As the Oct. 21 Whitehorse municipal election approaches, voters are hearing from candidates via a variety of election forums around town along with candidates’ own individual efforts to campaign.
The Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce hosted both a mayoral and a councillor forum Oct. 13 and 14 respectively, with the Volunteer Bénévoles Yukon following up its Oct. 6 non-profit mayoral forum with an online councillor forum on Oct. 13. Another forum hosted by CBC is scheduled for Oct. 18 and can be heard on radio or viewed on Facebook from 7:05 to 8:30 p.m.
A total of three candidates — Patti Balsillie, Laura Cabott and Samson Hartland — are running for mayor with another 17 seeking the six seats available for councillors.
Throughout each of the forums held this week, issues around housing, community safety, climate change and support for non-profits were addressed.
For many candidates, including the three running for mayor, their platforms aim to address those same issues.
As Laura Cabott outlined, her three main priorities during the chamber’s mayoral forum are supporting the business community, creating more housing and taking action on climate change.
While Cabott and Hartland, both current city councillors, highlighted their efforts on council, Balsillie, who has not served on council, focused on her career in tourism and small business advocacy stressing that a “vote for Patti is a vote for change.” She highlighted a number of former mayors who did not serve on council before being elected to the role.
Balsillie proposed a “government overhaul,” noting council could use the energy that goes into the many meetings council attends to instead engage with the community more.
“I represent change,” she said, also pointing out that housing is an issue of many variables to be addressed.
Hartland, meanwhile, argued one of the “big keys” to dealing with housing will be in completing the Official Community Plan, a document that acts as a guide to planning for the city. There will be opportunities to identify areas for future growth with much of that also depending on plans by First Nations, he said.
Hartland also outlined efforts that could be made to work with the private sector on issues around traffic and parking downtown and noted he would like to see advisory committees established again at the city level.
Cabott highlighted her plans to hold a housing summit held within the first 100 days of office as well as add more citizen advisory groups to the city.
Council candidates also made efforts they would like to see to address the major issues with many noting the need for the next council to work with organizations and groups towards solutions.
Many also spoke to the need for improved enforcement of the vehicle-for-hire bylaw to ensure cab safety during the VBY forum, highlighting safety issues in cabs.
The chamber’s forums are available for viewing on its Facebook page.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at email@example.com