On The Riverbank

There are times when the governments of Yukon, Whitehorse, Kwanlin Dun and Ta’an Kwach’an First Nation don’t quite see eye to eye…

There are times when the governments of Yukon, Whitehorse, Kwanlin Dun and Ta’an Kwach’an First Nation don’t quite see eye to eye … surprise!

Waterfront development has been one of those challenging processes for intergovernmental relations. And, at the risk of over-simplifying the position of each governing body, here’s a synopsis.

The people of Kwanlin Dun and Ta’an Kwach’an have used the waterfront area as seasonal hunting and fishing camps for thousands of years.

In the current urban environment, land selection has focused on points of heritage interest as well as future economic potential.

The proposed Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre is part of a larger commercial development on the waterfront that would reclaim a portion of the riverfront for the First Nation and serve as a source of economic development and employment.

From Artspace North’s perspective, the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre would be the centre of the new cultural district with the Arts and Heritage Village to the south and the Shipyards Park outdoor stage to the north, but the project has been delayed due to federal and territorial government funding issues and the First Nation has made it clear that it will not support other waterfront development until its own project goes ahead.

Artspace North supports the First Nation’s vision for its cultural centre, but the village is now poised to move forward. So the village is caught between a political rock and a hard place with Kwanlin Dun.

Whitehorse is responsible for waterfront planning.

Since the mid-‘90s, the municipality has been developing lands along the river from Miles Canyon to Marwell as a series of trails and parks.

The fundamental objective of the municipality is to develop the land to meet the expressed needs of the community, use federal and territorial infrastructure funding wherever possible and pay for the shortfall by selling parts of the waterfront lands for commercial development.

The city prefers landscaping to buildings because grass has a lower long-term operating cost.

The city’s response to the village is, “Great idea — as long as we don’t have to pay for it.”

But in the world of public infrastructure funding, the municipality’s lack of involvement makes the achievement of cost-shared funding agreements with other levels of government that much more difficult.

That places the brunt of costs for the village on the Yukon government, and the village is caught between a political rock and a hard place once again.

The Yukon government has been “arts friendly” since the NDP governments of Tony Penikett and Piers McDonald put most of the current arts infrastructure and funding programs in place.

After two years of a comparatively unfriendly Liberal regime, the arts community held its collective breath when the Yukon Party came to power.

As it turned out, the Yukon Party demonstrated a good understanding of the value of culture to the economy and the community and has been supportive of the arts … who knew?

The village project received a vote of confidence from Premier Dennis Fentie and was adopted by Yukon government and put in the 2006-2007 capital budget.

But it’s a big-dollar decision and, as the election draws closer, who could blame it for running out the clock with further consultations.

The fate of the village will be left to the election … yet another squeeze!

This is the seventh in a series of columns about the Arts and Heritage Village proposed for the Whitehorse waterfront.

This column provided courtesy of Artspace North.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Team Togo member Katie Moen sits in a sled behind a snowmobile for the ride from the airport to Chief Zzeh Gittlit School. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Coming together: How Old Crow became one of the first communities in the world to be fully vaccinated

Team Togo and Team Balto assembled with a mission to not waste a single dose of vaccine

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. If council moves forward with bylaw changes, eating and drinking establishments could set up pop-up patios in on-street parking spaces. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Patios may be popping up in Whitehorse this summer

City considers program for downtown restaurants and bars

The Yukon Coroner's Service has confirmed the death of a skateboarder found injured on Hamilton Boulevard on May 2. Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News
Whitehorse man dies in skateboarding accident

Coroner urges the use of helmets, protective gear, while skateboarding.

The new Yukon Liberal caucus poses for a photo during the swearing-in ceremony held on May 3. (Yukon Government/Submitted)
Liberal cabinet sworn in at legislature before house resumes on May 11

Newly elected MLA Jeremy Harper has been nominated as speaker.

The Yukon Wildlife Preserve’s baby bison, born April 22, mingles with the herd on April 29. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Yukon Wildlife Preserves welcomes two bison calves

A bison calf was the first 2021 baby born at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve

A map provided by the Yukon government shows the location of unpermitted logging leading to a $2,500 fine. (Courtesy/Yukon government)
Man fined $2,500 for felling trees near Beaver Creek

The incident was investigated by natural resource officers and brought to court.

The site of the Old Crow solar project photographed on Feb. 20. The Vuntut Gwitchin solar project was planned for completion last summer, but delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it back. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Old Crow is switching to solar

The first phase of the community’s solar array is already generating power.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
One new case of COVID-19 in the Yukon

Case number 82 is the territory’s only active case

Flood and fire risk and potential were discussed April 29. Yukoners were told to be prepared in the event of either a flood or a fire. Submitted Photo/B.C. Wildfire Service
Yukoners told to be prepared for floods and wildland fire season

Floods and fire personelle spoke to the current risks of both weather events in the coming months.

From left to right, Pascale Marceau and Eva Capozzola departed for Kluane National Park on April 12. The duo is the first all-woman expedition to summit Mt. Lucania. (Michael Schmidt/Icefield Discovery)
First all-woman team summits Mt. Lucania

“You have gifted us with a magical journey that we will forever treasure.”

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

Whitehorse goings-on for the week of April 26

The Yukon Department of Education in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. The department has announced new dates for the 2021/2022 school year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Yukon school dates set for 2021/22

The schedule shows classes starting on Aug. 23, 2021 for all Whitehorse schools and in some communities.

Most Read