Whitehorse Water Concerns Highlight Need for Infrastructure Money

WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Party Official Opposition is asking the Yukon Liberal Government to prioritize new infrastructure funding to address water treatment issues faced by the City of Whitehorse.

In an October 10, 2023, letter to the City of Whitehorse, the Minister of Community Services explained that the Liberal Government was unwilling to provide any financial support for the $55 million project. The letter from Minister Richard Mostyn to the Mayor also scolded City Council for ‘second-guessing the experts’ and pushing the project off. He pointed out that water treatment facilities are the responsibility of the City of Whitehorse and not the Yukon Government. The Minister suggested in that letter the City had sufficient reserve funds to pay for this project.

Recently, the City of Whitehorse awarded a contract for the first phase of a two-phase Design-Build project. According to an update provided by City of Whitehorse administration on June 3, the municipality is still seeking funding for the project.

“Unlike the territorial government, municipalities cannot deficit finance its operations or infrastructure, so raising funds to cover the cost of critical infrastructure like a new water treatment plant can only be done by either cutting services or raising taxes,” said Community Services Critic Patti McLeod. “Whitehorse taxpayers cannot afford a massive tax hike at this time. We encourage the Minister of Community Services to improve his relationship with the territory’s largest city and work with them to ensure tax hikes are not needed for this project.”

This week, it was revealed the project has become more urgent. City administration confirmed that one of the City’s water wells was taken out of service recently due to the discovery of giardia. This means the necessity of an upgraded water treatment plant has increased.

“Now that citizens of Whitehorse have seen at least one well shut down temporarily due to giardia contamination, we hope that the Minister of Community Services will reconsider his position and help the City of Whitehorse find funding for the development of a new water treatment plant,” added McLeod. “This is not the time to play politics with infrastructure funding. The expansion of such an important water treatment plant in the Yukon’s capital city is now a health issue and should not be brushed off by this Minister and the Liberal government.”


Tim Kucharuk
Media Director
(867) 689-7874

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