Carcross development hits a snag

A construction snafu has kept some tourists away from the new Carcross Commons retail complex in recent months. The development promised to revitalize downtown Carcross.

A construction snafu has kept some tourists away from the new Carcross Commons retail complex in recent months.

The development promised to revitalize downtown Carcross and give spending opportunities to the thousands of tourists that come through on buses during the summer months.

But the boardwalk and deck surrounding the new visitor centre and shops was poorly installed, and had to be rebuilt right in the middle of the season.

“The deck got crazy, actually,” said Sean Brownell, owner of Frisky Fresh Fish. The company has a retail store and new fish and chip truck at the commons.

“It was super woop-dee-doos, nails sticking out, boards popping up. It got to the point where some of the bus drivers were telling their passengers not to go over there, because they thought it was a hazard.”

The Carcross Tagish Development Corporation was in charge of the project.

Managing director Justin Ferbey said the original contractor neglected to build the deck properly the first time.

“The contractor told us he was building up to code and engineered, and I would say that wasn’t accurate.”

The builder refused to fix it, said Ferbey.

“His message to me was basically, ‘Tough luck.’ That would sum up his attitude.”

The development corporation hired a second contractor to come in and do the work, at a cost of just over $20,000, he said.

Going through the courts would be expensive and time consuming, said Ferbey.

“By the time that’s reconciled, our summer’s gone. So best case for us is just to go fix it.”

Repair work should be completed today or early next week.

The deck wasn’t a major hazard, he said.

“It’s just that spans were too wide, so it was a bit bouncy. But it’s sitting on the ground, so it’s not going to fall or anything like that. It was annoying if anything, but not unsafe.”

But Daphne Mennell, who works at the visitor information centre, said it was a real problem, especially for older visitors.

“People were tripping over it. It was really quite fun to walk down because it really bouncy. But it was really deterring the buses from sending people in there because people were falling.”

And the original contractor should not take the blame for the shoddy work, she said.

Both Brownell and Mennell said that the builder was under pressure to make the deck look good for the May 17 grand opening. That meant building on top of frozen, unstable ground.

“The guy did it, working day and night, lots of long hours,” said Mennell. “And then when the ground proceeded to thaw out, it turned into a roller coaster.”

Brownell said missing out on the full potential of a summer tourist season was a “major bummer.”

“I wouldn’t say that I’m complaining about it,” he said. “I’m just accepting what happened and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be in there and I think the rent is fair. I just wish I could have taken more advantage of the summer so that I could have made enough money to pay my rent for the year. I don’t know if I’m going to get there. I think the end result might be lose money instead of get ahead.”

His business was disrupted most during the reconstruction of the deck, he said.

All agree that the rebuilt deck is looking really good.

“The deck looks beautiful now,” said Brownell. “It’s perfectly level and stable. No bouncing around.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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