Liberals Turn Former High Country Inn Into Boondoggle

WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Party Official Opposition is concerned that a long-delayed housing project at the old High Country Inn on 4th Avenue in Whitehorse is far over budget and now a boondoggle for Yukon taxpayers after Premier Ranj Pillai went back on his word. At the Yukon Chamber of Commerce budget lunch in the spring of 2023, the Premier responded to a question on the issue and made it very clear that the Yukon Government was not going to invest any further money into the project.

The Liberals’ model for developing this housing project now means Yukon taxpayers will get far less housing than they should for the money invested. Tens of millions of dollars are now committed to finishing this project, and Thursday’s announcement by the Liberals appears to be putting good money after bad.

The project first went forward under the recommendation of the Yukon Housing Corporation to the City of Whitehorse under the federal Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) 2.0 Cities Stream. The January 2022 announcement had renovations of the old hotel completed that fall. The project received a total of $15 million from the federal government, which included $10 million to purchase the building. The renovation plan fell apart after costs soared to over $30 million, far beyond the original estimates.

On February 29, 2024, the Yukon Government announced a new total construction cost of $42.1 million, committing $12.9 million for the project, of which only $7.9 million is earmarked for construction and renovation.

“While the Yukon Party agrees we need more housing, the territory remains in a Liberal-made housing crisis,” said Housing Critic Yvonne Clarke. “But we need to ensure taxpayers get the proper bang for their buck and this announcement by the Premier raises several questions. Who will be making up the significant funding gap for construction and where is the additional $5 million being directed? Who will be responsible for any cost overruns? Are other levels of government, federal and municipal, going to be contributing, and if so, how much?”

In contrast to the $42.1 million price tag for the High Country Inn renovation, the Cornerstone Community building provided 45 rental units at a project cost of $22.7 million. Meanwhile, many housing initiatives Ranj Pillai and the Liberal government have touted since the premier took office in January 2023 have stalled including Macauley Lodge, 5th and Rogers, new phases in Whistle Bend, and the Whitehorse Grader Station development.


Tim Kucharuk
Media Director
(867) 689-7874

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