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

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

“The Government of Yukon is continuing to work with downtown Whitehorse community partners, businesses and residents to ensure that our capital city remains a welcoming place where all Yukoners and visitors feel safe and have access to the supports and services they need.

“We appreciate the willingness of downtown businesses and residents to engage directly with our government to let us know about their needs. Approximately 100 residents attended a Community Conversation on Downtown Safety on November 21, where we heard the need for continued collaboration and coordination with the community to ensure that downtown Whitehorse remains a place where all feel safe and welcome.

“We continue to hear from businesses in the downtown community about the work we have done and continue to do. Recently, All-West Glass Whitehorse Ltd. wrote to the Premier on behalf of the wider Whitehorse business community to acknowledge the work our government is doing and request that we release clearly defined timelines and deadlines so that the Government of Yukon and community partners can be held accountable for our work. We appreciate this feedback and understand the need for ongoing transparency. We continue to work to implement these requests.

“On Wednesday, December 13, we held a follow-up meeting with the City of Whitehorse, the RCMP, Connective, the Council of Yukon First Nations, the Department of Health and Social Services, the Department of Justice and Yukon Housing Corporation. At this meeting, partners who participated in the Downtown Whitehorse Community Partners Roundtable Discussion on October 12 were able to continue the conversation around resources that can be made available and discuss points raised by community members at the November 21 Community Conversation.

“Next week, we will hold a media conference with community partners, where we will recap our work to date, discuss next steps and release a public timeline of scheduled actions, so that Yukoners can continue to follow the progress that is being made. This will be a living document, updated as additional information is learned, as deadlines are met and as new concerns are raised.

"We continue to make progress on the following initiatives:

  • Exploring space options to decentralize some food support services, including the potential use of the old cafeteria in the Jim Smith building.
  • Placing a community outreach worker at the Whitehorse Public Library 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.
  • Engaging directly with local businesses and chambers of commerce to ensure they feel heard and supported.
  • Supporting 405 Alexander clients in their search for permanent housing by providing assistance navigating 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.
  • Decentralizing services to increase access to supports across the community.
  • Advancing work to implement the priority actions of the Substance Use Health Emergency Strategy.
  • Re-envisioning the use of Rent-Geared-to-Income units at 408 Alexander Street through a) a Request for Information from community partners and b) engagement with people with poverty and homelessness lived experience.

"And have completed the following steps to date:

  • Removing benches that block the line of sight along Alexander Street, following crime prevention through environmental design principles.
  • Hiring private security services for businesses in proximity to Alexander Street.
  • Partnering with the Council of Yukon First Nations to launch the Mobile Downtown Outreach Initiative, similar to Winnipeg’s Bear Clan Patrol.
  • 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.
  • Contracting Inspire Reconciliation Potential Consulting to facilitate the development of a strategy for community engagement, communication and education.
  • Funding a land-based healing initiative aimed at enhancing healing and wellness through connections to traditional practices on the land, which the Council of Yukon First Nations will administer.

“We will continue to engage with Yukoners on this topic as the year comes to an end and into the new year. “

Media contact 

Renée Francoeur
Cabinet Communications

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