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WHITEHORSE – As we enter 2023, Yukoners continue to struggle with finding a place to live amidst a Liberal-made housing crisis. Promise after promise by the Minister of Housing has gone unfulfilled as Yukoners look for any relief from the rising cost of living.
Over 40 units at 4th Avenue and Jeckell Street in downtown Whitehorse were highly anticipated and first scheduled for completion in the fall of 2021. When questioned about delays on March 30, 2022, the Minister promised the project would be ready in the summer, stating, “Just for the record, hold me to it on this answer, okay. So we’re looking at the end of June or mid-July.” As of January 2023, no residents have moved in.
“The Yukon Party Official Opposition has offered solutions to the housing crisis affecting the territory, yet the Yukon government continues to take actions that delay new units,” said Housing Critic Yvonne Clarke. “The Yukon Party has questioned delays to lot development in Whistle Bend due to cancellations and late tendering that have restrained developers’ ability to build housing to meet demand. As well, the Yukon Party has been critical of the ill-conceived rent control policy that further disrupted the housing rental market, making it more difficult for renters to find a place to live.”
One year ago in January 2022, the Minister committed to renovations at the former High Country Inn that would be ready by the end of September 2022. No substantial work has begun on that housing project to date, despite directing spending more than $16 million of federal and territorial housing funding on the project.
Under questioning on October 26, 2022 in the Legislative Assembly, the Minister committed to support the society in charge of the High Country Inn project “in any way we can”. However, the Ministers’ words again appear to be empty talk. Following his commitment, the society provided another option for the old hotel on November 2 and announced they would get a temporary occupancy permit later that month to utilize the building as temporary housing until construction begins. This has not yet happened, despite those assurances from the Minister that he would support the organization in its work.
He was also front and centre during the 2021 Liberal election housing announcement at 5th and Rogers in downtown Whitehorse, selling Yukoners on development of the lot as a solution to the territory’s Liberal–made housing crisis. Currently, the land sits vacant, with no plan for development.
Faced with criticism of his housing record in October, the Minister again deflected questions suggesting, “the (Yukon Housing Corporation) might open additional temporary shelters for unhoused Whitehorse residents if existing shelters are over-capacity this winter.” Like other projects, this promise appears to have been lip service to immediate pressure, as to date there has been no announcements or details about temporary shelters.