Cross-country skiers in Dawson are breathing a sigh of relief after city council voted unanimously Dec. 15 against granting a development permit to controversial placer miner Darrell Carey for his claims east of Dome Road.
The vote came after a report prepared by City of Dawson community development officer Clarissa Huffman that recommended city council decline Carey’s application for a development permit “because the proposed development is to take place during the winter months and that such activity would create significant adverse effects on public health and safety and community trails in the development area.”
Skiers voiced concerns earlier this year when, in newspaper ads and notices posted on-site, Carey announced he intended to do exploration work on some of his claims starting Oct. 30 and up until April 30, 2018. That timeframe also happens to overlap with peak skiing season in Dawson and several of what were originally exploration trails have become popular with local cross-country skiers.
“Skiers are ecstatic, of course, after the initial concern that there might be some damage done to the trails, such as removing snow from some of the trails in the area … it really is a little bit of a brighter future for Dawsonites who rely on having healthy outdoor activity in the wintertime,” Klondike Active Transport and Trails Society president Cathie Findlay-Brook said in a phone interview Dec. 20.
“I think it’s a sign of the times.… People’s priorities are shifting and changing and what city council demonstrated was a reflection of that, that communities are about a lot more than industry,” Findlay-Brook said.
“They’re about living a healthy lifestyle and having a safe and healthy environment and about having opportunities that not only bring economic benefits but that bring environmental and health benefits to the community, and it really demonstrates to me that the city is trying to balance those things so that we have a well-rounded community in the 21st century.”
Neither Carey nor his longtime agent Randy Clarkson responded to multiple requests for comment before press time.
Carey has long had a strained relationship with some Dawson residents. Over the years he’s worked on, or applied to work on, his multiple claims within or near city limits. In the case of Carey’s Slinky mine, the territorial government and city agreed to pay to have Dome Road rerouted in 2014 after Carey asserted his right to mine his claims under a portion of it.
In a phone interview Dec. 20, Dawson mayor Wayne Potoroka described the situation as “a really complicated and complex issue with a lot of moving parts.”
“(City council is) trying to stay within our authority that’s vested in us by the Municipal Act and sometimes that’s best place for us to be because a lot of these issues are generated by legislation and policy that aren’t ours,” he said. “This is really the first that we saw any sort of movement regarding the east side (of Carey’s Dome Road claims) and again, I think the resolution really speaks to how council felt it would potentially impact the public use of that land.”
Potoroka said council’s vote doesn’t mean it’s against mining activity in Dawson.
“The placer mining industry is something that’s really important to our community. It’s part of who we are, it’s part of our culture, it feeds our economy. So in a very, very practical sense, I don’t think we want to see the end of placer mining in our area,” he said. “This particular issue, however, is certainly complicated and it’s certainly complex.”
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org