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Community leaders in Dawson and Pelly meet with premier

Impacts of resource development on traditional territory and housing shortage among topics discussed
Premier Ranj Pillai (front left) and Mayo-Tatchun MLA Jeremy Harper (front right) with Selkirk First Nation Chief Sharon Nelson (front centre) and council members. (Courtesy/Yukon Liberal Caucus)

Premier Ranj Pillai visited Dawson City earlier this month to meet with members of the Dawson City council and Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in government and to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Yukon becoming a territory.

Dawson City Mayor Bill Kendrick and two councillors met with the premier on June 13 to highlight their community’s challenges, ranging from housing security to the impacts of flooding in the Klondike Valley.

Housing projects in Dawson City were among the top-priority topics discussed during the meeting. According to Kendrick, like much of Canada, the municipality is experiencing a housing shortage, particularly for seasonal workers.

To that end, Dawson is involved in several residential developments with the territorial government, although the advancement of these projects has been “somewhat frustrating.”

“For many years, many of our housing projects have been ‘one more year away.’ We want to see the Yukon government step up and deliver these housing projects as advertised […] we really want and need to see some substantive movement on these projects,” Kendrick said.

“I know there is this rising cost pressure for all governments, including ours, and we need to do what we can to keep Dawson in control, but at the same time, we need to see these developments happen.”

Recruiting and retaining nurses and emergency medical professionals was also discussed during the meeting, as was the municipality’s proposal for a new recreation centre.

“[The meeting] was an opportunity for us on the council to share with the Yukon government some of the challenges we are having with various projects. It was necessary to share with the premier some of the challenges we see coming down the pipe for this recreation centre and stress the need to really sharpen some pencils,” Kendrick told the News.

The expected cost of the rec centre’s construction will likely necessitate a significant tax increase for the community’s small tax base, which Kendrick told the premier could be a red light for the project.

And while no specific measures, deliverables or timelines were outlined in the Yukon government’s press release about the meeting, Kendrick said assurances were given on some topics, namely flood relief.

“We got some assurances that some flood relief is coming and that these projects will be rolled out on schedule now. And in the coming weeks and months, we’re going to see if these collaborations and commitments from the Yukon government are holding up,” Kendrick said.

The premier also expressed his support for Yukon government officials’ continued collaboration with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and Dawson City governments to solicit feedback from people impacted by flooding earlier this year to improve future emergency responses.

On June 14, Pillai met with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in government before heading south to Pelly Crossing to meet with the Selkirk First Nation government later the same day.

Chief Darren Taylor and Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in councillors spoke with the premier about opportunities for the two governments to work together on land use planning and successor mining legislation.

The two sides also explored strengthening working relationships between the Yukon’s Tourism and Culture department and the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in government’s culture branch and knowledge keepers.

According to a government press release, the premier congratulated Taylor on the upcoming 25th anniversary of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in self-governance, which falls on July 16.

In Pelly Crossing, Selkirk First Nation Chief Sharon Nelson and council members shared with the premier how resource development projects impact their traditional territory. Pillai also heard about the substance use health emergency in the community and opportunities to assist in tackling the crisis.

Pillai additionally noted the upcoming 25th anniversary of Selkirk First Nation inking their self-government and final agreements.

Contact Matthew Bossons at