Metal plates are seen bolted to concrete flowers beds on the corner of Third Avenue and Alexander Street on Aug. 8. The plates are an apparent attempt to stop people from sitting on the ledges and according to the city, are in violation of bylaw and scheduled to be removed. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Metal strips around downtown Whitehorse building to be removed

City says strips on parking barricades and planters surrounding 303 Alexander St. are a safety hazard

Metal strips placed along wooden parking barricades and planters surrounding a downtown Whitehorse building in an apparent attempt to keep people from sitting on them are in violation of bylaw and scheduled to be removed, according to the city.

In an email Aug. 8, city spokesperson Myles Dolphin wrote that the installation of the metal strips at 303 Alexander St., at the corner of Third Avenue and Alexander Street, “was not completed or endorsed by the City of Whitehorse and only just recently came to the attention of Administration.”

“Besides being harsh and uninviting these metal strips have sharp corners and edges which also presents a safety concern for those walking in close proximity,” Dolphin wrote. “The City will be working with the building owner to have them removed pursuant to the provisions within the City of Whitehorse Maintenance Bylaw.”

Section 48 of the bylaw states that no one is allowed to “cause, permit, or allow property owned or occupied by them to be in bad repair or to constitute a danger.”

Dolphin said that the building manager told the city the strips will be removed by early next week.

According to city records, the building is owned by a numbered company, 535756 Yukon Inc. Its president, Walter Trotter, did not respond to either an email or a message left at his workplace.

The building contains, among other things, offices for the Yukon government’s Department of Economic Development, a law office, a sleep clinic and a psychiatrist’s office.

The strips have been in place since at least late May and are an example of what’s been dubbed “defensive architecture” or “hostile architecture,” where property owners or managers use purposely-uninviting design elements to keep people from loitering or otherwise staying in the area.

Other examples of “hostile architecture” include park benches with handles in the middle to prevent people from sleeping on them, studs and spikes installed on the ground under outdoor but covered areas and strategically-placed greenery.

The Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition’s executive director, Kristina Craig, said she thought the appearance of hostile architecture in Whitehorse was “unfortunate.”

“We all live here. Everybody needs a place to sit from time to time and if we are recognizing that people sometimes don’t have other places to gather or to be, they are often outside,” she said, adding that hostile architecture can have “more of an impact on some parts of the population than others.”

Although she said she can’t remember another time anyone in Whitehorse has installed metal sheeting, Craig said there are other examples of businesses trying to keep people “moving along.” The Tim Hortons on Second Avenue plays loud classical music, she said, and, “back in the day,” the government considered moving its liquor store to a less central location so that tourists wouldn’t see people loitering outside.

“We need to recognize that we do all live here in the city and we are all neighbours and we actually don’t always know everybody else’s story or what … their situation might be,” she said.

“So I think every business owner has absolutely a right to ensure that their business is clean and safe and people are happy to go there and I think there are lots of ways we can support business owners in doing that … But if the only way we think we can respond is making it hard for people to gather and sit down, I think we have a long way to go if that’s as deep as we’re willing to go.”

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

Just Posted

Woman’s death in Ross River confirmed to be a homicide, Yukon RCMP says

Maryann Ollie, 59, died on Aug. 1. She was a citizen of Ross River Dena Council.

Jack Amos adds to Yukon medal count at Western Canada Summer Games

The territory’s athletes now have six medals — one silver and five bronze

Start of the Whitehorse school year signals traffic changes

School zones in effect starting Aug. 21

Canada Games Centre tests new software

You may want to hold off on buying those punch cards

Yukonomist: Fun facts for your next violent barbecue debate about government jobs

Have you ever been at a barbecue where someone starts talking loudly… Continue reading

Yukon disc golfers compete in Trilogy Challenge

“We definitely are seeing a lot of new people starting into the sport”

Council news, briefly

Some of the decisions made at the Aug. 5 Whitehorse city council meeting

History Hunter: New book celebrates Yukon’s most colourful hotel

If the walls could talk, what tales they would tell. But the… Continue reading

River Trail Marathon tests runners with heat and sun

“It was very hot in the second half, but the volunteers are amazing and there is water often”

Yukonomist: If climate change was a pothole, we already would have fixed it

Paved roads are good, but I fear we have gone too far

Chili and Beans Race the perfect recipe for a rainy day

“It’s good. Especially in these conditions because you know you have a warm bowl of chili waiting”

Motive will be ‘extremely difficult’ to determine in northern B.C. deaths, RCMP say

The bodies of Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky have been found

Most Read