Heritage board gets the boot from landmark building

The Yukon Heritage Resources Board is being evicted from its office at the Taylor House, a place it has called home for the past 14 years. The board has until Aug.

The Yukon Heritage Resources Board is being evicted from its office at the Taylor House, a place it has called home for the past 14 years.

The board has until Aug. 31 to vacate the landmark building, which will then undergo significant renovations before the next tenant, the Commissioner of Yukon, moves in.

Board chair Anne Lecke said they received an eviction notice on July 28 following some back and forth with the Yukon government, which owns the building.

“When we initially got wind this might happen we told them to give us enough notice,” Lecke said.

“Now we’re discovering that 31 days is short. We’ve been looking around for a space but as a land-claims-mandated board, we like to spend our money on board activities.”

As caretakers of the building, the board worked out of the Taylor House rent free and paid approximately $1,400 a month in maintenance and operational fees.

The government has offered them another space in the T.C. Richards Building but Lecke said it’s too small and has accessibility issues.

“Becoming tenants of theirs in another building makes you think,” she said.

Built in 1937, the Taylor House became a government asset in 1997 after it purchased the building from the Chamber of Mines.

The decision to evict the board at the end of the month coincides with upgrades that need to be carried out to the building, according to a government official.

Alicia Debreceni, spokesperson for Highways and Public Works, said the board knew about the eviction beforehand.

“The intention to use the Taylor House for other offices has been communicated to the YHRB since 2012,” she said.

“They were aware that a change would be coming. There are significant repairs and upgrades that are required on the Taylor House, such as excavation work on the outside of the building, and that work needs to be done before the ground freezes.”

The building also has to be vacated during the renovations, she added.

The board had been occupying the building on a month-to-month agreement since April, after its lease expired.

Doug Phillips, commissioner of the Yukon, had also been working out of his office on a month-to-month basis.

He initiated the idea of moving into the Taylor House about two years ago after deciding it was time to move out of his current location, the Closeleigh Manor, he said.

“The commissioner’s office has to be central in Whitehorse,” said Phillips.

“We get a lot of guests who come to us first because technically the commissioner is the head of state. When we started looking around we found the Taylor House and realize it would be a really good fit so we started working towards that.”

An assessment was carried out on the building this spring and a report was finished in June.

It was determined that 75 per cent of the work that needs to be done “will have to be done regardless of who is there,” Phillips said.

Moving into the Taylor House will raise the profile of the office of the commissioner and also the heritage of the building, he said.

“When I have events there the history of the building will be told.

“Many people don’t know where the office of the commissioner is now because it’s moved every five or 10 years. The board has done some great things and made some great decisions in the past few years, they’re not going to go without a home.”

No timeline has been given for the move and renovation costs remain unknown.

Lecke said she’s proud the Taylor House has served as a hub for the heritage community for so long.

She believes the board has been a good tenant of the building and has kept up its end of the agreement with the government.

Now, they’re looking forward.

“I think we’ve approached this as professionally as we can,” she said.

“They have a better use for the building than we can offer and that’s their prerogative. Our feeling is that the work of the board is more important than where we do it. We are fulfilling the mandate that has been given to us and we’ve been happy to do it here but if we have to do it elsewhere, we’ll do that.”

Contact Myles Dolphin at myles@yukon-news.com