Dawson sewage lagoon issue gets more stinky

The Yukon doesn’t want Dawson’s new sewage lagoon on Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation land because it doesn’t want to…

The Yukon doesn’t want Dawson’s new sewage lagoon on Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation land because it doesn’t want to enter a lease agreement with the aboriginal government.

“Tr’ondek Hwech’in land is not town land, and having a lease agreement could be a little challenging,” said government engineer Kriss Sarson who has been spearheading the Dawson lagoon project.

“Like any agreement, a lease or a contract, it can be broken.”

A lease is a lease, is a lease, said Otto Cutts, the First Nation’s executive director.

“We stand beside an agreement,” he said. “We have some honour here and to suggest that we would break a lease is really an insult to our integrity.”

The government wants the lagoon built on valuable commercial land next to the town’s ball diamonds, said Cutts.

The government should consider the Tr’ondek Hwech’in proposal of land across the Klondike River south of Dawson, said New Democrat Steve Cardiff in the legislature on Tuesday.

“The site location that we have now is the one that turned out to be most suitable,” because it belongs to Dawson, responded Community Services Minister Glenn Hart.

When the government was scouting, it found four suitable sites. One of them was on Tr’ondek Hwech’in land.

The site the government now favours was not one of the four sites, said Cutts.

The Tr’ondek Hwech’in pulled its land out of consideration after seeing the other three Dawson sites.

That decision has been rescinded because of the controversy surrounding the new site.

The chosen site is above the town’s water supply and there is worry it could be contaminated if there were a leak in the liner or a break in lagoon barriers, said Cardiff, who was recently in Dawson to listen to resident concerns.

“Have the minister or his officials had any discussion with the Tr’ondek Hwech’in about this offer, or is this another situation where the government has its mind made up and it isn’t open to any other ideas?” asked Cardiff in the legislature.

“We don’t have time, the end of June is coming,” said Hart.

“We have to have our application in to the (Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board) in order to look like we’re moving forward on this project when we appear before the judge.”

The territory and Dawson have been scrambling to find a suitable lagoon site since 2003, when the town was fined $5,000 for dumping raw sewage into the Yukon River.

The town was hit with a court order to have secondary sewage treatment in place by 2008.

On June 28, the town must show the court that progress has been made.

“Well, we’ve heard this government’s argument about not building on First Nations land before, and I hope that’s not part of the issue here,” said Cardiff in the legislature.

The current site is close to town and easily serviced by water, power and sewer lines, reducing the capital costs, said Sarson.

The Tr’ondek Hwech’in site is elevated, would require sewage pumping, a river crossing and road construction.

This would increase the capital and operation costs, he said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

d
Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Premier Sandy Silver speaks to media after delivering the budget in the legislature in Whitehorse on March 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Territorial budget predicts deficit of $12.7 million, reduced pandemic spending in 2021-2022

If recovery goes well, the territory could end up with a very small surplus.

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25 after two masked men entered a residence, assaulted a man inside with a weapon and departed. (Black Press file)
Two men arrested after Dawson City home invasion

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25.… Continue reading

Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters at a news conference in Whitehorse on Dec. 21, 2017. New ATIPP laws are coming into effect April 1. (Chris Windeyer/Yukon News file)
New access to information laws will take effect April 1

“Our government remains committed to government openness and accountability.”

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Most Read