Steady as she goes

Don’t expect the housing crunch to ease up anytime soon. With less residential construction and an increasing population, it’s going to…

Don’t expect the housing crunch to ease up anytime soon.

With less residential construction and an increasing population, it’s going to get cozy in Whitehorse.

People are moving to the Yukon three times faster than originally forecast, according to the territorial government.

Yukon’s population grew to 33,294 in June, 3.4 per cent higher than in June 2007 and roughly triple a previous growth estimate.

The new numbers were released in the Economic Development department’s economic forecast update last month.

“We were the highest in terms of population growth, percentage-wise,” said Gary Brown, senior information officer with Yukon Bureau of Statistics.

“We’re definitely rebounding here.”

Whitehorse grew by 848 people, and the numbers in other communities grew as well.

A notable decrease occurred in Old Crow, which saw 23 people leave the community.

Originally, the Yukon bureau of statistics estimated the 2008 average population would grow to 32,500.

Now it’s projecting the year-end population will pass 33,500.

Relative to larger jurisdictions, population changes in a small place like the Yukon can seem to fluctuate wildly, said George Marchewa, government economist and co-author of the report.

But the numbers are still general indicators of economic health, he added.

The surprising population growth can be attributed to a number of factors, like the labour shortage and a foreign worker increase, mineral exploration and government spending.

This is the fourth straight year of population growth, which follows six years of decline.

Driven by mineral exploration and mine development — including a full year of production at the Minto copper mine — the territory’s economy continues its steady growth.

But oil prices and a shaky US economy — which may or may not be in a recession, depending on who one talks to — are keeping territorial economists cautious.

“High oil prices will trickle through everybody’s pocketbook, said Marchewa.

“You have to spend money on gas, you have to spend on heating fuel.”

The Yukon economy is dependent on tourism and US demand for natural resources, both of which are major reasons for continued growth.

“Should the US enter a prolonged recession, it may reduce visitation to Yukon and dampen demand [and hence prices] for commodities,” says the report.

Opposition parties have long-criticized the Yukon Party government for relying heavily on the mining sector and not diversifying the economy.

The tradition mineral economy is cyclical, but a large government sector almost ensures the territory will weather a downturn, said Marchewa.

 “(Government employment) is a baseline, it’s always there,” he said.

“It’s moderated a lot of the impacts over the years.”

Tourism was down two per cent in June, compared to the same time last year.

High fuel prices have kept American traffic away from the Yukon, says the report.

The decrease is part of a nationwide trend, but overseas tourism has kept the tourist numbers from free-falling, the report adds.

Since July 2007, the number of employed people in the Yukon has grown by 900.

The unemployment rate increased slightly to five per cent, which should be maintained until the end of the year, says the report.

Residential construction declined 2.6 per cent in the first half of 2008, compared to the same period last year.

Building permits are falling short of expectations, despite an expected decrease due to the Minto mine completion.

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your furnace and your truck need to go

Perhaps the biggest commitment in the NDP deal with the Liberals was boosting the Yukon’s climate target

Dave Blottner, executive director at the Whitehorse Food Bank, said the food bank upped its services because of the pandemic. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Food Bank sees Yukoners’ generosity firsthand

“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open.”

Air North president Joe Sparling said the relaxing of self-isolation rules will be good for the business, but he still expects a slow summer. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News)
Air North president expects a slow summer

Air North president Joe Sparling suspects it will be a long time before things return to pre-pandemic times


Wyatt’s World for May 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Neil Hartling, the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon president, left, said the new self-isolation guidelines for the Yukon are a ‘ray of hope’ for tourism operators. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon tourism operators prepared for ‘very poor summer’ even with relaxed border rules

Toursim industry responds to new guidelines allowing fully vaccinated individuals to skip mandatory self-isolation.

Most Read