Housing crisis

There is a housing crisis in Whitehorse, and as summer tourist season ramps up it's going to get worse, says the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition.

There is a housing crisis in Whitehorse, and as summer tourist season ramps up it’s going to get worse, says the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition.

“We have this seasonal thing of people being evicted from their hotel rooms in advance of the tourist onslaught so that higher rents can be charged,” said Ross Findlater, a coalition co-chair.

“We’re really calling on all levels of government and any concerned citizens to step up to the plate.”

So the coalition is considering housing people in churches, schools, old nursing residences and renovating Yukon Housing Corp. stock in the south end of downtown.

This week, at a meeting held in the parking lot of the Salvation Army parking lot, people even considered erecting a tent city.

“People are tired of sleeping on chairs and under tables,” said Kate Mechan, the housing navigator with Blood Ties Four Directions. “Right now we’re exploring the possibility of a tent city.”

It’s not meant to be an act of resistance, she said, and there would be some practical benefits to something like that.

“From the standpoint of an outreach worker we would be able to provide support in one spot,” said Mechan. “It would also demonstrate to the city how great the need truly is.”

The city wouldn’t put the kibosh on a tent city, but it must conform to current bylaws, said Mayor Bev Buckway.

“It’s a tough situation,” she said.

And it’s not just those on the economic margins who are hurt by the housing shortage, business is also affected.

“The housing situation is a crisis,” said Rick Karp, president of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce.

With a vacancy rate of just one per cent, and the average price of a house at around $400,000, Whitehorse is a tough sell for employers.

“We can’t attract people to Whitehorse if there’s no place to live,” he said. “We are losing a lot of potential employees at all levels of skill.”

In addition, the acute lack of small apartments and starter homes is stifling people economically, said Karp.

“We need to increase the potential for upward mobility,” he said. “We’ve lost that capacity.”

The Chamber wants to see the government take action on revamping the Landlord Tenant Act, something that has been put off for years.

Updating that legislation would benefit owners and renters by setting firm standards, said Karp.

“It’s a desperate situation we have right now,” he said,” People are living in circumstances that aren’t the best.”

Given the depth of the crisis, it was disheartening to learn the government has been sitting on $17.5 million in affordable housing money for years, said Findlater.

“It’s quite concerning,” he said. “It just added to the sense of frustration people were experiencing.”

“That pile of money shows a complete disregard,” said Mechan. “People are feeling hopeless and let down by the government.

“There really isn’t any excuse of not acting.”

Contact Josh Kerr at

joshk@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read