Three vie for Haines Junction’s mayor’s seat

George Nassiopoulos is going to have to fight to keep his job as mayor of Haines Junction. Two other candidates, Martin Eckervogt and former mayor John Farynowski, are vying for the position.

George Nassiopoulos is going to have to fight to keep his job as mayor of Haines Junction.

Two other candidates, Martin Eckervogt and former mayor John Farynowski, are vying for the position.

Nassiopoulos is hoping that the village will recognize the work he’s done during his two terms in office.

All told, the village has seen $11 million in infrastructure upgrades over the last six years, he said.

“It’s things that don’t make the news very often but are often very important to making the town run, like our sewer and water,” he said.

Nassiopoulos says his work isn’t done yet.

There’s a biomass electricity project in the works with the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, which would generate power from beetle-killed wood from the area. And the village is in talks with the territorial government and Yukon College to convert an unused 32-hectare Parks Canada property into an educational and scientific research facility.

“This could provide a real opportunity for us in a number of different ways, including job opportunities,” said Nassiopoulos.

But it’s another unfinished infrastructure project, a waste-gasification plant, that sparked the mayoral race.

Critics, including Farynowski, derided the plan to burn garbage at high temperatures as both costly and a potential health hazard. The village later nixed the project, citing concerns about maintenance costs.

Starting in 1994, Farynowski spent 12 years on the village council, six of those as mayor. After losing the election in 2006 he left municipal politics, but the gasifier controversy drew him back in.

It wasn’t so much the gasifier – dubbed a glorified incinerator by critics – as it was the process that upset so many people, said Farynowski.

“There was no public consultation, it was not transparent,” he said. “Mayor and council had meetings with YTG and made us a regional landfill and then they had meetings to tell us, ‘Oh by the way, were going to get an incinerator and torch everything.’”

The village still has to create a new waste management plan, which Farynowski hopes can be done with the help of the public.

“It shouldn’t be done in council chambers, that’s my feeling,” he said. “It should be open to community consultation.”

He’d like the focus of the new waste plan to be on recycling.

“I think we can achieve 85 per cent recycling,” he said. “If we can, we don’t need to torch anything and we don’t need to look for a landfill. Everything’s fine.”

Farynowski would also like to revive an infrastructure project of his own.

During his last stint as mayor, the village was looking at using hot water from the town’s artesian well to heat some of the town’s buildings.

Construction was about to begin when Farynowski lost the election. The next council shelved the project. But the potential is still there, he said.

“The study in 2005 said to do the heating in the town office and main convention centre, we would save about 50 per cent of the cost at that time in fuel. And that was at 55 cents a litre – water is still the same price.”

For Martin Eckervogt, there wasn’t any one issue that motivated him to throw his hat into the ring.

“I’m not in this because I’m mad at anybody,” he said. “I’m just offering my name up as an alternative for the community.

“I just feel I have some abilities that I think would be helpful to the town and I think I have some skills to offer,” said Eckervogt. “I’ve got a good working relationship with the First Nations and the territorial government, so I’m sure I could be an asset to the town and hopefully the voters will feel the same on Election Day.”

With only one term on the village’s council under his belt, Eckervogt may be the youngest and least experienced of the three candidates, but he’s lived in the village the longest, having grown up in the area.

He’d also like to focus on developing the village’s infrastructure.

“There is, seemingly, a never-ending issue across the territory with subdivision planning,” he said. “There’s been a couple of subdivisions put in around there in the last little while, but we’re still shy on some other types of land, such as industrial.”

He’d also like to see the village improve it’s recreation facilities, a project that the other two candidates also endorsed.

With the recently announced changes to the territory’s Comprehensive Municipal Grant – something that Nassiopoulos had a hand in negotiating – there is money available to make those kinds of improvements and pay for the upkeep, he said.

Improved infrastructure and amenities are necessary for Haines Junction to grow – something all candidates want to see.

“If you’re not making an effort to grow, you’re going to start going backwards,” said Farynowski. “In order not to become a dying community, we have to do something to get this town moving again.”

Contact Josh Kerr at

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

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, pictured at a press conference in October, announced three new cases of COVID-19 on Nov. 20 as well as a new public exposure notice. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New COVID-19 cases, public exposure notice announced

The new cases have all been linked to previous cases

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read