The Village of Carmacks, known to some as the “hub of the Yukon” will have two mayoral candidates to choose from when they go to the polls on Oct. 21.
Incorporated as a village on Nov. 1, 1984, Carmacks maintains a population of around 500 full-time residents.
Vying for mayor of Carmacks is incumbent Lee Bodie, who has been the village’s mayor for seven and a half years, “give or take a few weeks.”
If re-elected, Bodie said he will look to finish the work that council has started.
“First and foremost is the arena,” said Bodie.
The arena in Carmacks was 10 to 11 years in the making, explained Bodie. After plenty of back-and-forth with the Yukon government, Carmacks received the go-ahead to build a $17-million facility with “all the bells and whistles.”
“We’re going to be on par with the rest of the communities and be able to host lots of tournaments and it’ll be a drawing card for people to move here and also come visit us,” said Bodie.
Bodie has been in the grocery business for over 50 years. The experience he has in that industry he said has helped him improve Carmacks.
“I like to make things better,” said Bodie. “(I’ve) taken those skills to the community aspect and tried to improve, where we can, services.”
One major problem Carmacks is having, like many other Yukon communities, is housing, said Bodie.
“Our community plan identified all the spots we want to build houses but we can’t because it’s either too expensive, undulating land, no access to water and no access to electricity,” said Bodie.
Bodie said the municipality is “hung up” on asking the government to find different ways to have more housing.
“I won’t give you any details, but we’re working on it to try and get other properties built,” he said.
The housing problem, Bodie said, has been something council has been working on for 15 years. In that time they’ve managed to build a few different properties.
“There’s still the same problem that we’re growing and there’s not enough room with existing housing stock,” said Bodie.
Tara Wheeler has been a Carmacks councillor since 2009. Wheeler contemplated running in the last election but she had just been elected as the president of the Association of Yukon Communities.
“I said then next election I’m running for mayor, it’s kind of stuck in my mind,” said Wheeler.
As a councillor since 2009, Wheeler said she’d like to see the projects started seen through.
“I’d like to be there to get them finished, the extensions to Merv Tew park, the new arena finally finished, the new fire hall and our cemetery being upgraded,” said Wheeler.
Wheeler could be on council to see all those projects through, but she also wants to bring back the community feel of Carmacks.
“I want more events, I want more things happening here,” said Wheeler. “You could see it going down, then COVID hit, and there was nothing. I want to bring that community feel where people want to come to Carmacks and people in Carmacks want to attend events.”
Wheeler currently is the acting director for the Little Salmon Carmacks Department of Health and Social Programs, through that work, she said she knows the issues.
Housing is a big issue to address.
“It’s not even just about available land,” said Wheeler. “It’s about getting houses built here for people to buy and rent.”
Although she doesn’t know the solution, Wheeler said sitting on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities board means she has great connections.
“I can use things that have worked and not worked so well in their communities,” said Wheeler. “It’s great to have those people on your side.”
Wheeler said she’ll also commit to working with the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation.
“We are so intermingled and if it’s going to be a great community we need to be working together,” said Wheeler.
Carmacks’ residents will go to the polls on Oct. 21. Both Bodie and Wheeler said no matter who wins the election, Carmacks will be in good hands.
For councillor positions, there will be six candidates. Kevin Undershute, Justin Lachance, John Laughlin Jr., and Doris Hanson will be taking on two incumbent councillors Helena Belanger and Lorraine Graham.
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