City looks to renovate Pioneer Cemetery

Whitehorse's Pioneer Cemetery could undergo major renovations if the city succeeds in tapping some federal money. The project would also see the cenotaph relocated from in front of city hall to within the cemetery.

Whitehorse’s Pioneer Cemetery could undergo major renovations if the city succeeds in tapping some federal money.

The project would also see the cenotaph relocated from in front of city hall to within the cemetery.

Veterans have in recent years complained about the poor condition of Pioneer Cemetery, taking particular issue with residents who walk their dogs through it.

“There was dog shit everywhere,” said retired Major Red Grossinger, who helped advise the city on these projects. This has been less of a problem since the city recently built a dog park not far from the cemetery, he said.

It’s important that the site receives the respect it deserves, said Grossinger. “All the pioneers that built the Yukon are buried there,” he said.

The renovation would include fencing the cemetery and putting up signs explaining the site’s history. Headstones that have sunk into the ground over the years would also be repaired.

“It’s gonna look awfully nice, I’ve seen the design,” said Grossinger.

The cenotaph would be moved to the cemetery’s northeast corner. Its current location in front of city hall is “not a proper venue,” said Grossinger. “It’s so much noise and traffic, you can’t hear a thing.”

The monument will stand where American veterans used to be buried. The location will be renamed Veteran Plaza.

To mark Canada’s 150th birthday, the federal government made $6.4 million available to all three territories for capital projects.

The Northwest Territories and Nunavut have already applied for a number of projects, city councillors heard at a Monday meeting, and the funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

A report presented to council looked at six options eligible for the federal funding, but all except the cemetery and cenotaph would require additional funding on top of the federal grant and city money.

Each project can be covered up to 75 per cent by the federal funding, for a maximum of $500,000.

The cemetery renovation is estimated at $660,000, with the cenotaph relocation representing a small portion of the costs, Grossinger said.

Applicants, however, have to demonstrate they have already secured the remaining 25 per cent, council was told.

Councillors are set to discuss the project next week.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at

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