Dawson City’s current wastewater treatment facility photographed in 2013. Town council approved moving forward with work for a new sewage lagoon after Yukon government officials had approached the town about coming up with an alternative to its current costly treatment plant. (Jesse Winter/Yukon News file)

Dawson begins planning for a sewage lagoon

The new facility would replace the current treatment plant

More than a decade after Dawson City residents voted a “resounding no” — as town mayor Wayne Potoroka described it — against rezoning a site at the bottom of the Dome Road for a sewage lagoon, planning work is moving forward to replace the town’s costly wastewater treatment plant with a lagoon.

Town council approved moving forward with the work in January.

As Potoroka explained in a Feb. 11 interview, the Yukon government approached the town about six months ago looking for a more sustainable, economical option. The treatment plant currently costs $950,000 a year to operate and the Yukon government has stated it wants to shut down the plant down by 2026.

The town and territorial government are working together on the issue, he stressed. While costs aren’t fully known, lagoons are generally less expensive to operate than treatment plants.

The Dawson treatment plant, which opened in 2013 and cost about $30 million to build, has been plagued with cost and operation issues since it opened.

The Yukon government, which paid for the building and most of the operations of the facility (with Dawson kicking in $210,000 annually), is currently in legal proceedings with Corix Utilities, which designed and built the plant, and is not commenting on the situation, Department of Community Services spokesperson Kara Johancsik said in an email.

Potoroka said while the 2008 referendum resulted in a no to the chosen spot at that time, the results didn’t consider any sort of Plan B for a lagoon in another location.

“That’s what’s happening now,” he said.

In 2008, the council of the day immediately went from the possibility of a lagoon to looking at the mechanical solution to deal with the town’s sewage, Potoroka said. The result was the treatment plant.

This time around officials will be looking at more than one site for a lagoon.

Potoroka said reaction around town to developing a sewage lagoon seems to be mixed. He suspects opinions will vary depending on what locations are considered.

The first step for Dawson will be a public engagement process beginning in March. That will look at finding a balance between technical feasibility and community concerns as well as coming up with design criteria with the public to “make sure their concerns are built into selection criteria for the site,” according to a report last month.

By June, it’s anticipated options could begin being looked at through the second phase of public engagement with a report back to town council in July or August.

It’s expected there would be public meetings in both phases.

Officials will be looking at the work done ahead of the 2008 referendum to glean relevant information to the current decision, Potoroka said.

While the Yukon government is aiming to have a new alternative in place and the treatment plan shut by 2026, Potoroka expects the work “could be several years” before a lagoon is in place, though he also said he’d be happy to be proven wrong on that.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Submitted
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes

adsf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 26, 2021

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read