More work planned for Dawson’s historic CIBC building

Dawson City is hoping to do more work on the old CIBC building to help preserve the historic site.

Dawson City is hoping to do more work on the old CIBC building to help preserve the historic site.

The town is applying to a Parks Canada cost sharing program looking for help to cover the $105,000 it’s expected to cost to fix the roof and structural issues in the basement.

Dawson’s town council approved $35,500 from the town’s capital fund Feb. 20 to cover its share of the cost

The town has also applied to the Yukon’s Historic Properties Assistance Program for another $19,500. The remaining $50,000 would come from Parks Canada if the application is approved.

Chief Administrative Officer John Skilnyk said the hope is to have the money by this summer’s construction season.

The vast majority of it will go towards fixing the roof, according to documents presented to council. A temporary roof patch was added last year but a more permanent solution is needed.

“There is leakage in the seams of the membrane on the roof and the roof slope has to be permanently repaired to ensure run-off is directed to the west side of the building,” the documents say.

“There may be more rot in the structural members under the roof; however, this cannot be confirmed until the roof membrane is removed.”

Provided these applications get approved in time, the job would go to tender, Skilnyk said.

“There are locals here that have done that type of work before, ideally we’d get one of those (people) to continue it.”

The town bought the historic bank in 2012 for $170,000 and has been working on it ever since.

The bank dates back to the Gold Rush, and Robert Service famously worked as a teller there.

It was designated a heritage site in 1988.

Mayor Wayne Potoroka said the work being proposed for this summer is meant to keep the structure safe.

“We always wrestle with the long-term goal and vision for the building but making sure it’s safe and protected is never very far from mind.”

On Feb. 27, a committee of the whole meeting is scheduled for more informal discussions about the future of the building.

Last year the town hosted a brainstorming session about what that future might looking like.

Ideas ranged from turning it into a restaurant to asking CIBC to move back in, the mayor said.

Last month another idea was added to the list. Dawson’s regional economic development advisory board has broken down the costs of turning the bank into a public gathering space with apartments on the top floor.

The board estimates that would bring in enough revenue to cover the operating costs of the building.

The discussion paper suggests the total cost to restore and preserve the bank would come to $1.2 million and could be covered by federal and territorial programs, donations and a small mortgage.

Potoroka said no decision has been made yet on the future of the building.

“I don’t anticipate we are going to have a solid way forward after the meeting but we’re certainly going to have a great exchange of ideas,” he said. “Because we need to give the staff some direction about where to go with this.”

The town has been spending money on the building every year since it was purchased.

Some of that has come from the Yukon’s Historic Properties Assistance Program which hands out $100,000 a year for work on historic homes and businesses around the territory.

The deadline to apply for the this year’s money is March 1. A representative for the program said the town should hear back about its application in time for the construction season.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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