Steve Nordick has a plan.
The Yukon Party incumbent Klondike MLA wants to solve two of Dawson City’s biggest problems in one fell swoop: the housing shortage and the contentious land-use fight sparked by the Slinky mine.
“What I did, with the government’s help, was facilitate a win-win,” said Nordick on Thursday. “A win for the mining community and a win for the community itself, at large.”
Residents, however, are not impressed.
Glenda Bolt, who lives next to the mine, was never formally told about the plan.
“Mr. Nordick never bothered to come and speak to anyone in the neighbourhood about this grand plan and it was really disappointing,” she said. “For two years, residents and neighbours here in the community of the Dome Road had been contacting our MLA with very little response.”
The scheme seeks to resolve the contentious Slinky Mine problem.
The claims existed before Dawson expanded its boundaries, so the right to mine them was grandfathered.
However, the claims sat idle for many years and the country/residential neighbourhood where Bolt lives was built around it along the Dome Road, which circles the Midnight Dome.
The issue came to a head when, having exhausted the deposit beside the road, the miner decided to mine beneath the road.
Nordick’s fix would see the territory realign the dangerous, curved road, giving access to the potential minerals underneath, and, in good faith, the miner would relinquish his claim to what has already been mined. The government would then build up to 50 proposed, single-family lots there.
The costs to re-align the road and build the fully serviced lots would be recouped by selling the homes, said Nordick.
“This isn’t something I am just throwing in the air during an election,” he said.
The Department of Energy, Mines and Resources and Community Services have worked on the plan, it has been discussed with the miner and was presented to the town’s council and chamber of commerce back in August, he said.
No one at the city of Dawson would comment on the plan on the record.
Minutes from the August 10 council meeting confirm Nordick’s presentation, and town staff confirmed that, before that meeting, there had been no consultation with the city about the plan to work out details, like zoning and infrastructure.
The only person who can speak to the plan is Mayor Peter Jenkins.
But he could not be reached, “for something like this,” said the town’s executive assistant Chelsea Parent.
The town’s reception of the idea was “overwhelmingly supportive,” said Nordick. “Because it is a win-win for the community.”
But there are problems.
The area is zoned country/residential (which requires two acres per lot in the town’s regulations), and that does not seem conducive to the 50-lot plan, said Bolt.
Plus the plan says the lots would be fully serviced – including sewer and water.
Bolt and her neighbours don’t have either because it is extremely expensive to pump water up the road, where no pipes or infrastructure exist, she said.
And Bolt’s skeptical it would be financially feasible to turn a mine pit, on the edge of a mountain, into safe, affordable housing.
“I just don’t think Mr. Nordick has thought it through,” she said. “And I am not an expert, but I’d like to be treated as a resident, by the person who’s supposed to be representing us.”
Seriously plotting out a timeline, NDP candidate Jorn Meier can’t see anyone moving into such a development for five years, at the very least. Nor can he understand how the water and sewer services could be put in and how their upkeep could be paid for.
And there is no way those homes would meet the demand for affordable housing.
Instead, the Klondike Valley should be developed, said Meier.
At least 30 or 40 lots could be put there, immediately, and it would be affordable and “beautiful,” he said.
“(Nordick) is subsidizing mining and not addressing the real problems.”
Above all, the incumbent is continuing to dictate to the residents of Dawson City, said Liberal candidate Sandy Silver, who looks at the Slinky Mine from his front door.
“We’re so used to being told what we want, instead of being asked,” he said.
Silver proposes following the “thorough” recommendations from a community-driven report on housing that was conducted this summer – most notably, working with the private sector to fill in the downtown core and fix up many of the derelict buildings that pepper the Klondike town.
When asked if he had consulted with the town’s residents on his plan, Nordick said that was the job of the municipality, which is now responsible to lead the project.
“I’m insulted,” said Bolt after hearing that response. “As a taxpaying citizen, I’m insulted.
“This is a Band-Aid. It’s a Band-Aid that just opens up a Pandora’s box of questions he is not willing to answer. This is about having the same rights as miners. (The Slinky mine) has divided the community and this just feeds that. I want solutions, but the Yukon government, allowing this to happen, sets a precedent.”
There has been no formal response to Nordick’s plan from the municipality at this time, said Nordick.
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at