Taxes rankle businesses

The city doesn't need to raise taxes, it needs to use its imagination. "Let's be creative and not just rely on tax increases," said Rick Karp, the president of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce.

The city doesn’t need to raise taxes, it needs to use its imagination.

“Let’s be creative and not just rely on tax increases,” said Rick Karp, the president of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce.

The proposed four per cent tax increase in this year’s operating budget is well above both the regional and national rates of inflation, and will stifle city growth, he warned.

“The city is not showing leadership or sustainable development,” Karp said in his address to council Monday.

“This budget attacks our most vulnerable citizens,” he said. “There is a large group of people in Whitehorse who are disenfranchised, and this group is hurt every time a budget like this comes out.”

The Chamber of Commerce wants to see the city take another look at streamlining its operation before it embarks on another round of tax increases.

“I agree with you,” said Coun. Ranj Pillai.

When running for election last year, Pillai said that continued tax increases were pushing families out of the city and eroding the tax base.

However, a moderate tax increase is necessary said Pillai.

“There is a one per cent increase for transit,” he said. “Lots of people work in retail who need a viable transit system.”

Transit and inflation combined would mean a tax increase of three per cent.

While the Chamber is supportive of the new transit plans, they challenged the city to think outside of the box to find other sources of revenue.

That got Cam Kos thinking.

“Has the city considered changing the tax rate to encourage people to develop?” asked Kos.

He suggested the city raise property taxes on vacant or derelict lots that are being held for speculation.

“I’m probably going to get some angry calls from friends,” he said. “But they should be developing the land.”

Putting something like that in place would be complicated, said Mayor Bev Buckway.

“Who’s going to determine what’s derelict and not?”

When asked about the old Canadian Tire building that has been sitting idle for years, Buckway said the city has had discussions with the property owners many times to see what’s holding things up.

“The owners have their own reasons,” she said, but would not elaborate.

The city has looked at ways to save money, but without cutting services the city has only so many options.

“We’re limited how we can raise taxes,” said Buckway. “We don’t have industry here, so it does fall to the property owners. It’s not a real comfortable place for a municipality to be in.”

Contact Josh Kerr at

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

Just Posted

The new Yukon Liberal caucus poses for a photo during the swearing-in ceremony held on May 3. (Yukon Government/Submitted)
Liberal cabinet sworn in at legislature before house resumes on May 11

Newly elected MLA Jeremy Harper has been nominated as speaker.


Wyatt’s World for May 5, 2021.… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speak at a COVID-19 update press conference in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. They formally announced that as of Nov. 20, anyone entering the territory (including Yukoners returning home) would be required to self-isolate with the exception of critical service workers, those exercising treaty rights and those living in B.C. border towns
Vaccinated people won’t have to self-isolate in the Yukon after May 25

Restaurants and bars will also be able to return to full capacity at the end of the month.

An RV pulls into Wolf Creek Campground to enjoy the first weekend of camping season on April 30, 2021. John Tonin/Yukon News
Opening weekend of Yukon campgrounds a ‘definite success’

The territorial campgrounds opened on April 30. Wolf Creek was the busiest park seeing 95 per cent of sites filled.

The site of the Old Crow solar project photographed on Feb. 20. The Vuntut Gwitchin solar project was planned for completion last summer, but delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it back. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Old Crow is switching to solar

The first phase of the community’s solar array is already generating power.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
One new case of COVID-19 in the Yukon

Case number 82 is the territory’s only active case

Flood and fire risk and potential were discussed April 29. Yukoners were told to be prepared in the event of either a flood or a fire. Submitted Photo/B.C. Wildfire Service
Yukoners told to be prepared for floods and wildland fire season

Floods and fire personelle spoke to the current risks of both weather events in the coming months.

From left to right, Pascale Marceau and Eva Capozzola departed for Kluane National Park on April 12. The duo is the first all-woman expedition to summit Mt. Lucania. (Michael Schmidt/Icefield Discovery)
First all-woman team summits Mt. Lucania

“You have gifted us with a magical journey that we will forever treasure.”

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

Whitehorse goings-on for the week of April 26

The Yukon Department of Education in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. The department has announced new dates for the 2021/2022 school year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Yukon school dates set for 2021/22

The schedule shows classes starting on Aug. 23, 2021 for all Whitehorse schools and in some communities.

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: rent caps and vaccines

To Sandy Silver and Kate White Once again Kate White and her… Continue reading

Most Read