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Janna Swales envisions Whitehorse as a ‘people-centred’ city

Swales runs for Whitehorse city council
Janna Swales is running for a Whitehorse city council. (Submitted)

After years of wanting to serve her community as a Whitehorse city councillor, Janna Swales’ name will be on the ballot.

In past elections, given her busy work schedule and family life, the executive director of the Yukon Transportation Museum has held off on submitting nomination papers. This time around, with everything in place at work and home so she can commit to the role, the paperwork has been submitted and her name is on the ballot for the Oct. 21 municipal election.

Swales is one of 17 candidates running for six councillor positions.

“I have a huge stake in this city,” she said, noting her roles as a homeowner, parent and director for the non-profit museum.

Swales said she wants to see the city look at all issues from a lens of reconciliation as it moves forward.

Among the issues, Swales lists affordability and housing, transportation, community safety and heritage.

She pointed out that she is seeing how the rising cost of living and housing Whitehorse can take its toll on the life and character of a community. Volunteers, for example, may find themselves working two jobs and without the time to help out causes that are important to them.

Swales would like to see Whitehorse as a city where homes and workplaces are close to one another and where transit is becomes a more convenient option, resulting in less traffic on city roads.

“I envision Whitehorse as a people-centred city,” she said.

Her vision also aims to address community safety.

Swales said she would look at how to best create “live/work/play” neighbourhoods that are occupied at all times.

She is excited, if elected, to be part of the council responsible for adopting a new Official Community Plan (OCP) looking ahead to 2040 for the city.

“We have opportunities,” she said.

Swales would also like more emphasis put on heritage at the city level, pointing out that while the city has a file focused on heritage, it does not have staff dedicated specifically to it.

She said the city could do more to make connections with the past and highlight its history. There are lessons to be gained that could serve the city well into the future, she said.

She cited the transit department as an example. It’s beginnings came thanks to a group of women who started the Whitehorse mini-bus society in the 1970s as a way of helping people move around the city at a time when many households had only one vehicle for the family.

She said that history speaks to what can happen when people work together.

“We are part of this bigger story,” Swales said, also noting tourism benefits that come from highlighting a community’s heritage.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Stephanie Waddell

About the Author: Stephanie Waddell

I joined Black Press in 2019 as a reporter for the Yukon News, becoming editor in February 2023.
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