The Klondike Development Organization is working on a feasibility study to build a non-profit apartment building in Dawson City to help ease the town’s housing shortage.
The organization is a partnership formed in 2009 that includes the City of Dawson, Dawson City Chamber of Commerce, Klondike Visitors Association, Dawson City Arts Society and Chief Isaac Incorporated, the development company of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation.
The study will look at whether there’s adequate demand to support a new 20-unit building. It will also aim to create an early design and business plan, said Evelyn Pollock, the organization’s project manager.
The apartment building would house single people or couples, she said.
The organization will conduct a survey to fine-tune some details. They plan to ask potential residents what their income is, how much they are willing to pay for rent and if they are willing to pay more to customize features in a unit. The organization has been researching housing needs since 2011.
A lack of housing is one of Dawson’s most pressing problems, said Pollock.
“Whether we’re talking to employers about labour market needs, the problem is housing. Or asking if Dawson is an appealing place to live and work, the problem is lack of housing,” she said.
“We just feel like it’s time for the rubber to hit the road, to create housing rather than just talk about it.”
It took a while for the organization to take the next step forward because it waited to see if the private sector would step in to fill the need for housing, said Pollock.
Its hunches were worth following, she said. Northern Vision Development, together with the Chief Isaac Inc., bought the Downtown Hotel last month.
One of the hotel’s annex buildings will be used as 10 housing units for families, Pollock said. It will be ready for occupancy by January next year.
The organization plans to build between 12 to 20 units and aims to not rely on government funding. That means up to 30 new units for the city.
Is that sufficient to fill the housing need? “There are no numbers at this time. We do feel like 30 would help, but it may not be enough,” Pollock said.
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