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WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Party Official Opposition is suggesting the Liberal government revisit and streamline the Better Buildings Program to make it more accessible for rural Yukon communities instead of simply cutting funding. After Yukoners have been slow to access funds, the Liberal government cut $1 million from this year’s program, instead of revising the parameters so it works for users.
After being forced to adequately consult Yukon municipalities in 2021, the government received support to pass the enabling legislation in the Spring of 2022. However, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources admitted uptake to the program has been slow, stating so far only six applications have been approved, and only one of those was from rural Yukon.
“The Minister committed to a target of retrofitting 2,000 residential, commercial, and institutional buildings in the next 6 years,” said Community Services Critic and Watson Lake MLA Patti McLeod. “We would encourage the Minister to revise the program to make it more accessible to Yukoners living in rural communities so the program can operate as it was intended.”
The program’s lack of uptake puts the goal of retrofitting 2,000 residential, commercial, and institutional buildings by 2030 well behind schedule. The building target has been promoted by ministers as a key component of the Liberals’ climate strategy. Failing to deliver makes it challenging to meet the Yukon’s legislated climate emission reduction targets.
“During the original debate on the legislation, we heard from several municipalities that had concerns with the program, especially from rural Yukon,” added McLeod. “Even after the government agreed to make changes to the program, several mayors and councils have expressed concern that this program is going to be very difficult for rural Yukoners to access. With only one successful applicant from the communities so far, this was indeed true.”
With the Liberals cutting $1 million of the $1.5 million allocated to the program this fiscal year, fewer Yukoners can now apply and access funding.