People in Riverdale South have their eyes on two main issues — child care and crime, say the riding’s three candidates.
Its boundaries snake through the streets of the Riverdale, bounded by Peel Road, Klondike Road, Lewes Boulevard, Selkirk Street, the Yukon River to the south and Whitehorse city limits on the west.
It includes 1,299 registered electors, the Whitehorse Fish Ladder, where tourists and locals alike flock to see the yearly salmon run, the Council of Yukon First Nations offices and a handful of small businesses.
The high-cost of day care and low wages for day-care workers are contributing to a crunch for parents in the area, said Liberal candidate Phil Treusch.
“I was particularly concerned to find four young mothers who had to quit their jobs because they couldn’t find day-care placements for their children because of the current labour shortage,” said Treusch.
As for the crime, most of it is petty, like break-and-entry into houses and cars.
“People are tired of being victimized,” said incumbent Yukon Party candidate Glenn Hart.
“It’s something that’s consistently happening over the past few years.”
“One house I knocked on had five instances in the past year, so I think they’re looking for somebody who can guide them on safety issues,” said Treusch.
“There lots of young teens roaming around the neighbourhood at all hours of the night and they need a place to congregate — a teen centre or a youth centre,” said NDP hopeful Peter Lesniak.
“These teens need a structured activity because obviously they aren’t getting it from their parents or they wouldn’t be out at 2 or 3 a.m. puncturing tires or breaking into cars.”
Education and health care are also two topics people have on their minds when candidates come to their doorsteps.
Traditionally the riding is home to young families, but now it’s seeing more empty nesters settling in for the long run.
Both Hart and Lesniak have heard many concerns about the city’s transit service and the lack of service on evenings and weekends, mostly from seniors.
Although transit is a municipal issue, Lesniak says territorial politicians could sit down with city reps to see how Whitehorse could access more funding to improve the system.
City issues like a proposed roundabout leading to the hospital, and infill development are also occupying voters’ minds.
Glenn Hart, Yukon Party, incumbent, former civil servant and volunteer.
Peter Lesniak, NDP, former Yukon News editor with an enthusiasm for environmental issues, like protecting the Porcupine caribou herd.
Phil Treusch, Liberal, 20 years as an officer, supervisor and case manager at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.
How Riverdale South voted in 2002:
Glenn Hart, Yukon Party,
Sue Edelman, Liberal, 332
Cary Gryba, NDP, 253
Percentage of electors who voted:
Did you know? Chinook salmon, like the ones that travel though the 366-metre long Whitehorse fish ladder each year, lay, on average, 5,000 eggs each and die shortly after spawning.
This riding, which covers the north end of the suburb, is bounded by the Yukon River on the east and Whitehorse city limits on the west.
Mostly residential, this riding also includes the Whitehorse General Hospital, the Thomson Centre, about a half-dozen day-care centres, and the highest concentration of schools in the Yukon.
And all the schools are old and begging for renovations, said NDP candidate James McCullough.
“We need a plan, not just election-time goodies,” he said.
Incumbent Yukon Party MLA Ted Staffen has also taken up the education cause.
He’s made two commitments — first, he’d advocate to get a youth centre built in Riverdale, and second, he’d work toward having FH Collins Secondary School renovated or have a new school built to replace the aging facility.
“That building is older than the Whitehorse Correctional Centre,” said Staffen.
“Frankly, I’d like to see a new school there,” he added, but stressed that wasn’t a Yukon Party commitment.
Safety issues, quality child care and protection of neighbourhood trails are other top concerns in the riding, according to Liberal hopeful Lesley Cabbot.
People are looking for quality care for their children and that means better salaries for workers, said Cabbot.
City issues like infill development, transit and traffic are also strong in voter’s minds.
Last year, Staffen teamed up with Riverdale South MLA Glenn Hart to poll the community about a proposed roundabout the city was contemplating putting into the intersection of Lewes Boulevard and Hospital Road.
The answer to the poll was a resounding “No” with 78 per cent of people surveyed against the idea.
And people are still saying “no to traffic circles” on the doorsteps, said Staffen.
Ted Staffen, Yukon Party, incumbent, business owner and consultant for energy, forestry and mining sectors. He was elected to office in 2002, and was speaker of the Yukon legislative assembly in 2003.
James McCullough, NDP, former party researcher with volunteer, private-sector and government work experience.
Lesley Cabott, Liberal, currently Whitehorse planning manager. She attended the Governor General’s leadership conference in 2004 as one of Canada’s up and coming leaders.
How Riverdale North voted in 2002:
Ted Staffen, Yukon Party, 446
Dale Eftoda, Liberal, 355
Jan Slipetz, NDP, 223
Percentage of electors who voted: 78
Did you know?
FH Collins school is named for former Yukon commissioner Frederick Howard Collins, who served from 1955 to 1962.
While in office, he worked toward improving the territory’s education system.
The school opened in 1963 with 315 students.