A series of popular Yukon lakes and the communities near their shores make up the riding of Mount Lorne – Southern Lakes.
The riding stretches south from the Lake Laberge riding to the territory’s border with British Columbia, extending east from just outside City of Whitehorse boundaries and the Kluane riding to the Pelly-Nisutlin riding.
Roadways including the Alaska Highway, South Klondike Highway, Atlin Road, Tagish Road and Annie Lake Road are all part of the region, connecting communities like Mount Lorne, Marsh Lake, Carcross, Tagish, and Old and New Constabulatory.
Bennett Lake, Lewes Lake, Marsh Lake, Tagish Lake, and Little Atlin Lake are among the lakes spread out throughout the riding, which is on the traditional territory of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation.
The Kindergarten to Grade 9 Ghùch Tlâ Community School is in Carcross, as is a Yukon University campus. The region is also home to a number of home-based and tourism businesses.
Created in 2009 with the first vote happening in 2011, the riding was initially held by Kevin Barr of the NDP.
Barr ran again in 2016, but was defeated by Liberal John Streicker, who is now seeking another term. In the 2016 election, voters cast 451 ballots in Streicker’s name, compared to 437 for Barr and 284 for the Yukon Party’s Rob Schneider.
Three candidates are running in the 2021 election. They are profiled in alphabetical order.
Eric Schroff – Yukon Party
Eric Schroff has the time, energy and desire to make a difference in his home riding.
A resident of Lewes Lake with a background in both the private and public sector, who currently works as the executive director for the Yukon Fish and Game Association, Schroff said he wants to be part of a government that can look at the specific needs of a riding and balance those with the overall needs of the territory.
“To do this you really need a plan,” he said, stressing the importance to plan for the short, medium and long-term with careful consideration given to the best use of a limited budget in meeting those needs.
While Schroff has been a supporter of the Yukon Party in the past, he said he’s become more involved recently seeing greater diversity and energy in the party. Schroff described leader Currie Dixon as a “leader with vision” for the territory.
Campaigning through the riding, Schroff said many are concerned about land availability and housing, highlighting the need to have a variety of housing options available throughout the territory.
Many in the riding want to age-in-place for as long as possible.
The upcoming snowmelt and whether that might mean flooding in Marsh Lake is another big issue, though many are heartened with Yukon Energy’s move to lower lake levels in an effort to prevent that, Schroff said.
Pandemic recovery as well as the fees that have been implemented at rural landfills are also a concern with voters.
While Schroff recognized the concerns about Whitehorse residents using rural landfills to avoid tipping fees in the capital city, a situation which spawned the rural waste fees, he pointed out the impact of the fees can be seen in waste being dumped elsewhere.
There are creative solutions out there to deal with it, he said. Ideas like a sticker program where those in rural communities would get a sticker identifying them as residents of the rural community. Those with the stickers would not be charged, while anyone coming from outside the community would pay a fee.
It’s those types of riding issues Schroff said he would work to address, should he be elected as the next MLA.
Erik Pinkerton – Yukon New Democratic Party
With two young children, Marsh Lake photographer Erik Pinkerton said at a time he was growing more frustrated with politics, he was also becoming increasingly concerned about the impact decisions today have on future generations.
When he met NDP leader Kate White and heard her vision for the territory, Pinkerton decided it was time for him to take action.
White has continued to listen to constituents and put Yukoners first throughout her 10 years in the legislature, he said.
“She’s remained true to herself,” he said.
The action items outlined in the NDP platforrm — ranging from freezing rent to a cap of $100 on monthly internet bills in communities, among others — come from listening to people and what their priorities are, Pinkerton said.
With the riding made up of small communities, he is hearing unique concerns in each area, though housing, education and climate change are common threads throughout those discussions.
In some areas, housing concerns focus on those who have to come into Whitehorse for addictions treatment and are unable to find housing when they’re ready to return home; while in other communities it’s about affordability for those renting or purchasing their first home.
On education, in some parts of his riding Pinkerton is hearing about gaps in student supports, while others raise issues about Indigenous students being taught in a colonial system.
Still others who home-school their children argue there’s a need for better internet infrastructure.
Many also see the impacts of climate change and want more action taken.
Pinkerton favours moving to a proportional representation system in the territory, something the NDP proposes introducing. Moving to such a system, where parties gain seats in proportion to the votes cast in their favour, would help ensure parties work together and listen to constituents, he said.
“It’s so important we listen to people,” Pinkerton said.
John Streicker – Yukon Liberal Party
When you hear John Streicker talk about his home community, he always adds a little extra to the place name.
‘Beautiful Mount Lorne’, as he calls it, though he acknowledges the same could be said for so many regions of the Yukon.
“It’s so absolutely beautiful,” he said. “I love where I live.”
Wanting to continue serving his riding, Streicker said he decided to run for a second term after careful consideration with his wife about how he could best contribute to the community and the territory.
As he explained, being an MLA is a tough job, but one that allows him to serve his riding and the territory.
Streicker also took on the cabinet position of Minister of Community Services.
In that role he’s spent much of his time working with local governments throughout the territory. In Mount Lorne – Southern Lakes, he regularly attends meetings of the local advisory councils throughout the riding as MLA.
In that role and out on the campaign trail he’s heard “wide-ranging” issues from constituents.
Many want to ensure there are measures that will allow them to age in place, with the Liberals proposing community-based services that would allow for that to the greatest extent possible.
Others have called for universal childcare, with a new system put in place just ahead of the election that saves parents $700 per child per month.
Local governance, active living, moving towards renewable energy options and support around COVID are also on the minds of Mount Lorne – Southern Lakes voters Streicker has spoken to with the Liberal platform including a number of initiatives that would address those issues.
Streicker highlighted the Liberal government’s response to the global pandemic, stressing his belief that the right choices — many difficult choices at the time — have been made and are keeping Yukoners safe.
“You can look at the Yukon and know we’re the envy of other Canadians,” he said.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org