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What Yukon communities want to see in the federal election

·2 min read
Lee Bodie (left), mayor of Carmacks, and Gord Curran (right), Teslin mayor and president of the Association of Yukon Communities, are weighing in on what issues matter to them most this federal election. Housing, infrastructure, land development and community well-being top the list. (Dave Croft/CBC - image credit)
Lee Bodie (left), mayor of Carmacks, and Gord Curran (right), Teslin mayor and president of the Association of Yukon Communities, are weighing in on what issues matter to them most this federal election. Housing, infrastructure, land development and community well-being top the list. (Dave Croft/CBC - image credit)

A lack of available housing is causing major headaches for Yukon's communities, and community leaders are hoping the next federal government will provide funding to speed up the process of building more homes.

Lee Bodie, the mayor of the Village of Carmacks, says it's been a problem for "many, many years."

"We have nothing to rent, nothing to sell and no lots to build on."

He says the housing shortage is seriously hampering the local economy and the municipality's ability to attract and retain staff.

"I manage a large grocery store and we did a million dollar renovation 10 years ago, and we still cannot open up the lower level to the public because we don't have the staff to man that section because there's no place to put the people," said Bodie, who is currently housing some of the store's staff in his three-bedroom house.

Philippe Morin
Philippe Morin

Gord Curran, mayor of the Village of Teslin and president of the Association of Yukon Communities (AYC), says housing shortages are affecting small municipalities across the territory.

He says the cause of the shortage is three-fold: not enough lots are being developed, a lack of funding, and difficulties attracting developers willing to build in rural areas.

Curran is hoping the federal government will work in partnership with the territorial government to help speed up the process of land development and provide additional funding.

"I'm just glad to see housing on the radar," said Curran about this election. "But it's probably a little overdue."

Modernizing infrastructure

Maintaining, if not enhancing, federal funding for developing infrastructure is crucial for small communities, said Curran.

"Yukon municipalities don't have the property tax base to modernize and build essential infrastructure," he said.

"A lot of it is infrastructure you don't see… You'll see the recreation buildings and things like that, but [you won't see] water, sewer, those services that make our community a great place to live."

Community health and well-being

Curran and Bodie both said the pandemic has highlighted the importance of rural mental health services.

"We provide recreation services that rely heavily on territorial and federal funding, and those activities are really important for community health and community well-being," said Curran.

Bodie is also hoping to see Carmacks get federal funding for a piped water system. Now, the community's water is supplied through groundwater wells and is treated at a local water treatment plant. Most community members have to go to the water plant in town to collect water for their homes, but Bodie would like to see money for the community to install pipes that would deliver water directly to people's homes.

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