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This week’s mailbox: Energy bills pushing cost of living too high; concerns over snow machines in Ibex Valley wetland

Energy bills push cost of living over

Energy bills push cost of living over

I am extremely concerned about my family’s ability to live in the Yukon. I have lived here since 1987 and my children were born here. My immediate family live here. I own my own home (have a mortage). I live in a mobile home up in Lobird and I pay pad rent.

I work for YTG as a Registered Nurse and I have a good income, or so I thought. I have only a single income. I have a vehicle I am making payments on. That is my debt load, yet the cost of living is so high I am having to choose between heating my home or feeding my family.

I have to have a vehicle to get to work and get my kids to school. I have had to turn my heat down from 18 degrees to 15.5-16 during the day and 13 after 11:30. My gas is still costing me close to $500 a month and that is considered cheap for some. My hydro isn’t much better and I make sure things that are not being used are unplugged.

I have house insurance and car insurance. You have to have internet these days to interact with the world and I dont have a large plan.

We don’t eat out, we don’t have snowmobiles, or have extracurricular activities. I cannot afford things like the CGC, sports equipment, etc. I buy our clothes from secondhand stores and I keep my credit card under $500. I cannot afford the gas for my car, the fuel for my home, or the hydro. Fuel and hydro continue to go up, yet my wage doesn’t reflect the cost of living. Food keeps going up and the quality is poor.

Something has to change. How are people who do not have my income and benefits even surviving? My parents are on a fixed income and I am worried for them.

I am not an entitled whiner. I know I have more than most and yet why am I struggling so hard? I’m concerned I may have to try and utilize services meant for lower income families.

How did it come to this? Where is the wake up to the fact that the customers will soon not be able to pay for their utilities at all and the utility companies will lose their income then. It seems like a no-win situation.

I am truly scared about the next winter. I am worried I have no options. Why is our government not giving Yukoners subsidies to off set the costs of fuel and hydro. If I went to electric heat, my costs would be even higher. What is happening? What can be done to change this? If I am hurting how is the rest of our population surviving?

A Whitehorse resident

Ibex Valley wetland treated like a gravel pit

I have lived in the Ibex Valley for 34 years near wetlands that were set aside as a protected open space in the hamlet. For three winters now, one of the wetlands has been flattened over by snow machines, destroying some of the muskrat pushups. The damage is evident in the spring, exposing the ice scars of snowmobile tracks over wrecked pushups. Yes, they don’t damage the ground itself, but they sure do affect what lives under snow. I can understand the pleasure of going fast and racing in circles on snow machines but wetlands should be left alone. Snow machines should be limited to make one access in and out on wetlands and stick to that trail the way trappers do.

There are other areas nearby with powder snow for snow machines like gravel pits, slopes, ditches and Scout Lake. Unfortunately, Yukon regulations exclude snowmobiles from off road vehicles (ORVs). Regardless, we all need to treat the wetlands as special places, not as snow machines’ playgrounds. The small mammals under snow and push-ups from muskrats are relying on soft snow to keep from freezing and damage. Same for the Boreal owls that need soft snow to dive in for small mammals. When the snow is so compacted, this is no longer possible.

I erected mesh cones over some of the early winter pushups for protection and as a reminder for snow machines to stay away. This intervention has limitations because it does not protect later pushups which are built under more snow and become invisible.

Wetlands are fragile, even in the winter, to disturbance. These wetlands are also interconnected in many ways, and affecting one disturbs the others. For example, in early spring and early winter, a muskrat will open a pushup to come out for an outing to travel on snow to another wetland. Then, return back in their dome to seal it again to prevent freezing. In early December, I have observed a new pushup built where a muskrat had chewed through nine inches of ice! and apparently, only muskrats can chew ice this way. I find these adaptations to be amazing and like to track them.

I used to invite Hidden Valley Elementary School students with teachers for outings on the wetlands to learn about the ecology during the different seasons. The children enjoyed hands-on learning about this environment and how to show respect for the animals that live there. I do not want to bring school groups in early spring on any wetlands trampled by snow machines. I find this very discouraging.

Please neighbors; let’s respect this special place before it is too late.

Yours truly,

Rene Rivard