Government prepares to return democracy to Dawson

Dawson City residents will go to the polls no later than June 15, 2006. The Yukon government tabled an elections act for Dawson on Monday, almost…

Dawson City residents will go to the polls no later than June 15, 2006.

The Yukon government tabled an elections act for Dawson on Monday, almost two years after the town’s democratic collapse.

It supercedes the Yukon Municipal Act, which requires all Yukon communities to hold elections in October.

But the Dawson election still comes too little, too late, said Klondike MLA Peter Jenkins.

“We’ve heard this story before, but it is probably going to happen this time around, given that the government is in the last months of its mandate,” Jenkins said Monday.

“It’s a logical choice, but this could have been avoided if an election and the financial position had been addressed in Dawson City last year.

“The government seems to be more interested in the interest they’re earning, at six per cent, versus putting the financial viability of the town ahead.”

On April 14, 2004 , the government, with Jenkins as deputy premier, fired Dawson’s town council for gross mismanagement of public funds.

Former trustee Ray Hayes identified a series of financial options for the government, taking into account the town’s dilapidated sewage system and shoddy recreation complex.

“Various options have been proposed, and I don’t think any have been accepted,” said Jenkins.

“At least, I hope not. Given what I understand has been proposed, none of them are workable for the town of Dawson.”

Dawson’s financial statements show reliable revenue and expenditure numbers only for the 2005-06 fiscal year.

“It’s a qualified audit,” said Jenkins.

“All of the opening balances, the auditors cannot confirm that they are accurate.”

Dawson’s debt currently stands at $4 million, said Premier Dennis Fentie.

There was no bail-out money for Dawson included in Fentie’s recent budget, released last week.

“Past governments made decisions that contributed to the financial demise of Dawson and we will take responsibility for those,” said Fentie.

“In due course, the financial plan will be tabled and it will then trigger an election for Dawson.”

Dawson citizens have scheduled their own mock election for April 20.