Cost of relevelling Ross River School pegged at $1.2 million

Engineers estimate it will cost another $1.2 million to repair the Ross River School only two years after the government spent nearly $2 million doing similar work.

Engineers estimate it will cost another $1.2 million to repair the Ross River School only two years after the government spent nearly $2 million doing similar work.

The school is safe to occupy but engineers recommend it be relevelled this summer, according to the latest structural report released by the Yukon government May 26.

Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn said he needs to gather more information before deciding whether to put more money into the school that has been plagued with problems since it was built.

The Ross River School was constructed on permafrost between 1999 and 2000. It was already showing signs of trouble within a few years of going up.

The department estimates it has spent approximately $3 million on various repairs and studies since 2002, Mostyn said.

Reports from earlier this year say permafrost under the school continues to warm, causing the building to move.

The minister said he is “skeptical” of doing the same sort of levelling that has been done in the past. He said he wants to know all the options that are available.

“We need some sort of structure. Then we have to find out if we can pull together the finances to build a new school or if this one can be salvaged in some way,” he said.

“Can it be moved? I don’t have all the answers. There are smart people who do and we have to gather this information so we have all our options going forward.”

Even with Yukon’s short construction season, Mostyn said he’s been assured by his department that there is enough time this summer to do the relevelling if that is the direction the government chooses.

He couldn’t say when a final decision would have to be made in order to get the work done in time.

“We don’t have all the time in the world.”

Cash for relevelling isn’t the only bill the government is going to have to consider.

A thermosyphon system under the school is supposed to pull heat away from the building foundation and surrounding soil. Mostyn has said the system isn’t working.

A report from earlier this year said to get any sort of permanent stability, the permafrost needs to refreeze.

One option is to install refrigeration units that would refreeze the ground. The price tag for that is $500,000.

A geotechnical study looking at the ground under the school hasn’t been completed yet. Mostyn has said the government has to wait for the weather to get warmer.

The latest structural report was completed after two earthquakes shook the territory in early May

The earthquakes did not play a significant role in the damage that was found in the building, Mostyn said.

Stacey Hassard, the MLA for Pelly-Nisutlin, said the government needs to come up with a clear plan with refined numbers.

“We can’t leave the community without a school,” he said. “They have to do something.”

Engineers are recommending another inspection of the school this July.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, pictured at a press conference in October, announced three new cases of COVID-19 on Nov. 20 as well as a new public exposure notice. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New COVID-19 cases, public exposure notice announced

The new cases have all been linked to previous cases

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read