Whitehorse non profits spared tax hike

Whitehorse not-for-profits have been given a reprieve. City council unanimously agreed on Monday to continue to give these groups ongoing grants to help pay property taxes and utilities fees.

Whitehorse not-for-profits have been given a reprieve.

City council unanimously agreed on Monday to continue to give these groups – which range from the MacBride Museum of Yukon History to Hospice Yukon – ongoing grants to help pay property taxes and utilities fees.

In doing so, council rejected a plan proposed by the city administration that would have seen an across-the-board cut of 12 per cent to these grants in order to stay within budget. Instead, council agreed to dip into general reserves to provide an additional $20,000 for the grants. That brings total spending on the community services grants to $160,000.

“We’re extremely relieved,” said Nancy Oakley, executive director of the Yukon Historical and Museums Association Tuesday afternoon. The organization represents museums across the territory, including the Transportation Museum, the Old Log Church Museum and the MacBride Museum of Yukon History. The association had been worried the change in this year’s funding would open the door for more cuts in the future.

She appeared before council on Monday night to ask that passing the bylaw be delayed to give organizations more time to tell council their concerns.

“This move raises a lot of questions,” Oakley told council. The association didn’t get much warning that their funding could be reduced, she said. Museums are already watching their federal funding being slashed or cut altogether, she said.

“These property tax exemptions are not money wasted, but rather can be viewed as very real investments into institutions that are of great social and economic value to our community,” Oakley said Monday night.

But not-for-profits are not exempt from paying taxes, Coun. John Streicker pointed out before the vote. The city just gives them money they can use to pay these taxes.

And Mayor Dan Curtis was quick to note the financial support Whitehorse gives museums. The city gives nearly $49,000 to the MacBride Museum and the Yukon Transportation Museum to help them pay property taxes.

“We keep on talking about MacBride Museum,” said Curtis. “They’re excellent at what they do. But they’re also excellent lobbyists.” No one from organizations like Kaushee’s Place, the Yukon Association of Community Living or Hospice Yukon came forward to express concerns to council, he said.

But that doesn’t mean they weren’t worried, said Coun. Mike Gladish.

“The smaller organizations are probably quite afraid of the fact that they might be paying taxes,” he said. “I don’t think we should be looking at these groups as a source of funding for our taxes.”

Coun. Dave Stockdale told his fellow councillors he’d been against the reduction from the beginning, but wanted time to hear what the public had to say about the reductions. Not giving $19,000 to various not-for-profits after deciding to give nearly $200,000 to pay the remaining debts on Mount Sima’s chairlift “seems kind of weird,” he said.

But the city still has more work to do. Much of the discussion about this year’s grants had to do with the city’s policies. Under the city’s Community Services Grants policy, registered charities that primarily give services to the needy are eligible for money. These grants are based on the amount of property taxes each group pays.

But this policy’s formula doesn’t apply to every group the city gives cash to. Some organizations, including various museums like MacBride, have historically been given money even though they technically don’t meet the criteria for the grant. Others groups have their own leases with the city. Grants for these organizations are determined on a case-by-case basis.

The city will be reviewing all of its grants and the policies for them, said Robert Fendrick, director of corporate services. “It’s not an easy process,” he said. Some policies are new, while others are very old. Under the review, some groups may get more money, while others may get less. This review will take several months and should be ready for the upcoming budget year. The city will be asking different groups for input, but is still determining how it will do that.

Contact Meagan Gillmore at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, pictured at a press conference in October, announced three new cases of COVID-19 on Nov. 20 as well as a new public exposure notice. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New COVID-19 cases, public exposure notice announced

The new cases have all been linked to previous cases

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read