Whitehorse Daily Star: Liberals forgot to consult on school, YP says

Liberals forgot to consult on school, YP says

The opposition parties are being critical of the Yukon government’s abrupt revocation of the tender for the planned Whistle Bend school shortly after it was issued, as reported in Friday’s Star.

By Whitehorse Star on August 5, 2019

The opposition parties are being critical of the Yukon government’s abrupt revocation of the tender for the planned Whistle Bend school shortly after it was issued, as reported in Friday’s Star.

The Yukon Party said today the government has created unnecessary delays in the school project after issuing a tender before consulting with key stakeholders.

“Questions and concerns have been raised as to why the tender was permitted to go out at all, as the Liberals appear to have forgotten to consult with key stakeholders such as the City of Whitehorse or local First Nation governments, a commitment that was made by the minister (Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee) earlier this year,” the Yukon Party said.

Other key stakeholders that were left out before the tender was issued include the Whistle Bend Community Association and Whistle Bend School Project
Committee, a group that McPhee created for this specific purpose, the official Opposition said.

“Once again, we see this Liberal government drop the ball on a major infrastructure project, forgetting to consult the very group they specifically created to provide insight into the design of the school,” said Scott Kent, the party’s education critic.

“Unfortunately, this mistake will create delays. It is clear that the Liberals like the photo-ops that come with project announcements, but forget that governing
doesn’t stop with the press release.”

The delay means Whistle Bend students will have to travel to schools in other areas of the city.

The school, set to cost more than $25 million, is planned for completion in 2024, the government said earlier this year.

Neither McPhee nor Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn has been made available to the Star to comment on the situation.

The tender delay was announced last Thursday afternoon by a communications official with Mostyn’s department. That spokesman, who said more consultation is needed, gave no indication about when the 410-page tender will be reissued.

The details that were included in the now-cancelled tender also suggest that the government has already made key decisions about the size and what is included in the school before they even consulted with anyone, the Yukon Party said.

“This calls into question the legitimacy and sincerity of any consultation on this project going forward.”

Earlier this year, the party urged the government to create an elected school council prior to the development of the school to ensure the voice of the community would be heard and included in its planning and design.

“Proactively creating a school council would add significant value in determining the needs of this school and how it will best serve the students and families of Whistle Bend and the surrounding areas,” added Kent.

“Considering the situation the Liberals have created by failing to consult before going ahead with the tender, creating a school council now seems necessary to ensure this delayed project runs smoothly going forward.”

The Yukon NDP is also questioning the sudden delay.

“This government needs to explain how announcements to both build then cancel this important project were made without completing the stakeholders’ consultation it had committed to months ago,” the NDP said today.

“The Yukon NDP caucus supports the construction of a school in Whistle Bend, recognizing the growing numbers of families moving into Whitehorse’s newest

“Every family should have the option of sending their children to a neighbourhood school,” said party leader Kate White. “Community members have been asking for a school to be built in Whistle Bend as it continues to grow.”

White added the party “had hoped that consultation with the project advisory committee and community members would have been completed, before moving
ahead with tender announcements.”

This content was originally published here.



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