In a heated speech that topped 15 minutes at Monday evening’s council meeting, Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis lashed out at the Yukon Party leaders who accused him of single-handedly vetoing the outdoor sports complex.
Community Services Minister Currie Dixon and Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski were both on the receiving end of Curtis’s remarks.
“To suggest that I was the deciding vote is not accurate, not true, not factual,” Curtis said.
“I’m really perplexed that this kind of garbage would come forward from that level of government – it’s very disappointing and I would expect better from my premier and my government.”
Last week, council members voted against a zoning amendment bylaw that would have given the Yukon government permission to build two artificial turf fields, a rubberized track and bleachers on a four-hectare parcel of land in Whistle Bend.
Curtis, who was sick at home and participating in that meeting by phone, was the last to cast a vote, resulting in a 3-3 tie that defeated the bylaw.
A letter from the Yukon Party caucus on April 28 stated that Curtis had cast the deciding “nay” vote.
“There are six of us and each one of our votes is a deciding vote,” Curtis said.
“I’m not the decision maker and to say that I am is giving me more power than I actually have. I understand that our minister has been at the file for just over two months – I’ve been the mayor of a municipal government for two and a half years.
“It takes some time to fully understand municipal process and I will continue to support the minister’s learning curve.”
City council has expressed concern that the city may end up being on the hook for paying the cost of operating the proposed facility. Dixon has offered assurances the territory will cover these costs, but councillors worry future governments may not hold up this commitment. Doubts have also been expressed about the business plan prepared by the new group that would operate the facility.
Some councillors are also against the idea of fencing off the facility and not making it available to the general public.
Curtis said he was looking forward to meeting Dixon on Thursday, where he plans on emphasizing the importance of municipal authority and how to gauge public support through the Municipal Act.
The mayor also took offence to comments Pasloski reportedly made on the radio last week.
Curtis read out a transcript of an interview between Pasloski and a local reporter, in which the premier stated that if the city wasn’t amenable to the idea of a sports complex, the next council might be.
“Premier Pasloski, I have nothing but respect for you, but I’d like to suggest that if you’d like to run for municipal government, I suggest you run for municipal government,” Curtis said.
“It’s totally inappropriate to be working through the media to try to address concerns that he may have. I feel quite frankly the past couple weeks like I’m the leader of the Opposition.
“It’s inappropriate to suggest that a new council should be brought in.”
Towards the end of the speech, Curtis said that if doing what he believes is best for the citizens of Whitehorse means he is to become a one-term mayor, “then so be it.”
“I am running again, but I won’t be intimidated or do things that I don’t think is appropriate.”
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