Daniel MacKenzie speaks to city councillors during a regular committee meeting in Whitehorse on Dec. 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

‘Magic Cool Bus’ founder charged with harassment, uttering death threats

Daniel MacKenzie, the founder of the Free the Beat Foundation, was arrested Dec. 29

A Whitehorse man who’s been trying to get his safe-ride-home program off the ground is facing criminal charges after allegedly stalking a woman, threatening to kill another, and uttering death threats against Yukon government employees.

Daniel MacKenzie, the founder of the Free the Beat Foundation and operator of the “Magic Cool Bus,” was arrested Dec. 29 and later charged with one count of criminal harassment and two counts of uttering death threats.

He made his first appearance in territorial court Dec. 31.

According to court documents, MacKenzie allegedly “repeatedly” followed a woman between Dec. 1 and 28, causing her to “reasonably, in all the circumstances, fear for her safety.”

He is also alleged to have conveyed a death threat against another woman to her, and, on Dec. 26, uttered death threats to Yukon government employees.

Dressed in a black sweater, MacKenzie said little in court as the Crown and his defence lawyer, Robert Dick, set a date for his bail hearing.

MacKenzie’s mother, however, was sitting in the court gallery and began to cry when he was brought into the prisoner’s box. She became distraught when he was taken away following the conclusion of the brief proceedings, asking when she would be allowed to see her son.

MacKenzie, who remains in custody, is scheduled to appear in court next on Jan. 2.

MacKenzie has spent recent months trying to garner support, including from Whitehorse city council, for his “Magic Cool Bus” initiative, a service that offers Whitehorse residents rides home in a school bus — in particular, those that have been out at bars — on a by-donation or free basis.

The City of Whitehorse distanced itself from MacKenzie’s plan saying he hadn’t met any of the regulatory requirements necessary to provide his service. Following the city’s statement MacKenzie said he was going to become a paid service and meet all the city’s requirements.

In recent Facebook posts, he had shared links to a GoFundMe campaign he created to help pay the remaining amount he owed on the school bus, and also appeared to be trying to sell several items, including fire wood and vehicles, to cover the cost. In a Dec. 27 message, MacKenzie wrote that he had until Jan. 1 to raise $5,000 for the bus, and that he had also had his business licence application rejected.

“I hope you all can take a lesson as I have from this and try to help people regardless of the risks and how crazy it can get trying to do something entirely new with good intentions,” he wrote. “…I had a dream to see this a reality by January 1st 2019 I’m sorry I failed you, my community. If I can keep the bus I’ll be running by the 2nd week of Jan if not at least we tried. So appreciative of the strong friends who have stuck by me through all this. You’ve made it possible to get this close.”

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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