The Government of Yukon provides update on Downtown Whitehorse Safety Response Action Plan

Press Release

21/02/2024

Today, Minister of Health and Social Services and Minister of Justice Tracy-Anne McPhee provided an update on progress made with action items identified in the Downtown Whitehorse Safety Response Action Plan.

Actions since the December 20, 2023 update include:

  • Advancements to decentralize food services, including funding provided by the Government of Yukon to support drop-in services at Coast High Country Inn for lunch and dinner, Thursdays to Sundays, from 9 am to 9 pm, run by the Safe at Home Society and a takeaway evening meal program for families on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, run by the Council of Yukon First Nations, available at 205 Black Street. These locations are in addition to other free food service providers in Whitehorse, including CYFN, Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre, BGC Yukon, the Whitehorse Food Bank, Sally & Sisters, Mary House and 405 Alexander.
  • The new Moccasin Mobile outreach service – operated by the Council of Yukon First Nations and staffed by Yukon First Nations outreach workers – launched in early 2024 and helps to remove barriers for street-involved persons in accessing various support services by meeting individuals where and when they need support. The service is operating after-hours and on weekends, addressing a gap in service availability.
  • The old cafeteria in the Jim Smith Building will open as a community space from March 18 to May 1, 2024, providing a safe space with access to computers, hot beverages, snacks and meeting spaces. A social worker will be based out of the community space, with other outreach workers providing complementary support to anyone who needs them.
    • The use of the Jim Smith Building as a community space coincides with the Whitehorse Public Library closure to help ensure that Yukoners who rely on the library will continue to have access to a safe place to meet, work, study and access community services.
    • Consultations with building tenants have been ongoing as work continues to return this space to public use.
  • Following positive feedback from downtown businesses, the Government of Yukon’s contract with Sirius Security will be extended until March 31, 2024. The Government of Yukon is actively working with the City of Whitehorse and the RCMP to explore additional solutions to address safety concerns in the long term.
  • The newly announced Managed Alcohol Program is opening this spring to further assist those struggling with severe alcohol dependency.
  • In Budget 2024–25, the Government of Yukon is providing additional funding to support the territory’s response to the Substance Use Health Emergency and pay for additional RCMP and First Nations policing resources that will continue to address concerns related to public safety in downtown Whitehorse and across the territory.
    • These funds, if approved by the Yukon Legislative Assembly, will enhance the territory’s implementation of the Substance Use Health Emergency Strategy and enhance community safety in downtown Whitehorse and other Yukon communities.
  • Regular check-ins with the downtown businesses and residents in Whitehorse remain a priority. The departments of Health and Social Services and Justice are working with Whitehorse’s downtown business community, downtown residents, Non-governmental organizations and people with lived experience, to engage in community safety conversations relating to downtown Whitehorse. Public meetings are currently being scheduled for spring 2024.
  • Work continues on the remaining medium- and long-term initiatives in the Downtown Whitehorse Safety Response Action Plan and Yukoners can expect regular updates as these efforts progress.

I am extremely proud of the progress made to date to help ensure Yukoners and visitors alike feel safe and supported in our capital city. We remain committed to working with partners to help ensure that our most vulnerable citizens have access to essential support and services. I look forward to continued dialogue and collaborative efforts aimed at supporting the vibrancy and wellbeing of our community.

Minister of Health and Social Services and Minister of Justice Tracy-Anne McPhee

In our ongoing commitment to enhancing community safety in downtown Whitehorse, our government is proud to report progress in our collaborative efforts with partners. From bolstering food services to new outreach initiatives and strengthened law enforcement resources, our multifaceted, partnership-driven approach aims to ensure a safer and more supportive environment for all residents and visitors of our capital city.

Premier and Minister of Economic Development Ranj Pillai

  • The Downtown Whitehorse safety response plan has four priorities:
    • Get more people into safe, secure housing
    • Make it clear to Yukoners what support services are available and where
    • Decentralize services
    • Coordinate approach between accountable partners
  • Long term priorities for substantive, permanent improvements include:
    • reviewing accessibility policies for emergency housing facilities and diversifying the options that exist to meet support needs;
    • building more Yukon Housing Corporation community housing units (Ryder Apartments) to alleviate the current waitlist and By-Name List pressures;
    • working with private sector partners to bring more affordable housing online quickly; and
    • signing a letter of intent with Yukon First Nations and the Government of Canada to build a Yukon First Nations-led healing centre.
  • A number of initiatives have already been completed. These include:
    • security services hired to support local businesses;
    • on-the-land treatment funding provided through the Substance Use Health Emergency Strategy;
    • operationalized a Mobile Outreach initiative to provide after-hours and weekend supports, led by the Council of Yukon First Nations; and
    • extended funding to Safe at Home as part of the Winter Housing Strategy to ensure safe and secure housing options.
  • Yukoners can email publicsafety@yukon.ca with any concerns they have around safety in downtown Whitehorse.

Laura Seeley
Cabinet Communications
867-332-7627
Laura.Seeley@yukon.ca

Zachary Burke
Communications, Health and Social Services
867-334-7986
zachary.burke@yukon.ca

Fiona Azizaj
Communications, Justice
867-332-1978
fiona.azizaj@yukon.ca

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