The case of the downtown Whitehorse cabin at the centre of a disagreement over a lease between the cabin’s owner and the Yukon government is proceeding through the courts.
The owner and tenant of the cabin, named as defendants in a lawsuit by the government, will be seeking a summary trial to avoid eviction and get the lease renewal for the land they believe they are owed.
In October 2021, the Yukon government sought a court order demanding that the cabin’s occupant Eric DeLong vacate the property and that its owner Len Tarka must remove the cabin and other structures or face the costs of their removal by the government.
Prior to filing the lawsuit, the government sent a notice to vacate the property on Sept. 30, 2021. Tarka and DeLong believe that the recently expired lease must be renewed by the government. Tarka obtained the lease for the land adjacent to the escarpment at the corner of 6th Ave and Lambert Street through the government’s squatter program in the early 1990s. The program allowed residents of crown land to legitimize their occupancy of it. Tarka was given a lease rather than an opportunity to buy the land because of its location alongside the escarpment. Other structures near the steep slope have been removed over the years due to geohazard concerns.
In court documents, the government maintains that the lease term granted to Tarka was for “30 years or the life of the leasee from Oct. 1, 1991,” and does not contain any right of renewal. They further state that the Territorial Lands Act and the Yukon Lands Act restricted leases to a maximum of 30 years.
In DeLong and Tarka’s view, the lease must be renewed as long as Tarka is alive because it was granted as a “life-term lease.” DeLong said they plan to present documentation in support of this interpretation at trial.
Summary trials rely more heavily on documents or written evidence rather than oral testimony as in a standard trial. A court order filed April 22 sets out the timetable for both sides to file supporting documents and an outline of what they will be presenting ahead of a two day application hearing before the court this October.
Contact Jim Elliot at firstname.lastname@example.org