Yukon News

YG moves to prevent new tent city

John Thompson Wednesday April 11, 2012

Ian Stewart/Yukon News

TENTCITY028

Last summer's tent city on the grounds of the Yukon government building.

The Yukon government is preparing to pull out the pegs of a future tent city as its MLAs move to pass a law to allow for the swift eviction of campers from public land.

“It’s being done as a result of what occurred last summer with the tent city at the legislative grounds, as well as the Occupy movement that happened in other places,” said cabinet spokesperson Elaine Schiman.

“It became apparent we needed a tool to use in terms of how public property is occupied and used,” she said Tuesday.

NDP Leader Liz Hanson condemned the move.

“We still have all these people coming to town, looking for work and having no place to live. The root cause is the same, and they’ve just put a great, big, self-protecting band-aid over top of it,” said Hanson.

“There’s no plan here. It’s all knee-jerk. It’s like, ‘We don’t want to look out the window and be reminded of our failure.’”

Government MLAs are preparing to amend the Financial Administration Act to give themselves greater power over “the management, maintenance, proper use and protection of public property.”

The change would “confirm” the ability of officials to create new rules - and to dole out fines to scofflaws.

It would also allow officials to confiscate personal property, abandoned by owners on public property, until fines are paid up.

These amendments come at a time when there’s talk of protesters pitching another tent city on the legislature lawn to draw attention to Whitehorse’s housing shortage.

Hanson asked what the motive was for these changes during question period on Tuesday. House leader Brad Cathers said she’d have to wait until the amendment is debated in committee of the whole.

But Schiman later elaborated.

“The goal will be to balance two equally important responsibilities,” Schiman said. “One of those responsibilities is to support people who want to exercise their democratic rights and freedoms. The other responsibility is to keep public facilities safe and accessible.

“What we’re intending to do is model what we do on federal legislation, which is already in place, and which has already been tested in the courts on the federal level and is more likely to withstand a Charter challenge. That way we’re confident we aren’t infringing on people’s rights. We certainly don’t want to do that.”

The government usually briefs opposition parties on bills it brings forward, but it hasn’t in this case, said Hanson. “It’s part of a worrying trend,” she said.

Not so, said Cathers. The government has always briefed opposition MLAs on “major pieces of legislation” but it hasn’t done so with small amendments, like the one before the house.

Last year’s tent city hit a peak of about 40 tents during the summer months. The government waited until November to evict campers. By then, the encampment had dwindled to several tents and two trailers.

The safety of campers in the extreme cold was cited by Health Minister Doug Graham as one reason for shutting the camp down. Sanitation was another concern.

14 Comments

Brian wrote:
8:21pm Sunday April 22, 2012

well said north of 60.

north_of_60 wrote:
6:11am Saturday April 21, 2012

Those who resort to ad hominem personal attacks against anyone who disagrees with their beliefs are only demonstrating what kind of people support those beliefs.  Thanks for making that clear.

can't take it wrote:
1:32am Thursday April 19, 2012

I came up here a few years ago with my family when the housing crunch was on, got a job right away and bought a house, don’t understand why others can’t. I would have pulled all the people off those grounds last year just because of the abuse of the grounds and the disgusting behavior that went on there, drugs, burning of supplied outhouses by the Gov, cleaning up garbage, human waste not to mention the tax payers dollars wasted by these bunch of ingrates. Way to go Yukon Government, I have to pay my way and you will find there are a very large amount of people that feel them same way. All I saw down there was a bunch of free loaders that wanted to stay somewhere free for the summer while they worked here then left, you bleedin hearts should shut up or give them space in your yard and you pick up the bill, get a job and find a home like everyone I know did and is doing now.

thingsmusical wrote:
4:56pm Saturday April 14, 2012

DirectAction.

If you want to protest, go paint yourself a sign and go to the Leg every day with it… wave it around and get people to honk for your cause.

And just so you are aware.. the camping pass is only available to Yukonner’s - meaning that you need a Yukon Health Care card and Yukon plates on your vehicle to get one. Once you have one - it’s gives you the ability to camp all summer at YTG campsites. That’s approximately 108 days from May long weekend to Labour Day weekend.. working out to less than .50 cents a day!! You are right, in that the length of stay is 14 days, but there are tons of places to stay.

Coming from one who knows, let me give you a tip. Move every second Monday or Tuesday. That’s when there is the least amount of people in the campsite, and you can get the nicer spots.

And you CAN sleep on dirt for free.. or at least for 200 man days. Check out the Lands Act.

Or, you could opt for the new legislation and go to jail for 6 months and pay a $1,000 fine instead….

flyingfur wrote:
8:18pm Friday April 13, 2012

North of 60:  Same old argument eh?  People who support the right to protest or who want their elected officials to do something about homelessness or affordable housing in the territory should allow people into their homes or to camp in their yards?  Apply that to all of your comments and see where you end up; if you support mining does that mean you’ll allow it in your backyard?  Putting such a surreal spin on people’s opinions to fortify your own, endind off debates with Poppa Oscar, etc…pretty childish.

Sasquatch wrote:
6:37pm Friday April 13, 2012

People we are arguing over land that was never ours in the first place. People who want to camp for free in the city are wrong and the government is wrong. Now that we’ve settled that what else can we argue about in our privileged societies.

DirectAction wrote:
3:28pm Friday April 13, 2012

Krysta - the $50 pass allows you to camp for up to 14 days every 30 days. That is not a housing solution.

The thing that you all seem to be forgetting is that the housing shortage is an issue. The government is supposed to “represent” the wants of the people, not use their power to ignore them. Therefore, I think that if the campers are being safe, then they have the right to camp on PUBLIC land to express their concern.

Don’t worry about Robert Service, plenty of the homeless Yukoners will be paying rent there soon. $500 a month rent to live on the dirt. They should either: A) Be able to rent an apartment at that price, or B) Be able to live on the dirt for free.

The bottom line is people have the right to protest when they disagree with the government who is supposed to represent them. This is a democracy, it’s public land, and there are many homeless in Whitehorse.

Twist wrote:
1:58pm Friday April 13, 2012

As news of revolution sweeps the eastern world, I truley believe it’s time it hits home and hits hard. What if the collective of those opposing the Conservative party went to the streets to protest all of these new laws and the corrupt capitalist government that currently “serves us” (not their own interests. or do I have that backwards?).

The scent of revolution is on the wind, and I say we begin to unite together and take a stand.

This is my personal opinion.

Yukon Jack wrote:
4:36am Friday April 13, 2012

Krysta - you must be part of the Yukon Party - Only the Yukon Party would pretend this is not about protesting a long-term housing/rental problem - Really… an annual pass for gov campgrounds??? Maybe we should set up a designated sight, for protesting, up the Dempster Highway

- And North_of_60 - you comment under every story that supports every moronic move the Yukon Party makes - Are you part of the Yukon Party, or just a hired blogger? -Because nobody with any level of life experience, or basic level of intelligence, would volunteer so much support, under so many articles for such a long time, for so many news agencies - do you have another job, or is this it?

Krysta Meekins wrote:
7:16am Thursday April 12, 2012

If you want to/have to live in a tent, pay $50 for the annual Yukon Camping Permit and take your pick of beautiful government campgrounds for the entire summer.  Don’t squat on public (or private White Pass) property.

Yukon Reader wrote:
5:43am Thursday April 12, 2012

I think it’s sick that the government is making rules about this public land. If you really think about it, it’s just another way of them to control like residential school. They couldn’t control the Natives so they are trying to control other people. Government of all people needs to learn how to deal with thier problems and not dumping it on other people like those who will give out the tickets. Makes me sick!

thingsmusical wrote:
1:38am Thursday April 12, 2012

I’m with North… after the stink that locals made about Wal-Mart allowing free camping (and the ensuing negotiations to limit the space in the lot they could offer that), what the hell makes anyone think that the government grounds (or any public land in town) should be available for free.

I remember the article about the poor folks up at Trail of 98 RV Park, sitting in an empty park, with a view of all their lost revenue down the bottom of the hill.

If I owned the Robert Service Campground I would be up in arms about it (tent city at the Leg.). They run a great place and their prices are VERY reasonable!!

If you want to camp and don’t want to pay for it, do like the rest of us who go find a piece of crown land, outside of city limits and abide by the Lands Act which allows you 200 man days in a non-permanent structure with a “leave no trace” policy.

I know many folks who lived at ‘tent city’ last year. They did it for the free rent, easy access to booze and dope, and the ongoing parties.

Yes, YTG and COW HAVE to address this issue, but letting people camp for free in a government park is NOT the answer.

Real Yukoner wrote:
11:47pm Wednesday April 11, 2012

The Yukon Government is just sickening - their a bunch of Harper puppets. We don’t need or want to live under more, and more, and more rules, dictated to us by incompetent, sell-out politicians. THIS IS THE YUKON - NOT ONTARIO, NOT VANCOUVER, NOT THE YUKON PARTY, AND NOT HARPER. When you steal more and more control, you take away my sovereignty, my kid’s sovereignty - everyones sovereignty. Every time I see and hear you Harper puppets, I wonder if Yukoners can see you for what you are. Leave tent city the way it is, leave the laws the way they are, and fix the problem. It’s public property, not Yukon Party Property. Did you ask us what we want? Did you fix the land disposition problem? NO! Have you read the land disposition policy? I suspect you have, because the door is wide open for corruption. Go solve some real problems, then you won’t have to create laws to protect the Yukon Party from your ignorance, stupidity, greediness and lack of leadership skills. And Pasloski - Just because you can sell drugs (Shoppers), doesn’t mean you know how to lead the Yukon people into the future.

north_of_60 wrote:
10:58pm Wednesday April 11, 2012

Put up “No Camping” signs and kick them off public property.

The NDP MLAs and other “do-gooders” can let them camp out in their yards.

Add a comment

Commenting is no longer available for this story. Commenting expires 21 days after publishing.