Housing tops list of 6 priorities for Whitehorse city council

·2 min read
Whitehorse city hall. City council unanimously voted in favour of adopting six strategic priorities it will focus on from now until the end of its term in 2024. Housing tops the list of priorities, followed by engagement, accessibility, safety, climate change and adaptation, and service excellence. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC - image credit)
Whitehorse city hall. City council unanimously voted in favour of adopting six strategic priorities it will focus on from now until the end of its term in 2024. Housing tops the list of priorities, followed by engagement, accessibility, safety, climate change and adaptation, and service excellence. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC - image credit)

Whitehorse's city council has set its road map for the next two years.

In a unanimous vote, councillors adopted six strategic priorities, outlined in the 13-page City of Whitehorse Strategic Priorities 2022-2024.

Housing tops the list.

Coun. Ted Laking said that sends a "huge signal to the community."

"We're looking at things like planning the next subdivision. We're looking at things like streamlining, permitting and even getting commercial land out," he said.

Housing was a central part of the mayor's and the councillors' campaigns during the last municipal election, in October 2021.

In the 13-page document, it states that while the city has continued to increase the housing supply, it hasn't been able to keep up with demand over the last decade.

"[It] has created other impacts and barriers to affordable housing, types of accommodation, and housing suitability," the document states.

Other priorities

The other priorities are engagement, accessibility, safety, climate change and adaptation, and service excellence.

The priorities inform the development of capital and operating budgets and guide the work done by the city's administration, according to interim city manager Jeff O'Farrell.

Members of the city council worked with a consultant and city staff to develop the priorities in facilitated sessions from January to March.

"I think we all worked pretty hard on this, discussing all the topics and coming to a consensus on what's important to the majority of us,' said Coun. Melissa Murray.

She pointed out that one of the priorities is increasing accessibility for all, "not just for seniors, elders, mothers with strollers, people who have accessibility issues like that. I think it's important."

Coun. Michelle Friesen said there are "many great things" in the priorities but added she's looking forward to including an Indigenous to the priorities as council moves forward.

Laking added it was important to him that snow removal was referenced in the priorities. He said it's been an issue given the amount of snow Whitehorse has had over the last two years.

"I think it sends a signal to our citizens that we heard them and we listened to them," he said.

Laking added that he was particularly interested in evaluating options to expand access across the Yukon River.

"This is an important one that I think a number of members of our community are hoping that we plan for the future and take a look at," he said.

Deputy mayor Kirk Cameron said he's hoping the city's citizens give councillors feedback on the priorities.

Mayor Laura Cabott said she was proud of the work that went into developing the document that list the priorities.

"It's very ambitious," she said. "But now it's, you know, sleeves up and forward on we go."

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