A tender has been issued to demolish the former McDonald Lodge in Dawson City, putting an end to the hopes of some local residents that the build might be repurposed.
The continuing care home was opened in 1970. It shut down after a new facility opened in Dawson earlier this year.
Both the town’s mayor and MLA say some people were hoping the old building could be reused as either affordable rentals or a residence for students attending Dawson’s Yukon School of Visual Arts (SOVA).
“I’m sure that some people will be disappointed that we couldn’t either save that building or come up with a better repurposed use for it,” said Mayor Wayne Potoroka. “But I also think a number of people get that it might have just been too difficult to renovate.”
The Department of Highways and Public Works says renovating the building was not financially viable.
Keeping it as a continuing care facility would have cost $8 million, said spokesperson Erin Loxam. That’s $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,” she said.
There’s no word how the site might be used once the old building comes down.
Some people thought the old building could have been used for students attending SOVA since the building’s layout, with rooms and a central kitchen, is similar to a student residence, Potoroka said.
The lack of housing for SOVA students is a major issue in town, he said.
“We put on a world class institute, the School of Visual Arts, where we invite students from all over Canada to come and take the first year of a fine arts degree in our town,” he said.
“It’s a real difficult time for those students to find housing. So we’re not really maximizing the possibility that that opportunity presents.”
Klondike MLA Sandy Silver said a local contractor walked though the building a few years ago and thought it was salvageable under the right circumstances.
Conversations about how much work would cost or what could be done never got off the ground because the government wasn’t interested, he said.
“We’ve always wanted to use it for something else, (but) this government seems hell-bent on tearing it down.”
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