The race is on for city council

With his Quebecois accent, no one is going to mistake Jean-Sebastien Blais for a lifelong Yukoner, but he's still hopeful about his prospects in the municipal election this fall.

With his Quebecois accent, no one is going to mistake Jean-Sebastien Blais for a lifelong Yukoner, but he’s still hopeful about his prospects in the municipal election this fall.

Blais is running for a seat on Whitehorse city council.

“I just want to be seen as a guy who wants to give back to his community,” he said. “I know it’s a cliche, but what can you do?”

It’s the first time the 34-year-old father of two has run for office, though politics has been a lifelong passion, he said.

“I see city council as an opportunity to contribute positively to the city,” said Blais.

With a master’s degree in political science, specializing in public consultation, from University of Laval and experience working for a public consultation firm in Toronto, Blais said he’d like to help the city improve the way it communicates with the public. Putting up ads and holding a public meeting is not the most effective way of consulting with the public, said Blais.

“Hardly anybody shows up and the people that do either want to kill the project or want to cheer for the project,” he said.

In that kind of adversarial environment, “it’s difficult to have a good discussion on the future of the city.”

Improving the process would likely slow things down but it often leads to better outcomes, he said.

He’d also like to see the city work to improve infrastructure to better ensure the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, especially in the winter.

Along Wann Road, near where he lives in Porter Creek, there are no sidewalks.

“We have many kids and teenagers walking around that street, especially around Goodies and it’s not very safe,” he said.

He’d also like to work to help promote increased development along the city’s waterfront.

Developers have done a very good job so far but there’s still room for improvement, said Blais.

“We have so many parking lots around the new library,” he said. “My idea is that we can turn those parking lots into something better.

“We have so many beautiful buildings around. We need to work on the surrounding areas.”

Originally from Quebec City, Blais and his wife came to the Yukon three years ago.

It was his idea to come to the North but her idea to move to the Yukon.

“As a good husband, my wife was the leader of the project,” said Blais with a smile.

His father-in-law worked as a doctor at the Whitehorse General Hospital in the late 1970s so they had some contacts in the city.

Still, without a job or any real prospects, the first six months were tough, said Blais.

“When I came to Yukon, I walked along Second Avenue and I made two wishes,” he said. “I wanted to work with Council of Yukon First Nations and I wanted to be on the Yukon Human Rights Commission.”

By the end of the year he had achieved both goals.

The experience he has working with First Nation governments would be an asset to city council, he said.

“The City of Whitehorse needs to work with First Nations, and I believe that my links with First Nations can help city council to have a better discussion with them regarding the future of our city.”

Right now, he works for the Yukon government, and is vice-president of the Association franco-yukonnaise, but with his term on the Human Rights Commission coming to an end he’s looking for other ways to make a positive contribution to the community.

“My wife said, ‘JS, you’re too busy,” but you know, it’s something that we enjoy, civic involvement is very important for us,’ said Blais. “I cannot see myself not being involved.”

The municipal elections are scheduled for October 18.

Contact Josh Kerr at

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

Just Posted

The primary goal of the new relief package for tourism operators is to support the tourism sector, whether they’re private industry or not-for-profit organizations, said Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie McLean. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Relief program offers funds for businesses that rely on tourists for more than half their revenue

Two new streams of funding, in addition to the accommodation relief program, were announced

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: Climate emergency, lite edition

Back in September 2019, Whitehorse City Council declared a climate emergency, to… Continue reading

Yukon Employees’ Union says a lack of staff training and high turnover at the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter is creating a dangerous situation for underpaid workers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Employees’ Union says lack of training at emergency shelter leading to unsafe situations

Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost said the staffing policy “is evolving”

Justice Karen Wenckebach will begin serving as resident judge on the Yukon Supreme Court early next year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
All-female justice roster ‘a good step’ for diversity in Yukon Supreme Court

Karen Wenckebach is the third woman appointed to the Yukon Supreme Court in history

The Liberal government blocked a motion by Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers that would have asked the federal government to provide the territories with more than a per capita amount of COVID-19 vaccine doses during initial distribution. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Party says a per capita distribution of vaccines would leave Yukon short

The opposition is also asking the government to release their plan for vaccine distribution

A sign outside the Yukon Inn Convention Centre indicates Yukoners can get a flu vaccine inside. As of Dec. 4, the vaccinations won’t be available at the convention centre. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse Convention Centre ends flu vaccination service early

Flu vaccinations won’t be available at the Whitehorse Convention Centre after Dec.… Continue reading

COMMENTARY: Land use planning must include industry

Carl Schulze Special to the News This commentary is a response to… Continue reading

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Nominations continue to be open for Northern Tutchone members of the White River First Nation to run for councillors in the 2021 election. (Maura Forrest/Yukon News File)
White River First Nation to elect new chief and council

Nominations continue to be open for Northern Tutchone members of the White… Continue reading

The Town of Watson Lake has elected John Devries as a new councillor in a byelection held Dec. 3. (Wikimedia Commons)
Watson Lake elects new councillor

The Town of Watson Lake has elected John Devries as a new… Continue reading

The new Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation council elected Dec. 1. (Submitted)
Little Salmon Carmacks elects new chief, council

Nicole Tom elected chief of Little Salmon Carcmacks First Nation

Submitted/Yukon News file
Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to the unsolved homicide of Allan Donald Waugh, 69, who was found deceased in his house on May 30, 2014.
Yukon RCMP investigating unsolved Allan Waugh homicide

Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to an unsolved… Continue reading

A jogger runs along Millenium Trail as the sun rises over the trees around 11 a.m. in Whitehorse on Dec. 12, 2018. The City of Whitehorse could soon have a new trail plan in place to serve as a guide in managing the more than 233 kilometres of trails the city manages. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
2020 trail plan comes forward

Policies and bylaws would look at e-mobility devices

Most Read