Businesses vie to fill Parks Canada vacuum

Sixteen local businesses have their eyes on running tours at the S.S. Klondike and Dredge No. 4 this summer, according to the Yukon Tourism Industry Association.

Sixteen local businesses have their eyes on running tours at the S.S. Klondike and Dredge No. 4 this summer, according to the Yukon Tourism Industry Association.

Late last year the association asked private companies if they’d be interested in running tours at the two historic Parks Canada sites, after Parks Canada cut the tours from its now-shrunken budget.

“We had heard a lot of people say this was great opportunity for the private sector. But it’s one thing to say, it’s another to actually know,” said TIA executive director Blake Rogers.

Of the 16 responses TIA received, four were interested in running tours at either location, or both, said Rogers.

Now that it’s clear the private sector is interested, Rogers said it’s up to Parks Canada to make decisions around whether contracting private operators is possible.

Time is running out for businesses to begin planning for the coming summer tourist season, he warned.

“At this point the only thing we really can do is continue to underline the importance of this issue,” said Rogers. “We want to be ready for whatever the decision is that comes down.

“We’re past the 11th hour now. If people are going to pick up some of this product, the training and transition should have happened months ago. If it doesn’t happen very, very soon, it’s going to impact the 2013 season.”

But the 16 responses definitely has Parks’ attention.

“We appreciate that TIA has had an interest in helping us enhance visitor experience at the S.S. Klondike at the Dredge,” said Anne Morin, Parks Canada’s Yukon superintendent. “We’ve passed the information along (to Parks Canada’s national offices). We’re really looking forward to possible opportunities in the future,”

Yukon MP Ryan Leef has also been active in seeking an answer to the Parks cuts question. He’s been having ongoing discussions with the TIA and with Parks’ officials in Ottawa.

The next step is to discuss options at a stakeholders meeting set for late this week or early next week, he said

“Obviously, it’s a positive sign that Yukon businesses are interested in and see a viable option for them,” said Leef.

“It’s been kind of a packaged discussion as we’ve moved along … now it’s time to actually sit down and put some meat on the bones of it,” he said. “Depending on what comes out of the senior level branch at Parks Canada in terms of their proposed solutions to begin with, we will either re-engage with the solutions we’ve tabled around for a while (including possibly having Parks reinstate the tours itself) or we might just end up with good news in terms of these sites and services.”

It’s now up to interested businesses to make their cases and show they can make a private contract financially feasible, said Leef.

“It’s really going to boil down to whether a Yukon operator can make it a feasible and viable venture. What services can they provide, how much will it cost and what are they going to get in return for it … From what I’ve seen, I think it’s a viable enterprise. I think someone with some creativity, the right fee structure and the right marketing can do quite well,” he said.

The biggest challenge now will be reaching a deal with Parks Canada to commit that, whatever form the tours might take, they will in fact be open this summer. That commitment will be key in allowing private contractors to start booking summer tour groups, and Leef was hopeful a decision on that will be made in the next two weeks.

“We are down, the clock is ticking. It’s not an ideal situation in terms of the time we have left to make an announcement and engage a partner if that does end up being a viable option. I’m still optimistic that with the right amount of political will and right amount of local and national political support for this, there are some creative things we can probably engage in if we have the right strategy,” said Leef.

Contact Jesse Winter at

Just Posted

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley has announced 30 new COVID-19 cases on June 21 for a total of 100 active cases. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon experiencing community spread among unvaccinated: Hanley

Territory logs 30 new cases on June 21, for a total of 68 new cases this weekend

Lorraine Kuhn is seen with one of the many volleyball teams she coached. (Photo submitted by Sport Yukon)
The Yukon Sports Hall of Fame inducts the late Lorraine Kuhn

Lorraine Kuhn became the newest member of the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame for her work in growing volleyball amongst other sports

File Photo
A Yukon judge approved dangerous offender status for a man guilty of a string of assaults in 2020.
Yukon judge sentences dangerous offender to indefinite prison term

Herman Peter Thorn, 51, was given the sentence for 2020 assaults, history of violence

Crystal Schick/ Yukon News A former residential school in the Kaska Dena community of Lower Post will be demolished on June 21. Crystal Schick/ Yukon News
Lower Post residential school demolition postponed

On June 21, the old residential school in Lower Post will be demolished and new ground on a multi-cultural centre will be broken

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced 29 new COVID-19 cases on June 19 and community transmission among unvaccinated individuals. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs record-high 29 new COVID-19 cases

F.H. Collins prom attendees and some Porter Creek Grade 9 students are instructed to self-isolate as community transmission sweeps through unvaccinated populations

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read