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n WHITEHORSE CENTRE A downtown core is the heart of any city, and this one has a vigorous rhythm. It’s dirty and gritty, beautiful and…

n WHITEHORSE CENTRE

A downtown core is the heart of any city, and this one has a vigorous rhythm.

It’s dirty and gritty, beautiful and growing.

Perhaps nowhere else in the territory can you see urban change so clearly.

Modern buildings stand beside historic properties in this disparate riding bounded by the clay cliffs on one side and the Yukon River on the other.

When mapped out, its different districts begin to resemble a patchwork quilt — on one side you find derelict industrial lots and big box stores and, on the other, a blossoming riverfront sporting new landscaping and refurbished walking trails.

In between are Main Street’s gold-rush-era inspired storefronts and Old Town, tucked beside the clay cliffs, trying to retain its unique character in the face of new developments.

And the riding’s inhabitants are as diverse as its architecture.

Downtown Whitehorse boasts about 3,300 residents, and with government, retail and industry all taking up their fair share of property rights, many people come downtown to work.

At its worst you can trip over the empty mouthwash bottles littering the train tracks near the river, stick your hand on dirty syringes discarded in the parks beside the clay cliffs, and there is at least one known active drug house.

Downtown bar patrons stagger onto the streets at all hours and it’s not surprising to see a fight erupt along Main Street in the early morning hours.

At its best, downtown boasts a caring community with a determined core of residents fighting to keep drugs and crime out of their neighbourhood.

Whitehorse Centre’s incumbent MLA, Todd Hardy, flanked by groups like the Downtown Residents’ Association, has taken a stand against dealers, drug houses and the causes of crime.

And a new influx of seniors and singles are snatching up the growing number of high-end condos and apartments.

Change and growth can carry their own set of problems, said Jan Stick, Whitehorse councillor and downtown business owner.

Stick, who owns Well-Read Books located near the corner of Fourth and Ogilvie Street, is concerned that relocating Canadian Tire store will leave nothing but an empty lot across from her shop.

“I worry about this one little piece of town because I think there’s going to be a big hole.”

Candidates:

Todd Hardy, incumbent, NDP leader. He is currently in Vancouver fighting leukemia.

Jerry Johnson, YP, has lived in Whitehorse for 14 years as a civil servant and retail worker.

Bernie Phillips, Liberal, former two-term Whitehorse councillor.

How Whitehorse Centre voted in 2002:

Todd Hardy, NDP, 300

Bernie Phillips, Liberals, 218

Mike McLarnon,

Independent, 207

Vicki Durrant, YP, 171

Percentage of electors

who voted: 78

Did you know?

When Whitehorse evolved from a cluster of tents to a permanent settlement in 1901, the White Pass and Yukon Route wanted to name the place Closeleigh after its British backers, the Close brothers.

Yukon commissioner William Ogilvie overruled White Pass and the community became Whitehorse, named for the rapids that had challenged stampeders travelling the Yukon River to the Klondike gold fields. (LC)