A Whitehorse man is facing criminal charges after a fake bomb threat against the Yukon Arts Centre.
Yukon RCMP were called to the centre at 7:11 p.m. on Aug. 27 after receiving the threat, police spokesperson Kalah Klassen said in an email Aug. 28.
The building was evacuated but no explosives were located.
An audience of about 46 people were watching a performance by comedian Jenny Hamilton when the threat was called in.
“We certainly were given very clear instructions that the evacuation needed to happen immediately and so our director of programming immediately went to the stage and announced this to the audience and we followed our evacuation procedures,” Yukon Arts Centre CEO Casey Prescott said in an interview Aug. 28, adding that Hamilton was on the last joke of her set “which I don’t think the audience heard the punchline for.”
Musician Paris Pick had been scheduled to perform after Hamilton’s set.
Prescott said the centre will be rescheduling the show and honouring all existing tickets.
Whitehorse resident Owen Williams has been arrested and charged with one count each of public mischief and making a false alarm of a fire.
He made his first court appearance the afternoon of Aug. 28 and was released on bail on four conditions — that he would report to a bail supervisor, not come within 200 metres of the arts centre, not possess or consume alcohol or illegal drugs and see a mental health counsellor at least once every two weeks.
Court documents show that he is also facing two additional charges for allegedly making fake reports about a fire and arson at the centre in May.
Williams has been locked in a long-standing dispute with the Yukon Arts Centre over its unauthorized display of his art in 2009, during which the centre used his work as podiums for another artist’s pieces. The centre issued a public apology in 2019 after Williams pursued legal action, but Williams told media at the time that he didn’t think the apology was thorough enough.
Prescott declined to comment on the centre’s history with Williams.
However, he said that the “silver lining” to the situation was that it showed that the centre had “very good” evacuation procedures in place, and that the centre would continue to hold public events.
“We’re working with all of our community partners and we are prioritizing a safe environment and you know, we’re trying to pursue normal and this is but a hiccup,” Prescott said.
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