Watershed owner seeks council seat

The idea of dipping his toes in municipal politics had been at the back of Micah Quinn's mind for a while, he says. 

The idea of dipping his toes in municipal politics had been at the back of Micah Quinn’s mind for a while, he says.

So ahead of this year’s election on Oct. 15, he decided to jump in with both feet by announcing his candidacy before anyone else.

The 35-year-old entrepreneur and owner of The Watershed Coffee Shop and Bar is vying for one of six seats on city council.

He said he’s already received a lot of support and positive feedback on his decision to run.

“I feel like I’ve made a positive difference in the community, and I’ve faced a lot of challenges,” he said.

“I’ve received a lot of encouragement to serve the city in another capacity, and I thought city council would be a great way of doing that.”

Quinn’s challenges with his business were publicized earlier this summer – once after The Watershed was broken into, and once when he revealed his landlord was evicting him from the building at the end of September.

Now, he’s taking what he’s learned from those experiences and wants to make Whitehorse businesses a bit safer, he said.

This week he attended a meeting of the Community Policing Group, a body made up of various stakeholders such as the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and the RCMP that addresses local policing needs. They discussed how the spike in break-ins and vandalism this summer was affecting Whitehorse.

Quinn said if elected, he’d work with youth advocacy groups to try and reduce crime.

“I’d also like to try and find ways to make security more affordable for businesses,” he said.

“Losing merchandise and revenue because of theft, especially when you’re just starting out, can be devastating.”

Another issue he’s passionate about is reducing the amount of red tape that business owners go through in order to start their ventures.

He said he’s been frustrated in the past with certain regulations that impede the process of starting a business, and that the city could be more flexible with its rules.

“Certain things like driveway requirements, distances from buildings and how you can promote your business with signs,” he said. “We could look at how the city can work more equitably, rather than equally, with businesses as opposed to having blanket legislation that affects everyone the same.”

Quinn grew up in Smithers, B.C. before eventually studying in Australia and Ireland. He completed a bachelor of science from UBC and both a bachelor and master’s of education from the University of Ottawa. He’s also spent time working abroad as a teacher in South Korea and Japan.

Last year, he completed the Pacific Crest Trail, a 4,300-kilometre hike from British Columbia to southern California over the span of four and a half months.

It was during that trip that he realized how he wanted to spend his life going forward.

“I really got a strong sense from that experience that I wanted to give back and become more community-oriented,” he said.

“Starting the cafe was part of that and if I have the privilege of serving on city council, that would be a progression from that as well.”

Despite working up to 100 hours certain weeks, Quinn isn’t concerned about having to manage his time if elected.

He’s always had a lot of irons in the fire, he said, and isn’t unique as far as councillors owning their own businesses.

“I was extremely busy at first, but my life is a lot more manageable these days,” he said.

“I was once told, ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person.’”

As the current Yukon Scrabble champion, Quinn said he loves problem-solving and wants to bring those skills to city council.

He’s also hoping for a higher voter turnout than in previous elections.

“Municipal politics impact people’s lives more than any other level of government,” he said.

“And as a young person I feel like I can represent a different generation.”

The first day to submit nomination papers is Sept. 14 and the last day is Sept. 24.

More information can be found at: http://www.city.whitehorse.yk.ca/city-council/election-2015/candidates-for-council

Contact Myles Dolphin at


At a glance

Age: 35

Profession: cafe owner

Education: B.Sc. from UBC/ B.Ed. and M.Ed. from University of Ottawa

Years in the Yukon: seven

Neighbourhood: downtown Whitehorse

Hometown: Smithers, B.C.

Website: micahquinn.ca

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