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Metal siding may be installed on Dawson hospital

The new Dawson City hospital could have metal siding. At a special meeting last week, city council unanimously approved a recommendation from the heritage advisory committee.

The new Dawson City hospital could have metal siding.

At a special meeting last week, city council unanimously approved a recommendation from the heritage advisory committee to allow for corrugated tin siding to be installed on the building. But the approval comes with conditions. The committee wants a guarantee that there is no wood-treated siding that can be used. It also wants to work with the Yukon Hospital Corporation to make sure that other parts of the building’s exterior, like window trim, fit in with the city’s heritage requirements. “The tin is not anyone’s first choice,” Mayor Wayne Potoroka said earlier this week.

Cement siding had been installed on the building. But it couldn’t withstand Dawson’s climate and began to fall off. The remaining siding was also removed.

The siding on the hospital has to meet two criteria. The National Building Code of Canada says it has to be non-combustible. It also has to agree with Dawson’s heritage bylaws that ensure the building fits in with the town’s old-time character.

That’s proven to be difficult. There is no non-combustible wood siding that is approved for use in Canada, a letter from John Higgins, senior architect with Stantec Architecture Ltd., the company in charge of designing the hospital, says.

“We’re very attached to our architecture here in town. It means a lot to us,” said Potoroka.

There were some buildings with tin siding during the Klondike Gold Rush, but not quasi-government buildings as important as a hospital, he said. The old hospital, the old post office and the old courthouse all have wood siding.

But that was before national building codes were put in place and those requirements must be followed, he said.

“The ideal situation would be, of course, to have wood siding. But is it possible and is it practical at this point? It seems like a difficult ask,” said Potoroka.

The city wants assurance in writing, preferably from the Yukon government, that there are no wood-treated options available, he said.

The Yukon Hospital Corporation is working with the city’s heritage advisory committee to find a product that will meet the building code and city heritage requirements, spokesperson Val Pike said this week. There’s no set deadline for choosing the new product, but it needs to be installed by the end of the summer, she said.

The hospital is scheduled to open this fall.

Pike could not say who was originally contracted to install the siding, or how much it will cost. TSL Contractors Ltd. has been hired to install the new product.

“In a perfect world, you’re able to deal with development projects at an operational level. I think everyone at the council level appreciates how difficult this has been,” Potoroka said. “This is not the Yukon Hospital Corporation’s first choice either. They’re trying to do the best they can.”

The hospital corporation is set to open a new hospital in Watson Lake this month. Earlier this year, the auditor general slammed the corporation for building the hospitals before doing a proper assessment to see if they were needed. And the cost for the projects has ballooned. Combined, the two hospitals were supposed to cost just under $47 million. Now, that number has climbed to nearly $60 million.

Contact Meagan Gillmore at