Plans to tear down the former Alexander McDonald Lodge continuing care facility in Dawson City are on pause.
“The community has asked us to have another look at it, we’re going to have another look at it. I’m not going to say one way or the other whether we keep it or it goes,” said Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn August 2.
“We’ll work with the community to come up with the most responsible way to meet the needs of the community.”
The building, which has been empty since a new facility opened last year, has had its interior gutted to the studs and all the hazardous material removed from inside, Mostyn said.
“We’re at the stage now where it’s just sort of a framed-in building with nothing inside.”
Last year officials with Highways and Public Works said saving the building was not financially viable.
Keeping it as a continuing care facility would have cost $8 million, a spokesperson said at the time, $2 million to bring the building into basic code compliance and another $6 million to upgrade it to “modern care standards.”
“Renovating the building to be something other than a continuing care facility was not specifically looked at but would certainly cost more than building a new building on that site,” the spokesperson said.
Mostyn said he wants to take a closer look.
No deadline has been set for a final decision on the building’s future. The minister would not speculate into how the building could be used if it is saved.
While in opposition, Premier Sandy Silver, who is MLA for the Klondike, was critical of the former Yukon Party government’s decision to knock it down, claiming the former government was “hell-bent on tearing it down.”
A $226,000 contract was awarded to a Whitehorse company to demolish the building and deal with the hazardous material. Mostyn couldn’t say what this change would mean for the contract.
Community members have suggested turning the building into residences for students attending the Yukon School of Visual Arts.
SOVA has been struggling to attract enough students for its year-long fine arts program.
Enrolment has dropped so dramatically that this year’s class could be cancelled. The Yukon Department of Education hasn’t announced whether enough students are enrolled for the program to run.
Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee confirmed earlier this week that six students have enrolled in the program. Despite a report by CBC that six is the minimum number required, McPhee said no final decision has been made.
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