Longer council terms and financial relief for municipalities impacted by COVID-19 could be the focus of two resolutions for the Association of Yukon Communities (AYC) at its annual general meeting in May.
AYC represents Yukon municipalities. Four local advisory communities share one seat collectively as associate members on the council.
Valerie Braga, the director of corporate services for the City of Whitehorse, brought forward the proposed two resolutions to go to AYC for Whitehorse city council’s consideration March 21.
As she noted, AYC invites member communities to bring forward resolutions to its AGM, scheduled this year for May 13 and 14 in Whitehorse. The resolutions set the direction for AYC’s work over the following year.
“Council members have suggested this year the City of Whitehorse submit two resolutions, one proposing that the term of office for municipal councils be increased to four years, and one proposing that the Government of Yukon consult directly with municipalities on financial relief to offset the increased costs and lost revenues experienced by Yukon municipalities due to COVID-19,” Braga said before going into detail on each proposed resolution.
First, speaking to the resolution to call on the Yukon government to increase council terms from three to four years, Braga highlighted increasing demand on municipal councils to address citizen needs at a time of population growth, climate change and programs being moved from other levels of government onto municipalities.
The resolution also calls for AYC and the Yukon government to have “an engagement process with Yukon citizens to seek their input on this change in length of term, with the engagement process taking place alongside, but separate from, the continued exploratory work by the Yukon Legislature on electoral reform at the territorial level.”
If terms of office for municipal councils were extended to four years from the current three, the change would come into effect following a future election rather than being an extension for those currently serving on council.
Meanwhile, on the resolution for financial relief for municipalities dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Braga said the territory’s communities last received COVID-19 relief funding totalling $4.35 million in early 2021. Whitehorse received $1.9 million from those funds.
The resolution highlights unanticipated, additional operating expenses communities are facing from enforcement of and support for the territory’s public health measures, as well as revenue losses in recreation; building and room rentals, transit, bylaw, property taxes and utility bills; and in interest earned.
It calls for the territory “to consult directly with municipalities on an appropriate financial relief program to offset the increased costs and lost revenues experienced by Yukon municipalities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Council will vote on the resolutions March 28. If passed, they would then be considered by AYC at its meeting in May.
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