Dawson City residents have an opportunity to tweak the official community plan for the first time in six years.
That’s because the town is mandated by the Yukon Municipal Act to have its community plan in place as soon as possible.
The act states the plan must be examined by the town every five years.
Dawson’s last plan was approved by council in 2000.
The plan will act as the framework for a future elected council, said Paul Moore, Dawson’s chief administrative officer.
“We don’t know when an election is going to be. We need a document prepared so that when there is elected officials, they can look at it and say, ‘We want to re-open it and go back to consultation.’”
A consultation document, which is a tool for community residents to tell the government what they believe is important to the community over the next five years, was to be released last week.
The $35,000 process is six months behind schedule, said Moore.
The contract to create the official community plan was awarded to Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in staffer Gary Wilson.
“The contractor did have a number of issues that came up that delayed the process,” said Moore.
Wilson was awarded the contract by the town’s former chief administrative officer, David Skidd, who was appointed by the territorial government.
Wilson accepted the contract the same day as he accepted his position with the First Nation as a business strategist.
Moore expects the community plan to be completed in two months.
“We have been waiting to see what was going to happen with the election. Now that it looks like that it’s going to be longer until we have elected officials, I think we do need to get through it and complete it.”
The work has not gone over budget, added Moore.
The plan will give much-needed direction on issues that are decided by the public, said Moore.
“We need some planning for the future here. We need a stronger sense of what the infrastructure needs are, our needs for development.”
Last summer 16 issues were identified by Wilson and a steering committee as being important to the town.
These include municipal boundary alterations, zoning amendments, Klondike valley land use, settlement of Tr’ondëk Hwëchin land claims and joint planning discussions, north-end expansion, waterfront development, seasonal housing for transient workers, waste management, watershed protection, secondary sewage treatment, recreation, transportation and parking, economic development, cultural economy, tourism and marketing, and the cable system.
With spring approaching, the issue of housing for summer workers is a looming issue, said Moore.
The former tent city campground in West Dawson, which provided affordable camping spots and freedom for young workers, remains closed.
Moore has no idea where the workers will live — if they show up at all.
“It’s going to be a tough one. I assume Guggieville will be doing what they did last year, trying to market that to people coming in to stay out there.”
The privately run campground in the Klondike Valley shut down in mid-summer after failing to attract tenters because of fees and rules.
Moore recognizes that summer transients want freedom when they are not working.
“I think we need to have a better plan. It’s not going to happen by this summer. That’s why we’ve included it in the OCP.”
Moore expects campers to squat in the hills around town, like last summer, especially now that a Firesmart clearing has opened up the land.
“It’s not a solution but it’s something that’s going to happen. We’ll have to make our bylaw officer aware,” he said.
“It’s going to happen until we find a better solution.”
The OCP will look at all land issues, including zoning, said Moore, citing an occasional demand for lots that can be developed in town.
“There are not a lot of developable lots in town. We have people looking for lots and we don’t have much available. Certainly that is an issue,” he said.
“Klondike Valley, in terms of expansion. that is a big issue. If the community wants that, I need to hear from them.”
The consultation document provides residents with questions and opportunities to rate what issues they deem important.
It provides space for feedback and potential solutions.
The consultation document can be picked up at Dawson’s town hall.