The Wolverine Mine will soon be going into production and Selwyn Resources has obtained new investment capital to further explore and develop its large Howard’s Pass zinc ore body.
This should be welcome news to Watson Lake.
However, as a regional supply centre for southeast Yukon and northern BC, just how equipped is the area to meet the demands of these and other future resource developments?
In spite of the current recession, I would suggest that, resulting from past neglect to local needs by the Yukon government, Watson Lake is now at least six to seven years behind where it would normally be in respect to commercial planning and development.
If Watson Lake is ever to realize its full potential, it must be encouraged and permitted to develop its commercial and industrial facilities now, enabling it to provide a broad range of future supplies and services. It should not have to wait yet another two years until the hopeful election of a more accommodating government to do so.
Until Watson Lake establishes a Main-Street-styled business-commercial district similar to most towns and cities, it will have difficulty to achieve its economic potential, and to cope with rapidly growing demands for services.
The site must be well situated for easy access, infrastructure placement and long-term security for investors.
Most importantly, it should be located and designed to provide room for at least 50 years of future expansion, or more.
It is worth noting that if an early start can be made to set aside a suitable area for early engineering and survey work this year, it will likely still take another two years before lots could be sold. This timing could coincide with progressing regional resource-based developments.
Past proposals for this purpose have been vigorously resisted by government, and by an apparent majority of the former town council. This was clear when they created an advisory committee on town planning, which made possible the appointment of businessman Pat Irvin, the chair of the Yukon Development Corporation, who is widely known to oppose all such proposals.
If progress is expected, this negative approach to competitive free enterprise must certainly be taken into account.
I have now placed this proposal before the new town council for consideration. Specific location and other background information may be viewed at yukonadvocate.blogspot.com.
It is recognized the new council will be facing a long backlog of mostly urgent infrastructure upgrading and development needs, which must be given priority.
Last year, Premier Dennis Fentie proclaimed he was providing Yukon with $100 million for infrastructure funding, but as usual nothing was allocated for Watson Lake at the time.
If, as expected, government fails to allocate sufficient and much needed capital infrastructure funding in the forthcoming spring budget, all hopes for economic renewal will be deferred once again, at least until the election of a more accommodating senior government.
In future years, Watson Lake will become a major contributor to the Yukon economy.
What occurs here will have a large effect on everyone in the territory. Therefore, by way of this letter, I would once again ask the citizens of Whitehorse to consider this matter, and for their support.
This can be shown by questioning government about the issue and demanding it provide full support to all infrastructure funding requests made to it by the new Watson Lake town council.
By showing public interest we just might be able to make government listen, and this proposal might then become a reality.
Donald E. Taylor
See more letters page 16 to 21.