Themes and Principles

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The Whitehorse Sustainability Plan (WSP) is an update of the previous 2008 plan. While the overall direction of the plan has not changed significantly, the following themes that describe how the update differs from the previous plan.

Leadership through partnership 

Like the 2008 plan, the WSP emphasizes the need for the City to show leadership in sustainability. Where the previous plan may have emphasized leadership by example through direct action, education, and communication, this plan makes a shift towards the City leading through partnership and facilitation with other organizations, governments, and citizens.

Citizen stewardship

For the City to move to new levels of sustainability, citizens must be engaged like never before. The WSP reflects a shift in thinking from citizens being informants and advocates to being actively involved in stewardship of Whitehorse’s public infrastructure and natural resources. In this way, citizens are recognized as important partners in achieving long-term sustainability goals.

Integration into City business 

The City has made significant progress in the 5 years since the first SSP was adopted. As part of the update, the City is integrating sustainability considerations into how it makes decisions, how it reports annually, and how it prioritizes projects. These changes will help staff and Council apply the broad concept of sustainability in practical, effective ways on a daily basis.

Focus on our existing assets

The WSP attempts to focus on doing more and better with the resources the City already has. These assets include, for example, a vibrant downtown, our three oldest neighbourhoods, our trail system, and our infrastructure.

Stay the course

Since the 2008 SSP, the City has developed a number of detailed plans and strategies, and others are in progress. Similarly, the Yukon and First Nations governments have also developed influential plans. The updated WSP builds on and synthesises previous work.

Continuous learning, more ambition 

Reflecting a shift across North American municipalities, the WSP is moving towards measuring progress towards clear, ambitious, long-term targets. Setting long-term targets allows the City and its partners to jointly monitor progress, adjust strategy to reflect successful approaches, and drive coordinated action.


Sustainability principles help guide the setting of goals and priorities, and taking action. This plan uses the principles below, as adapted from common sustainability principles.


  • Stewardship: Individuals and communities must take care of limited global, regional, and local resources. 
  • Mutual Dependence: Land, water, air and all living organisms including humans are parts of the ecosystem. Each community is linked with the ecological, social and economic well-being of Yukon, Canada, and the world.
  • Equity: Individuals, communities, regions must be able to meet their social, economic and environmental needs. All people should be able to participate fully in the life of their community. 


  • Integration: Social equity, economic vitality and environmental health are interrelated and mutually dependent. Decisions should seek maximum benefits in each of these areas.
  • Long-Term Thinking: Recognizing that sustainability involves responsibility for future generations and that the future is hard to predict, decision-making should acknowledge and address uncertainty and associated risk.


  • Leadership: Leadership means encouraging and enabling others to adopt leading practice, and, where necessary, to act in spite of resistance.
  • Collaboration & Coordination: Sustainability is a shared responsibility because we all have social, environmental and economic impacts. Coordinated action and strong relationships are needed to address complex, wide-reaching issues.
  • Engagement: Decision-making should engage the diverse community through credible, open methods that encourage fully-informed participation.
  • Learning & Evolution: Sustainability is a long journey. Regular, honest feedback and adjustment leads to more effective action and faster improvement. 
  • Adaptive Approach: Plans and activities must be responsive to external pressures and changing social values. Plans should encourage resilience. Infrastructure and systems should be durable and minimize risk.