There has been an ongoing situation on the Dome in Dawson City for a number of years.
We have a placer mine in a residential neighbourhood and on lands set aside for further housing. Despite repeated requests and appeals from residents, neither government has shown any real desire to deal with the issues.
So you can imagine residents’ surprise when Yukon government’s Department of Highways and Public Works suddenly submitted a proposal to relocate sections of the Dome Road and Mary McLeod Road covered by the placer claim blocks.
The territory intends to carry out this work at taxpayers’ expense. Costs have not been made known at this time but are likely to be between $1-2 million.
This decision was made with undue haste and without consultation with residents. The Yukon government noted land may become available for housing development in the future, but didn’t specify which areas this entails or when the land will available.
The Yukon government did not discount the possibility of mining continuing in the area, even after subdivision development.
As a public safety matter, the territory’s proposal leave a lot to be desired. Even if you accept that Dome Road urgently needs to be relocated in this manner, the proposals make little sense.
An adjoining section of highway, one actually in need of repair, isn’t even included in the proposals. The plans for the intersection of the Dome Road and Mary McLeod endanger public safety equally, if not more, than the current junction does. The “safety” aspects are no more than an afterthought to a proposal that focuses on allowing maximum access for mining. It is disappointing that these plans were considered to be adequate.
If this is an attempt at expediency, then it is expensive, time consuming and unnecessary. The Slinky mining approvals expire on May 17, 2015.
The Yukon government could simply let the permits lapse, and acknowledge a residential subdivision is a better use for the land than an inappropriate placer mine. This would require no expenditure, saving potential millions and the community could move forward after years of being held at ransom.
The territory must reconsider and withdraw its proposal. This plan does not resolve the issues of mining in communities nor clarify the rights and powers of a municipality to govern its affairs. The current circumstances on the Dome Road present an ideal opportunity to finally resolve the issues.
It seems the Yukon government has chosen a highly expensive and totally inadequate quick fix rather than pursue the matter for the long-term benefit of residents.
Glenda Bolt and Jim Taggart