Sour times for the Sourdough

The Sourdough Rendezvous Society is pleading with the city for more money after the city skimped on funding for the group.

The Sourdough Rendezvous Society is pleading with the city for more money after the city skimped on funding for the group.

Monday, the society appeared at city council to ask for a guaranteed yearly donation of $16,000, an amount it has received from the city since the early ‘90s.

This year, the group got only $9,000, a “steep reduction” from what it received last year and far less than the $25,000 it had actually requested for this year’s event.

The funding only covers four per cent of the society’s budget but is nonetheless considered essential for the operation of the event, said society president Tiffany Duncan.

A better-funded festival means more tourism for the city, she added.

“It’s an iconic winter festival and it helps boost the economy.”

The society has been grappling with other funding issues lately; Hougens and White Pass dumped their funding for the Rendezvous dog sled race and the society’s choice to stage the event at Shipyards Park again has meant lost revenue from Main Street vendors.

The city’s decision to slash the group’s funding was an effort to re-distribute grants to other organizations in need.

“We tried to open it up to make it fair to others,” said Councillor Florence Roberts.

The city may consider giving the group more funding when it approves the capital budget at next week’s meeting.

What’s in a name? Apparently a lot

Whitehorse wants to play it safe when naming the city’s new public safety building.

At the end of December, it asked for suggestions on what to name the new building at the top of Two Mile Hill.

City staff originally suggested Fred Blaker, Whitehorse’s first city employee and fire chief.

Other suggestions included current fire Chief Clive Sparks, past mayor Flo Whyard, and past fire chiefs Doug Rowe and Brian Monahan.

Monahan was considered a favourite by citizens who put forward 22 submissions for his name and created a Facebook page to whip up support.

However, city administration doesn’t want any of those names gracing the side of the building.

They’d rather see it named the Whitehorse Public Safety Building and honour past fire chiefs in a separate hall of fame. That way the city doesn’t have to play favourites.

That didn’t sit well with Councillor Dave Stockdale, who wants to see the building named after Blaker.

“I don’t like a neutral name, its like a neutered name. I want something that reflects our history and culture,” he said.

“Common sense is in short supply (amongst the other councillors), he added.

“I’m not afraid of offending people … and Fred is a very worthy recipient.”

City council will decide on the name next week.

Ride free no more

The city is considering discontinuing its “ride free” transit program for people with disabilities.

Not to be confused with Handy Bus, the ride-free program ferries people free of charge on regular transit buses.

The program is being “abused” and either needs to be reconfigured or dropped, said transit manager Dave Muir.

“The only people who should be using it are those eligible under our criteria,” he said.

Right now, people on social assistance are riding for free even though they already get transit subsidies from the government, he said.

But the city may have a challenge against them if they try to get rid of the program all together.

In cities across the country, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind has lobbied for free bus passes on behalf of people who are legally blind.

Whitehorse is one of the few cities in Canada where the program doesn’t exist. A human rights complaint could quickly change that, said committee member Rick Goodfellow.

The committee voted to review the transit policy and will consider offering reduced fare for people who can prove they meet the eligibility criteria. (Vivian Belik)