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Dawson looking at two potential sites for new recreation facility

Selection could occur by the end of 2020
Dawson City council has two sites to choose from for the construction of a new community recreation facility. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Dawson City council has two sites to choose from for the construction of a new community recreation facility.

Mayor Wayne Potoroka spoke with the News on June 1 about this project. He presented the two viable sites that are under consideration to house the replacement of the Art and Margret Fry Recreation Centre.

The first is the Gold Rush Campground, a municipally-owned block of land in the middle of Dawson. The second is on the bottom of the Dome Road, across from the baseball park.

“We’re looking for a place to put it,” Potoroka said. “You can imagine that a structure of that size is going to need a lot of space.”

The mayor explained that there is not a lot land in Dawson that would be suitable for a large facility like the one proposed, and whatever site is chosen has to be suitable on a geotechnical level.

He said geotechnical suitability will likely be the biggest factor in deciding between the two sites.

“The first [priority] will be making sure that wherever you put this thing, that the ground is in good enough shape to support it,” Potoroka said.

Other factors to consider would be community wishes and accessibility.

He said council considered other sites, but landed on these two options.

Potoroka said he has no preference of either site and that the municipality needs to put in the necessary work to properly evaluate both.

“I have kept a really open mind about this,” Potoroka said.

There have been preliminary engineering reports on both sites. He said these have indicated that such a facility could be built in either location, provided the best foundation was laid in accordance with characteristics of the area.

He wants to see this selection done right, with all the facts available.

Should everything go according to plan construction could begin in the fall of 2021, based on information from the contractor.

The Gold Rush Campground does come with a drawback. Dawson may own the land, but it is subject to a lease. The town would need to give two years notice of a cancellation to the leaseholders if that is the site is chosen.

The municipality has already given this notice to make sure this site remains a viable option, as the mayor explained not taking this step could delay construction to 2024. He does not feel the community would appreciate that significant of a delay.

“They want to know that there are viable options available and (we’ve) got two right now,” Potoroka said, adding that the notice doesn’t guarantee an actual termination of lease or that the building will go on that site.

The same day the notice was given, a planning study for the Gold Rush Campground was announced. He hopes to have this information later this year.

As for choosing between the two areas, Potoroka expects to make that decision sometime at the end of the year.

Looking to what the new facility would look like, Potoroka said there are a number of things to consider. Choosing what will go in will come down what the community can afford to build and operate.

Community expectations will also factor in.

He pointed out that Dawson’s curling sheets and hockey rinks need to be replaced. He has heard that the community wants a space to use for different programs. He explained that there are currently not enough venues in Dawson to support all the user groups looking for space.

“We have outgrown what is here in town,” Potoroka said.

He clarified that not everything can be put into the new facility, but it needs to be able to support a growing community.

“It’s one of those processes where you build as much as you possibly can,” Potoroka said.

Contact Gord Fortin at