Dawson to make room for miners

Dawson is tweaking its rules so miners who want to cash in on the boom have a place to stay. "It's put in place as a kind of band-aid solution to Dawson's housing shortage," said community development officer Micah Olesh of possible amendments to municipal bylaws.

Dawson is tweaking its rules so miners who want to cash in on the boom have a place to stay.

“It’s put in place as a kind of band-aid solution to Dawson’s housing shortage,” said community development officer Micah Olesh of possible amendments to municipal bylaws.

“Right now, we have this huge economic opportunity and we won’t be able to take advantage of it if there’s nowhere for industry to house their workers.”

The actual bylaw change is a small one, allowing temporary work camps.

Meaning, “a camp that is not the primary residence of any of the people living there,” said Olesh.

The proposed change comes after industry approached the municipality for permits to build residences for their workers.

While the bylaw would not place rules on the temporary structures, they have to adhere to territorial and municipal legislation, environment regulations and building codes, said Olesh.

The town will not build anything itself.

“I don’t really think we have the expertise,” said Olesh. “We’re not a construction company, we don’t have an economic arm. I think, typically – in North America anyway – governments try to shy away from getting involved in that sort of level of economic activity because then we’d be excused of elbowing out the private sector.”

But the private sector isn’t involved in these developments either.

The amended bylaw would only allow for the mining companies to build the residences.

And they must be temporary, said Olesh.

“Mining is, by its nature, a boom-and-bust activity,” he said. “If we go and build a whole, huge number of houses to create a subdivision for all these workers that are going to be coming in, then they’re just going to be leaving when the price of gold goes back down again and there’s no other industry to sustain them.

“We’d be left in the same position as Faro with a whole bunch of essentially valueless properties.”

The Klondike is always a tighter squeeze in the summer even though the number of hotel rooms doubles in the summer, and the campsites and RV lots open as well.

This summer is already proving tighter than usual with one of the town’s hotels completely booked for the entire summer by an American reality TV show crew.

“We’re just trying to open the way so they can conduct their business,” said Olesh of the miners. “We don’t want to be standing in the way of them doing their business, we recognize that they need that extra space.

“It’s really a small amendment, essentially, but, hopefully, it will have a big effect.”

The municipality is holding a public hearing on the proposed amendment at noon next Tuesday. It will accept submissions until noon next Monday. Anyone interested can visit town hall for more information between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

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