Statement from Premier Pillai and Minister McPhee on downtown Whitehorse community safety

This statement has been updated to reflect that plans to place a community outreach worker at the Whitehorse Public Library will begin in November 2023. 

Premier Ranj Pillai and Health and Social Services Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee issued the following statement:

“On behalf of the Government of Yukon, we want to express our ongoing commitment to fostering safe and thriving communities across the territory.

“Downtown Whitehorse is home to incredible businesses, a strong residential community and significant and essential supports for those in need. Our government is listening to the perspectives brought forward by downtown residents, workers, business owners and service providers. We hear their concerns regarding recent reported incidents of crime, and we understand the impacts that these incidents can have on your bottom line as well as your feelings of community. We continue to work collaboratively with community partners to work towards solutions that prioritize the safety and wellbeing of everyone in our community.

“Since our last update two weeks ago, we have continued to work with partners to make progress towards the goals, priorities and recommendations in the House of Wolf and Vink Consulting reports and to enact the promises we have made to enhance community safety by working collaboratively with partners.

"We are ready to check back in with members of the downtown Whitehorse community to hear their perspectives and better understand what they would like to see as work moves forward to ensure that Whitehorse is a place where everyone feels safe, healthy, respected and supported.

“Downtown Whitehorse residents and businesses are invited to attend a Downtown Community Conversation on Tuesday, November 21 at 6 pm at the MacBride Museum. This will be an opportunity for those working and living downtown to meet with community partners, voice their concerns and discuss reasonable and viable solutions to support a safer, vibrant downtown. This will be a safe, open space for conversation and moderated discussion led by Inspire Reconciliation Potential Consulting.

“As a government, we continue to work to help maintain the strength of our business community while ensuring access to appropriate, responsive support to those who need it. Since October, we have expanded our collaboration with partners and, together, we have reached the following results:

Creating a safer downtown Whitehorse
  • The removal of benches that block the line of sight along Alexander Street, following crime prevention through environmental design principles.
  • The hiring of private security services for businesses in proximity to Alexander Street.
  • A partnership with the Council of Yukon First Nations to launch the Mobile Downtown Outreach Initiative, similar to Winnipeg’s Bear Clan Patrol.
  • Continue providing funding to First Nations governments through our Community Safety Planning program, through which First Nations governments can access funding of up to $200,000 for community safety planning and implementation.
  • Continue supporting the work of the Yukon RCMP “M” Division to combat organized crime and drug trafficking in the Yukon through an increase to RCMP funding in Budget 2023-24.
Decentralizing services to increase access to supports across the community
  • Looking at different space options to decentralize food support services. This includes leading by example and exploring the process of reopening the cafeteria in the Jim Smith building for public use and food distribution.
  • Moving forward plans to place a community outreach worker at the Whitehorse Public Library, beginning November 2023, in order to better serve clients in the community.
  • Supporting the work of the supervised consumption site as they provide a hygienic, supervised and indoor place for people to consume substances.
Listening and working with members of the community
  • Engaging directly with local businesses and chambers of commerce to ensure they feel heard and supported.
  • Moving forward plans to place a community outreach worker at the Whitehorse Public Library, beginning November 2023, in order to better serve clients in the community.
  • We have also contracted Inspire Reconciliation Potential Consulting to facilitate the development of a strategy for community engagement, communication and education.
Promoting health and wellness
  • Funding a Land-Based Healing initiative aimed at enhancing healing and wellness through connections to traditional practices on the land, which will be administered by the Council of Yukon First Nations.
  • Supporting 405 Alexander clients in their search for permanent housing by providing assistance navigating the Yukon Housing Corporation’s intake process.
  • Continuing work to establish a managed alcohol program in Whitehorse.
  • Continuing to support the work of the Mobile Crisis Response Team, also known as Car 867, a collaboration between the Government of Yukon and the Yukon RCMP “M” Division developed in response to the need for specialized mental health crisis intervention in downtown Whitehorse.
  • Advancing work to implement the priority actions of the Yukon Substance Use Health Emergency Strategy.

“These advancements have been informed by feedback received from community members and experts and brought to life through collaboration between the Yukon government and community partners, including the Council of Yukon First Nations, Connective, Kwanlin Dün First Nation, Ta'an Kwäch'än Council, the City of Whitehorse and the RCMP.

“No community in Canada is immune to the intergenerational impacts of trauma, racism, violence and colonialism. As we work together as a community to move forward and to heal, we remember that societies are judged by how they treat their most vulnerable. We appreciate how patient downtown residents, workers and businesses have been as we all work together to meet the needs of everyone in our community, and we ask for their continued support and compassion as this work continues into the new year.”

Media contact 

Renée Francoeur
Cabinet Communications

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