Squatters Row wants out

While stacking firewood, Skeeter Miller-Wright realized there was one avenue Squatters Row residents had yet to exhaust in their ongoing fight with Whitehorse. They had never requested secession.

While stacking firewood, Skeeter Miller-Wright realized there was one avenue Squatters Row residents had yet to exhaust in their ongoing fight with Whitehorse.

They had never requested secession.

The neighbourhood of about 25 to 30 voters is located on the south end of Whitehorse on the west side of the Alaska Highway, near McLean Lake.

And for 20 years they have fought quarry development around the nearby lake, infrastructure development and subdivision of their country-residential neighbourhood.

They have also demanded road maintenance they’re taxed for, but feel they do not receive.

They have attended council meetings, drafted petitions and won, and lost court battles, all to no avail.

Now, they have written the Yukon Municipal Board, requesting to be removed from city limits.

“For a matter of decades now, basically we’ve been ignored,” said Miller-Wright, who is a community spokesperson and NDP candidate for the riding.

“It’s not just ignored. We’ve made it quite clear what our interests are, what our concerns are, and what the municipality has done is ignored us, disrespected us and definitely has not done anything to address our interests and concerns.”

Stopping more quarry developments and developing a protected park around McLean Lake has been the group’s biggest battle. They tried for a referendum, after gathering 2,600 signatures from across Whitehorse, and because of the municipality’s planning decisions for the lake, they took Whitehorse to court, twice.

“In both court cases, that we won, the city simply changed the bylaw to nullify the court decisions,” he said. “They’ve never told us why it is that they are ignoring our interests and concerns. They’ve never explained why they will not reflect our interests in what they’re doing with the bylaws in McLean Lake.”

The proposed changes to city boundaries would, literally, circle the neighbourhood, creating an independent enclave.

The new border would extend to the original city limit southwest of their residences, encompassing much of the land and waterways in between, but would stop at the Alaska Highway and exclude the Philmar RV property located there.

If annexed from the city, Miller-Wright and his neighbours feel they will get more respect from the territorial government.

“Our interests have been well supported by our MLAs for over two decades, despite changes of political representation,” wrote the group in its proposal to the municipal board.

The territorial system’s use of electoral ridings allows for more accountability, whereas the municipality’s absence of a ward system leaves the area without a spokesperson, said Miller-Wright, adding this proposal has nothing to do with his current campaign to represent the region in the legislative assembly.

The Yukon Municipal Board has received the group’s application and has sent letters to Whitehorse and the territory, requesting comments or information by September 15, said Barb Evans, the board’s secretary.

But that does not mean the board will assess the request, she said. It still has to make that decision. And, even if it does, other proponents, or the courts, could challenge the board’s jurisdiction to hear the issue, she added.

“This is still an extremely preliminary stage of the process,” she said.

But McLean Lake residents are not asking for something outrageous.

The process for being added or removed from a municipality is laid out in the Yukon Municipal Act, which states the board can consider the proposal if at least 30 per cent of the affected residences support it. With the exception of a few people who are still on vacation or out in the bush, the McLean Lake group has close to 100 per cent support, said Miller-Wright.

And this has happened before.

In the 1990s, the west boundary of Dawson City was moved. And then moved back, said Evans.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at roxannes@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read