Property assessments and an interim 911 service for Yukon communities were the hot topics at the recent annual meeting of the Association of Yukon Communities in Dawson City.
The 911 debate was renewed last month, when a 19-year-old man was rescued from a house fire in Dawson City by a Good Samaritan, who had been shouting to witnesses to “call 911.”
Currently, dialing 911 in all of the communities outside of Whitehorse results in dead air.
The resolution put forward notes “the urgency of having a permanent 911 solution as soon as possible.”
The proposed resolution would allow those outside 911 range to dial 911 and receive “auto-select” options, such as dialing “1” for police and “2” for the fire department.
John Streicker, a Whitehorse city councillor, said that the Yukon government and NorthwesTel could get this auto-select system in place in a “heartbeat,” but it doesn’t meet the regulations of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s definition of basic 911 service, which requires a live operator.
Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis said finding a solution on the 911 issue is “a real moving target.”
“We’re blessed in Whitehorse to have the system we have,” he said. “It gets complicated with the CRTC regulations but we’re pushing forward to find a solution.”
Another resolution calls for clarity over property assessments, with “timely communication and cooperation between the property and assessment department with municipalities when dealing with changes to the tax roll properties in municipal boundaries.”
“We’ve got queries about how the assessments are calculated and would like the ability to get some clarity around how it works and what goes into it,” said Streicker. “We know it’s a formula but it’s not always easy to see what’s going on with it.”
Earlier this year, Whitehorse lawyer Graham Lang suggested changes to the system after discovering that some Whitehorse residents pay considerably more in property tax compared to other homes of comparable market value.
“We want to make sure the municipalities are well informed with what’s going on,” said Streicker. “That way we can detect if there’s been a mistake or not.”
Another resolution asks the Yukon government to review and expand the designated material regulations to include special waste and Phase 1 hazardous waste materials.
Earlier this month amendments were made to the Environment Act to enable changes to take place, including the ability to ban hazardous substances and allow inspection on private lands in hopes of reducing risk to human health and the environment.
And municipalities are pushing for the territory to expand the kinds of beverage containers eligible to be covered by recycling programs. A spokesperson for Environment Yukon said the department isn’t yet ready to speak to any forthcoming changes.
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