The MacBride Museum was not recommended to receive one of the city’s spring recreation grants during a council meeting on April 29 due to the amount of taxes they owe. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Money woes continue for MacBride Museum

Spring recreation grant not recommended for museum, territory no longer funding trolley

The City of Whitehorse isn’t likely to dole out any funding to MacBride Museum until its taxes are paid.

A recommendation for the city’s spring recreation grants came forward to council April 29 with MacBride being the only applicant not recommended for any grant amount due to taxes it owes the city.

The recreation grant policy states: “Grant applications are not accepted from any group or organization that is overdue on money or obligations owed to the City of Whitehorse.”

The museum had applied for $60,000. It planned to spend the money on a staff programmer position and operation costs.

It’s through the city recreation grants that the Young Explorers preschool program, Way Back Wednesdays which look at a different facet of Yukon history each week and the popular summer day camps many Whitehorse youngsters take part in, are offered along with other initiatives through the year, museum chair Rick Nielsen explained.

The museum is facing property tax bills totalling $154,000 for 2018 and 2019 which the museum society says it can’t pay. The 2019 taxes are not due until July 2, but the 2018 bill – at more than $64,000 including penalties and interest – is past due.

Last year marked the first year the museum was faced with an amount owing on property taxes after the city capped its grant- in-lieu of taxes program, which provides grants to non-profits for a portion or the full amount of property taxes for the year.

Nielsen has said the grant program for taxes resulted in the society having never paid property taxes in its 67-year history.

With core funding from the Yukon government totalling about $182,000 per year, the society says it doesn’t have the funds to pay taxes and operate the museum as it does now. A resolution was passed at its annual general meeting stating it would be willing to sell the museum land and buildings to the territory provided the society retains the ability to operate the museum independently.

Nielsen said the museum sent the city a letter stating it was working to resolve the tax issue, but that would not happen prior to the recreation grants being awarded. It asked the city provide the recreation grant, recognizing work is underway to deal with the taxes.

Asking the museum to pay the taxes is essentially like telling it to pick up a bucket it’s already standing in, Nielsen said.

He acknowledged it’s entirely within the city’s purview not to provide recreation grants to anyone who has taxes owing.

As for what it will mean for the museum’s programs, Nielsen said that’s not yet clear.

“It certainly will have an effect,” he said, adding the museum board is scheduled to meet next week and look at where it goes from here.

The focus of the museum will “shift dramatically” from preserving, showcasing and providing education on Yukon history to “staying solvent”, Nielsen said.

Along with the museum on Front Street, MacBride also operates the waterfront trolley and the Copperbelt Mining Museum on the Alaska Highway throughout the summer months.

It was learned in the legislature April 30 that the territory will no longer be funding the trolley.

“The Waterfront Trolley has in fact been supported financially by Highways and Public Works,” Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie Dendys said. “The Government of Yukon financially supported the Whitehorse Waterfront Trolley for 18 years. Given our current fiscal framework and the numerous fiscal pressures, the Government of Yukon has made the decision to no longer fund the trolley.”

Details on just how much the territory provides for the trolley were not available by press time today.

The intent had been for the trolley to become self-sufficient, Dendys pointed out.

“This has not happened,” she said. “Beyond the core funding, significant infrastructure upgrades are required to keep the trolley running safely. That’s not happening. With the ongoing development of the waterfront area, we do not feel that it is financially responsible to continue investing millions of dollars in infrastructure upgrades required to keep the trolley running safely through an area that has not been fully developed yet.”

She also highlighted the government’s support for the museum “and the role it plays in illustrating and preserving Yukon’s history.”

Back at city hall, other organizations recommended for the city’s spring recreation grants are most likely to get a portion of what they requested with 20 organizations recommended to split $69,465 for recreational programs, another five parks and recreational facilities to receive $31,600 and four arts and cultural facilities (which MacBride would have fallen under) to receive a total of $34,352.

Council will vote on the grants at its May 6 meeting.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

MuseumWhitehorseYukon

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Calvin Delwisch poses for a photo inside his DIY sauna at Marsh Lake on Feb. 18.
Yukoners turning up the heat with unique DIY sauna builds

Do-it-yourselfers say a sauna built with salvaged materials is a great winter project

d
Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

g
Yukonomist: School competition ramps up in the Yukon

It’s common to see an upstart automaker trying to grab share from… Continue reading

The Yukon government responded to a petition calling the SCAN Act “draconian” on Feb. 19. (Yukon News file)
Yukon government accuses SCAN petitioner of mischaracterizing her eviction

A response to the Jan. 7 petition was filed to court on Feb. 19

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Housing construction continues in the Whistle Bend subdivision in Whitehorse on Oct. 29, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Bureau of Statistics reports rising rents for Yukoners, falling revenues for businesses

The bureau has published several reports on the rental market and businesses affected by COVID-19

Council of Yukon First Nations grand chief Peter Johnston at the Yukon Forum in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. Johnston and Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn announced changes to the implementation of the Yukon First Nations Procurement Policy on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Third phase added to procurement policy implementation

Additional time added to prep for two provisions

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

Most Read