Being a Whitehorse city councillor is thankless job, but as a former auditor with the Canada Revenue Agency, Jocelyn Curteanu is used to that kind of thing.
But the 42-year-old mother of four isn’t running for a seat on city council to win accolades.
“I’m not looking for anybody to thank me for anything,” said Curteanu. “What I’m looking for is positive change with the work that I do.”
While her work with the CRA might not have made her the most popular person, it has prepared her well for a seat on city council, she said. “I’ve been working with numbers for as long as I can remember, balancing budgets.”
But while fiscal responsibility is crucial, it’s certainly not everything, she said.
“Budgets are important, I recognize that, but what’s the point of delivering a service that’s not meeting the needs of the population?”
For instance, transit.
While the city has been working to improve the system and ridership has increased, it still a long way to go, said Curteanu.
“There is still limited bus service at night and none Sundays,” she said. “But life for most people around here doesn’t stop on Sundays.”
Residents hit the hardest are low-paid workers in the service industry and students – those who are least likely to be able to afford a car.
“Isn’t hospitality one of the major industries?” she asked. “It’s shift work. They work all day and all night. How are these people supposed to get home?”
For those with mobility issues, the problem is even worse.
Booking a ride with the city’s Handy Bus service has to be done a week in advance.
In other cities, riders only have to give 24 hours notice, said Curteanu. “Let’s get some transit that is more conducive to what people need.”
Housing is another issue that she thinks the city can do a better job on.
Curteanu wants the city to look at the viability of using some of Whitehorse’s underused and abandoned buildings as affordable housing. At the very least, the city should develop a policy to prevent affordable rental housing from being turned into condos, she said.
“We do have a really low vacancy rate and we should have a means to regulate that so we don’t have to throw people out on the street.”
While the housing issue isn’t strictly a municipal responsibility, that doesn’t mean the city can’t be more proactive, said Curteanu.
“It’s not enough for the city to just wash their hands of it and say, ‘It’s not our responsibility,’” she said. “All levels of government are accountable to the people and they have a shared responsibility to deliver the best that they can.
“If that means working together, then so be it.”
Originally from the Philippines, Curteanu moved to Canada when she was only six, settling in Vancouver.
In 2006, Curteanu moved to Whitehorse to take a job managing the local CRA office. Three years later she moved to Alberta, but they missed Whitehorse too much, she said.
She and her family moved back in February 2011, and bought a house in Cowley Creek.
“We’re not going anywhere else,” she said. This is it.
“I think this is where I’m going to be buried.”
The Yukon is a great hidden secret that has a quality of life and a community spirit second to none, she said.
“It’s a cold environment but a warm place.”
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