Housing, environment top Yukon election issues

Two major issues in the Yukon election are housing and the environment. With a booming economy, many still cannot find housing. And all the parties, except for the Yukon Party, want the Peel River watershed protected from industrial development.

Candidates talk Peel watershed protection and lack of affordable housing

Residents of the Yukon will go to the polls Tuesday, and the reigning Yukon Party is hoping for a third straight majority.

Thanks to the mining industry, the economy is strong and jobs are plentiful.  But some issues, such as the environment and housing, have dogged the campaign.

A proposal to save 68,000 sq. km. of land in the northern part of the territory has emerged as a major election issue.

Candidates have voiced their opinions on the Peel River watershed throughout the campaign.

People have been protesting the lack of affordable housing and homelessness in Whitehorse by camping out on the Yukon legislature's lawn since June. (CBC)

An independent commission recommended 80 per cent of the area be withdrawn from mineral exploration.

The pro-mining Yukon Party refuses to put its position on the table, saying there's one more round of consultation scheduled and it doesn't want to comment before that.

"That is why I want to stop this politics of division, cool off this rhetoric and bring everybody back to the table," he said during a recent leaders' forum.

Liberal leader Arthur Mitchell responded by saying most Yukoners agree the Peel needs protecting.

"The rhetoric I keep hearing, Mr. Pasloski, is your rhetoric when you keep telling Yukoners ‘what are they going to give up?’," Mitchell said.

The NDP, the Green Party and the Yukon First Nations Party also favour protection.

They say it’s not economical to develop mineral deposits in the Peel, some of which were first identified in the early 1960s.

The parties say pristine wilderness will be a commodity in the future.

Housing has also emerged as an election issue. The average house price in Whitehorse hit a record high between April and June, sitting at $427,000.

New home construction has not kept up with demand and a tent city emerged in June on the lawn of the Yukon legislature.

The people camped on the lawn in Whitehorse are protesting the lack of affordable housing and the extent of the city’s homelessness.

All the while, temperatures are dropping.

"I’ve admitted this to myself since I got here," says Brad, who lives in one of the tents. "You’ve got two options: go south or get housing. Guess I’ll be going sooner than later."