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

Chloe Tatsumi dismounts the balance beam to cap her routine during the Yukon Championships at the Polarettes Gymnastics Club on May 1. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Gymnasts vie in 2021 Yukon Championships

In a year without competition because of COVID-19, the Polarettes Gymnastics Club hosted its Yukon Championships.

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Yukon Budget 2.0

If the banks that finance the Yukon’s growing debt were the only… Continue reading

Yukon Supreme Court Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan dismissed an application on May 3 seeking more transparity on the territory’s state of emergency declaration. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Supreme Court rules confidential memo can’t be used in challenge of state of emergency

Court upholds cabinet confidentiality after request to use internal government memo as evidence.

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 7, 2021.… Continue reading

The deceased man, found in Lake LaBerge in 2016, had on three layers of clothing, Dakato work boots, and had a sheathed knife on his belt. Photo courtesy Yukon RCMP
RCMP, Coroner’s Office seek public assistance in identifying a deceased man

The Yukon RCMP Historical Case Unit and the Yukon Coroner’s Office are looking for public help to identify a man who was found dead in Lake LaBerge in May 2016.

Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine minesite has created a mess left to taxpayers to clean up, Lewis Rifkind argues. This file shot shows the mine in 2009. (John Thompson/Yukon News file)
Editorial: The cost of the Wolverine minesite

Lewis Rifkind Special to the News The price of a decent wolverine… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: border opening and Yukon Party texts

Dear Premier Sandy Silver and Dr Hanley, Once again I’m disheartened and… Continue reading

Fire chief Jason Everett (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City launches emergency alert system

The city is calling on residents and visitors to register for Whitehorse Alert

Two young orienteers reach their first checkpoint near Shipyards Park during a Yukon Orienteering Association sprint race May 5. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Orienteers were back in action for the season’s first race

The Yukon Orienteering Association began its 2021 season with a sprint race beginning at Shipyards.

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its May 3 meeting and the upcoming 20-minute makeover.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister talks tourism in “virtual visit” to the Yukon

Tourism operators discussed the budget with Freeland

Polarity Brewing is giving people extra incentive to get their COVID vaccine by offering a ‘free beer’ within 24 hours of their first shot. John Tonin/Yukon News
Polarity Brewing giving out ‘free’ beer with first COVID vaccination

Within 24 hours of receiving your first COVID-19 vaccine, Polarity Brewing will give you a beer.

Most Read