‘Mr. Conciliator’ seeks new term

Kirk Cameron will be running to retain his seat in Whitehorse's October municipal election. The management consultant feels his title as "Mr. Conciliator" is both apt and the skill is still needed for city council.

Kirk Cameron will be running to retain his seat in Whitehorse’s October municipal election.

The management consultant feels his title as “Mr. Conciliator” is both apt and the skill is still needed for city council.

“Often, in council, we’re dealing with disputes,” he said. “I’m always trying to find the kind of avenues to get a conclusion that’s the best possible for both parties.”

He claims the recent resolution for the Whitehorse Curling Club as one of his successes. But not all of Cameron’s conciliation techniques have gone over well.

Within hours of winning his seat on council in December’s byelection, Cameron was criticized for flip-flopping on the controversial Porter Creek D issue.

Plans to build a subdivision near McIntyre Creek have been proposed and shot down for years. At the time of the byelection, the issue had reared its head again.

Conservationists oppose the idea, citing the creek is the city’s last wildlife corridor. During his campaign, Cameron said he also opposed the development, but after winning former councillor Doug Graham’s seat, he said he would support more studies into the idea.

“That’s a great example of really what amounted to misunderstanding,” he said, insisting that what he did was not flip-flop.

Instead, his push was to have more studies prove a bridge over the creek was not necessary, he said.

But if a vote came up tomorrow, would Cameron vote down the subdivision? He can’t say.

“That work is not concluded yet,” he said, noting another initiative of his to have an independent body consult with affected groups. “Does it mean at the end of the day I’m going to waffle on the decision? No. But I’ll be making the decision based on a lot better understanding of what those community groups’ overall values are that relate to that part of our city.”

In general, Cameron is an advocate for densifying Whitehorse’s current footprint, rather than sprawling more into surrounding green space and wilderness.

Porter Creek D, if ever built, would slide in between Porter Creek and Takhini.

But Cameron’s first priority is filling in, and building up, the downtown core.

“My own view is, I don’t mind if you build a 30-metre structure – a five-, six-storey building right in front of my condo – because I frankly think we need to densify the downtown and if I lose a bit of visibility as a consequence, that doesn’t bother me one bit,” he said.

Cameron was referring to the large lot across from his home on Hawkins Street, which stretches from Fifth Avenue to the clay cliffs and over to the river. The lot is partially owned by the city, territory and Yukon Housing Corporation, he said.

“I think we have to look at our circumstances and say, ‘Given what the Yukon is now facing, in the future we’re going to need more and more densification in the downtown core.’ And I’d far prefer that than to start looking at destroying other areas of habitat.”

Before winning December’s byelection, Cameron called on the city to use more “sticks and carrots” to encourage downtown landowners to build on empty or underused lots.

Now, after his nearly 10 months on council, the municipality has “put some carrots in place,” such as tax incentives for downtown lot owners who develop their properties. But more needs to be done, said Cameron.

The same is true when it comes to developing affordable housing.

After conversations with the mayor of Kelowna, B.C., Cameron is broaching the idea of municipal bonds.

The concept would allow Yukoners to invest in things like affordable housing units by paying into bonds that could then be handed to developers as an enticement to build what the city needs, said Cameron. Eventually, residents would be paid back, like a shareholder or lender.

He’s still researching the idea, and isn’t even sure whether the bonds are allowed under the territory’s legislation, but it’s worth discussing, said Cameron.

Cameron is also advocating for citizen patrols within the city, especially in spots known for alcohol and drug use and vandalism, like around the waterfront and clay cliffs.

And he supports the cleanup of the old Whitehorse Copper mine, through an American company’s tailings-mine proposal. Concerns about noise can be handled and regulated as the project begins, he said.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

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