Groups meet to discuss Housing Action Plan on one year anniversary

The territory’s Housing Action Plan is one year old, but so far, it seems little progress has been made.

The territory’s Housing Action Plan is one year old, but so far, it seems little progress has been made.

At a housing forum last week, five members of the plan’s implementation committee provided an update on the work done during this first year.

Lars Hartling, vice-president of the Yukon Residential Landlords Association, said one of the biggest challenges so far has been a delay in the compilation of data – statistics on everything from rental rates and housing stock to homelessness and demographics – from a variety of sources, including Statistics Canada, the Yukon Bureau of Statistics, the point-in-time homelessness count and First Nations housing departments.

“We cannot solve housing problems without quality data,” Hartling said at the forum. “We also need to talk to the frontline people so that we can correlate that the data is correct. But still, we cannot just be throwing blindly our funding around.”

The Yukon Housing Corporation issued a request for proposals (RFP) in January for this task – pulling information together to create a full picture of all the existing data.

For the implementation committee, this has been the most important contract, said Mary Cameron, vice-president of corporate services with the Yukon Housing Corporation.

Two other RFPs were released in January – one for the creation of a communications and marketing strategy, and the other for a housing education plan, which would involve a review of the housing education programs that exist in the territory, such as Yukon Housing’s Home Ownership Preparedness and Education and Blood Ties Four Directions Centre’s Rent Well.

All three contracts were awarded in February. The data contract was awarded to a Whitehorse consultant for $42,000.

But sometime between then and this month, the implementation committee decided to hire another firm to handle the project instead.

This was “due to considerations with where (the local contractor’s) work plan was,” said Cameron.

“The concern was more around the type of research that was being done. We were looking for on-the-ground conversations with housing providers, with non-profit sectors, with First Nations, not just statistical analysis that’s found (online).”

Cameron couldn’t say when the local contractor stopped working on the project.

Options Consulting, a Vancouver-based firm that had the second-lowest bid on the project, at $56,000, began compiling the data just this month.

Cameron said Options Consulting had been busy until this month working on the education program contract, which it had also been awarded.

The Housing Action Plan identifies a need for current, reliable data to help understand housing issues.

“Organizations working throughout the (housing) continuum spoke to a general lack of data and statistics upon which to base decision-making,” it states.

Cameron said there are many sources of data, but each exists in a silo. Connecting them is important.

During last week’s panel, Bill Thomas of the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition pointed out the inherent challenge in the committee’s work: “Housing needs are immediate. Building things takes time.”

He said that 90 per cent of people who responded to the point-in-time homelessness count, which was conducted over a 24-hour period in April, said they wanted safe, stable, permanent housing.

The count identified 256 people in Whitehorse who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Cameron said it’s difficult to measure housing progress in just one year’s time.

“I think what we can measure is how many agencies are still committed,” she said. “It’s more than just one agency picking up the torch and solving housing. So with that, I think what we’ve seen over the last year is agencies working together in partnership.”

There are some projects newly underway, the benefits of which won’t be seen for a year or two, she said, such as the new Salvation Army building under construction on Fourth Avenue.

The Housing Action Plan was released last June. It sets out goals and recommendations across three pillars – housing with services, rental housing and home ownership – over 10 years, until 2025.

The implementation committee held its first meeting in August. It’s made up of 19 organizations, including the Association of Yukon Communities, the City of Whitehorse, the Council of Yukon First Nations, the RCMP, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and the Yukon Council on Aging.

The committee meets monthly.

Contact Rhiannon Russell at

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

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. The Yukon government announced three new cases of COVID-19 in Watson Lake on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three new COVID-19 cases identified in Watson Lake

The Yukon government has identified three locations in town where public exposure may have occurred

Asad Chishti, organizer of the rally to support the conservation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, leads marchers through chants with a megaphone outside the Bank of Montreal in Whitehorse on Aug. 28. The BMO is the second Candian bank to announce it will not directly fund oil and gas projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Bank of Montreal second Canadian bank to join ANWR boycott

BMO joins RBC, the first to commit to the boycott

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley speak during a COVID-19 update press conference in Whitehorse on July 29. Silver urged “kindness and patience” during the weekly COVID-19 update on Oct. 21, after RCMP said they are investigating an act of vandalism against American travellers in Haines Junction.
(Alistair Maitland Photography file)
COVID-19 update urges “kindness and patience” for travellers transiting through the territory

“We need to support each other through these challenging times”

Whitehorse Correctional Centre officials have replied to a petition by inmate Charabelle Silverfox, who alleges she’s being kept in conditions mirroring separate confinement, arguing that her placement isn’t nearly as restrictive as claimed. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Inmate not being kept in restrictive confinement, WCC argues in response to petition

Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC) officials have replied to a petition by an… Continue reading


Wyatt’s World for Oct. 23, 2020

Today’s mailbox: Electricity and air travel

Letters to the editor published Oct. 23, 2020

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Irony versus Climate

Lately it seems like Irony has taken over as Editor-in-Chief at media… Continue reading

Evan Lafreniere races downhill during the U Kon Echelon Halloweeny Cross-Country Race on Oct. 16. (Inara Barker/Submitted)
Costumed bike race marks end of season

The U Kon Echelon Bike Club hosted its final race of the… Continue reading

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee, right, before question period at the Yukon legislative assembly in Whitehorse on March 7, 2019. The Yukon government announced Oct. 19 it has increased the honoraria rates for school council members. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Honoraria increased for school council members

Members of school councils throughout the territory could soon receive an increased… Continue reading

Triple J’s Canna Space in Whitehorse on April 17, 2019, opens their first container of product. Two years after Canada legalized the sale of cannabis, Yukon leads the country in per capita legal sales. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon leads Canadian cannabis sales two years after legalization

Private retailers still asking for changes that would allow online sales

A sign greets guests near the entrance of the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse on June 11. The city announced Oct. 16 it was moving into the next part of its phased reopening plan with spectator seating areas open at a reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
CGC reopening continues

Limited spectator seating now available

During Whitehorse city council’s Oct. 19 meeting, planning manager Mélodie Simard brought forward a recommendation that a proposed Official Community Plan amendment move forward that would designate a 56.3 hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend, currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
More development in Whistle Bend contemplated

OCP change would be the first of several steps to develop future area

Most Read