Highways trump homeless

Homeless youth in Whitehorse are bunking in a social housing unit on Jeckell Street, after recently being displaced from the territory's Sarah Steele building as it undergoes renovations.

Homeless youth in Whitehorse are bunking in a social housing unit on Jeckell Street, after recently being displaced from the territory’s Sarah Steele building as it undergoes renovations.

For the NDP’s Steve Cardiff, the case illustrates much of what’s wrong with the territory’s Yukon Party government.

“You can spend millions and millions of dollars and borrow money to build hospitals and hydro facilities, and then you turn your back on the most precious resource we’ve got … our youth,” Cardiff told the legislature September 23.

“I’m tired – I’m damn tired of having to bang my head with the government on this issue.”

Economic Development Minister Jim Kenyon recently boasted the government is spending $37 million over several years to upgrade the Robert Campbell Highway.

The work is partly in preparation for the trucks that, as of Friday, will be hauling ore from Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine mine to port at Stewart, BC.

“It’s not that we don’t support exploration and mining,” said Cardiff. “But that money is a direct subsidy.”

Meanwhile, the territory refuses to fund a permanent youth shelter in Whitehorse, even though a facility already exists, and happens to stand one door down from the temporary digs currently used by youth.

Angel’s Nest was purchased two years ago by the Youth of Today Society in the hope of converting the old hostel into a permanent youth shelter. But the territory has resisted funding the operation, citing problems with the organization’s business plan.

If the territory was determined to open the shelter, it would help the organization overcome any details that have been cited as impediments to government funding, Cardiff said in an interview. “But I haven’t seen that happening,” he said. “The government refuses to work with them.

“The beds are there. They’re ready to go. But they don’t have the funding to staff it.”

Cardiff wasn’t thrilled with the status quo, in which up to four homeless youth were placed in the Sarah Steele building, near addicted adults in the territory’s detox program.

But having homeless youth taking up social housing means there’s less space available for single mothers and others lined up for affordable housing, said Cardiff. “That’s bad planning,” he told the legislature.

And, to add insult to injury, when the territory relocated the temporary youth shelter, nobody bothered to inform frontline groups that support at-risk youth, such as the Boys and Girls Club, Bringing Youth Towards Equality and Many Rivers Counselling, said Cardiff.

“They weren’t even informed,” said Cardiff. “That’s not good governance. That’s getting your priorities wrong.”

The current shelter gives off a cold impression. A sign on its door explains that would-be clients must call a number and be screened before entry. “Staff will not open this door for any reason,” it states.

Cardiff twice asked Glenn Hart, minister for Health and Social Services, to tour the youth shelter with him. Twice Hart declined the offer.

The Sarah Steele building’s renovations are expected to be complete by late October.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.

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

Just Posted

Chloe Tatsumi dismounts the balance beam to cap her routine during the Yukon Championships at the Polarettes Gymnastics Club on May 1. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Gymnasts vie in 2021 Yukon Championships

In a year without competition because of COVID-19, the Polarettes Gymnastics Club hosted its Yukon Championships.

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Yukon Budget 2.0

If the banks that finance the Yukon’s growing debt were the only… Continue reading

Yukon Supreme Court Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan dismissed an application on May 3 seeking more transparity on the territory’s state of emergency declaration. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Supreme Court rules confidential memo can’t be used in challenge of state of emergency

Court upholds cabinet confidentiality after request to use internal government memo as evidence.

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 7, 2021.… Continue reading

The deceased man, found in Lake LaBerge in 2016, had on three layers of clothing, Dakato work boots, and had a sheathed knife on his belt. Photo courtesy Yukon RCMP
RCMP, Coroner’s Office seek public assistance in identifying a deceased man

The Yukon RCMP Historical Case Unit and the Yukon Coroner’s Office are looking for public help to identify a man who was found dead in Lake LaBerge in May 2016.

Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine minesite has created a mess left to taxpayers to clean up, Lewis Rifkind argues. This file shot shows the mine in 2009. (John Thompson/Yukon News file)
Editorial: The cost of the Wolverine minesite

Lewis Rifkind Special to the News The price of a decent wolverine… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: border opening and Yukon Party texts

Dear Premier Sandy Silver and Dr Hanley, Once again I’m disheartened and… Continue reading

Fire chief Jason Everett (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City launches emergency alert system

The city is calling on residents and visitors to register for Whitehorse Alert

Two young orienteers reach their first checkpoint near Shipyards Park during a Yukon Orienteering Association sprint race May 5. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Orienteers were back in action for the season’s first race

The Yukon Orienteering Association began its 2021 season with a sprint race beginning at Shipyards.

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its May 3 meeting and the upcoming 20-minute makeover.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister talks tourism in “virtual visit” to the Yukon

Tourism operators discussed the budget with Freeland

Polarity Brewing is giving people extra incentive to get their COVID vaccine by offering a ‘free beer’ within 24 hours of their first shot. John Tonin/Yukon News
Polarity Brewing giving out ‘free’ beer with first COVID vaccination

Within 24 hours of receiving your first COVID-19 vaccine, Polarity Brewing will give you a beer.

Most Read