Dawson City will receive $4 million over five years to repair its recreation centre.
Archie Lang, minister of Community Services, announced the money on Tuesday as part of the 2009 budget to be released later this month.
The money will mostly go towards seismic upgrades for the recreation centre, said Dawson Mayor John Steins.
But leftover project cash may help bring artificial ice to the community, said Steins.
That could extend the skating season by two months - a big deal for a hockey town as big as Dawson City, he said.
The town is the only Yukon community that relies on natural ice in its rink, he said.
It’s fast to skate on, but it doesn’t firm up until December, said Steins. They’d prefer to have ice in by October.
Artificial ice usually requires sinking pipes in the foundation, which is expensive work. But new technology now offers a less costly solution - a special mat is rolled across the rink bottom, said Steins.
The rink, built around 2001, was supposed to include artificial ice, said Steins.
But the recreation centre’s construction became caught up in a “sordid tale” of fighting between engineers, contractors and city managers, he said.
This occurred around the same time as an audit revealed that millions of dollars had been misspent by the city. The territorial government ended up dissolving the elected council and taking over the bankrupt town’s operation.
“It was a textbook case of what could go wrong,” said Steins.
The recreation centre was also briefly closed in 2004, following concerns that the steel rafters in the roof had twisted and made the building unsafe.
But these fears proved unwarranted, said Steins.
“There’s no structural issue; the superstructure is as sound as a pound,” he said.
The territorial transfer may also pay for finishing the top floor of the rink, which remains unused because it’s only roughed-in. It just needs interior walls and windows, said Steins.
An elevator would have to be installed to meet building code requirements, he said.
But given the shortage of meeting spaces in town, “it’s a shame it all sits there unused,” said Steins.
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