Mixed mood at Whitehorse business conference

Some small and medium-sized Yukon business owners are worried about the downturn in the economy, according to the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce.

Businesses have concerns about economy, guest speaker worries about politicians stoking racial tensions

Rick Karp, president of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, says there are reasons to be optimistic, despite the downturn in the economy. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

Some small and medium-sized Yukon business owners are worried about the downturn in the economy, according to the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce.

"There is concern out there but at the same time — with the Canadian dollar, with what's happening in tourism, new marketing money for tourism — we're really looking forward," says chamber president Rick Karp. 

The chamber held a two-day forum and trade show in Whitehorse this week. 

"That's why the conference, because we want to position ourselves to be ready for the spring (and) summer and the increase in sales, increase in tourism. We're very hopeful," says Karp. 

Gerrard Fleming of Fleming Protection and Security says his business has diversified its service offering. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)
​Gerrard Fleming of Fleming Protection & Security Inc., says that given Yukon is a small market, his business has had to diversify in the current economic climate. 

"When I first took off it was drug and alcohol testing specifically for mines and construction sites, then it turned into guarding and protecting and now we work with non-profits on substance abuse. So our approach to the whole idea of security is very holistic," he says. 

Martin Lehner of Orange Technology, an internet technology firm, says his business has noticed the downturn. 

"There's less money flowing around within the economy."

Despite this, Lehner says the mood is fairly good.

"We're all looking towards the positives. Hopefully we'll get some industry that picks up again, mining and exploration, that kind of thing."

'Mayor of the Year' speaks to conference

Naheed Nenshi was the keynote speaker at a breakfast organized by the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce as part of their two-day conference. (Dave Croft/CBC)
​Calgary's mayor, named "World Mayor of the Year" for 2014, spoke at the conference this morning about the untapped potential in every citizen, but he also raised his worries about rising racial tension across the country.

Naheed Nenshi, the first Muslim mayor of a major North American city, says he's concerned some politicians are stoking racial fears and tensions ahead of this fall's federal election.

"It's based on poll testing, what unpopular group we can pick on, in order to make the rest of us feel better about ourselves, and when I see that politics of division and that politics of fear, I remember what it is that builds community, which is everyday people doing everyday things with their everyday hands and their everyday voices making extraordinary change in our communities and our worlds."

One Whitehorse city councillor found Nenshi's speech inspiring.

"Our benefit is we don't have to be partisan," says Jocelyn Curteanu about city politics. "Our biggest goal is to just do what's best for the community, not to appease one section or another section." 


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?