UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Yukon's housing industry and community economic development Hedmann, David G.C.


In 1986, during Yukon's worst recession in twenty years, the territorial government began a two-year process to develop an economic development strategy. The result was Yukon 2000, a plan for community economic development (CED). Concurrently, but not as part of Yukon 2000, the 1986 Yukon Housing Needs Study reported the percentage of people in core housing need in Yukon highest in Canada. This thesis identifies new policy initiatives to meet housing needs and help achieve the community economic development goals of Yukon 2000. The Yukon 2000 process overlooked the housing industry for several reasons. These include the industry's low visibility during the recession in the early 1980's. Also, decision makers and planners knew very little about the industry because the data base for the Yukon housing industry is extremely weak. Most CMHC statistical reports either meld data on Yukon with data on another jurisdiction or do not report on Yukon. The goals of Yukon 2000 are to provide options for people to earn a living in Yukon, to control their future, to protect the environment and to create an equitable society. These goals apply to the Yukon community and to each community within the territory. Critical to achieving these goals is diversifying the narrow base of the isolated economy, in part, through import replacement, meeting social needs, devolving decision making and distributing resources more equitably. The Market and Non-Market sectors of the Yukon housing industry are unstable and there is strong evidence the Market Rental sector is not working. Throughout the 1980's, the Yukon and Canada housing corporations have consistently failed to meet planning targets for new social housing. This thesis defines policy options for the Yukon government to stabilize the industry, meet planning targets and increase federal spending in Yukon. Housing is a unique industry because of what housing means to individuals, groups and communities. The right to adequate, affordable and suitable shelter is a fundamental one not available to about one third of people in Yukon. On a per household basis, the housing corporation in the Northwest Territories has ten times more social housing than the housing corporation in Yukon. Yukon Housing Corporation and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation have funding for about 130 new social housing units each year. Increases in the Yukon population will generate demand for an additional 300 new units each year through the 1990's. New construction and housing renovations are an important part of the small Yukon economy. This thesis developed sixteen criteria to measure the impact of fourteen housing programs on CED. These criteria were developed from the goals and objectives of Yukon 2000 and the literature on CED. This thesis compares the relative impact of each program on CED. Based on this analysis, modifications to program delivery are suggested. The Yukon economy is particularly susceptible to boom and bust cycles. These cycles and other characteristics of the economy inhibit investment in the housing industry despite generous government incentives to businesses. This thesis proposes ways to increase this investment. The Yukon government has the resources to meet housing needs and stabilize the housing industry. That Yukon government can use the industry to diversify the economy and help achieve the four Yukon 2000 goals. It can create a win-win environment, meet housing needs, create employment and business opportunities and develop new leadership. This thesis describes the important roles of governments, the private sector, communities and nongovernmental organizations in the housing industry. It describes the possible roles of each in a CED strategy to respond to housing needs and problems with the housing industry.

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