Dawson City residents will soon head to the polls.
The long-awaited municipal election must happen sometime before June 15.
But who will run?
Who would want to?
The successful candidate will inherit a municipality that, frankly, remains a mess even after years of stewardship under the Yukon government.
The town is saddled with a debt that exceeds $4 million.
Its $10.7-million recreation centre is a disaster. Some estimate repairs to the building could cost more than $1 million.
The building was used about 50 days this winter. It cost more than $200,000 to keep it open, according to MLA Peter Jenkins.
And then there’s the little matter of a secondary sewage-treatment facility.
Ottawa is insisting the town build one, and some cost estimates range in the tens of millions of dollars.
Toss in the collapsing civic infrastructure — broken sewer pipes caused by melting permafrost — and other woes and you begin to get a sense of the problems faced by an incoming council.
These neophyte politicians will have to make many tough decisions.
Expectations will be high but, given the town’s slate of problems, their ability to meet them will be severely restricted.
Taxes and fees will have to be raised. Expanded municipal services will probably be a long time coming.
That is, fixing the town’s problems will be a thankless task.
The Yukon government could make things easier on the incoming municipal council by writing off Dawson’s debt.
Premier Dennis Fentie has signaled that some sort of financial bailout package is in the works.
We hope it is announced soon.
Prospective candidates deserve to know what they are getting into. (RM)