of thing he focused on when he served as a councillor in Mission, B.C., from 2005 to 2008.

Etches moved to Whitehorse from Inuvik, N.W.T., in 2016 specifically, he says, “to involve myself in the U.S. information process during the U.S. election so that people would make an informed decision.”

He did that by opening the Arctic Restaurant — a small store in Horwoods Mall where he sold President Donald Trump swag. He says he also spoke to more than 4,000 American tourists, trying to find out what kind of values they wanted representing the U.S., and whether Trump upheld them (“Knowing Donald Trump, I knew that the answer was no,” he said.)

Since then, he says he has worked as a consultant.

Etches, like many council candidates, says housing is an issue for him. He says housing is geared toward middle to high income buyers, and that Whitehorse needs more affordable housing.

“One of the primary things I’d like to see is Whitehorse establishing a community land trust using the partnerships that we have between the city and the Canadian government, the Yukon government, First Nations, and the public to actually create these lands available so that we have a negotiating chip to bring affordable housing into the community.”

He also says he wants to see Whitehorse brand itself in a new way — to go beyond the mugs and T-shirts most cities sell to bring in a little extra cash. He wants the city to partner with manufacturers of outdoor gear, and license “Whitehorse — the brand” in order to realize a profit from the same of products such as sleeping bags and mountain bikes.

“We have that image of, you know, ruggedness, out there in the wilderness,” he says. “Well, if we have that reputation already, why aren’t we leveraging that reputation to turn around, make money from licensing, and also create an awareness and enthusiasm around going to Whitehorse.”

As an added benefit, he says there could be increased tourism.

Etches will be out on the streets of Whitehorse, door-knocking and trying to talk to residents in advance of the election.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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