Parties pitch Dawson promises: runway, housing, tourism, fossils

Candidates from the three main parties all offered similar proposals at an election forum in Dawson City last week.

Candidates from the three main parties all offered similar proposals at an election forum in Dawson City last week.

The Yukon Party, Liberals and NDP all said they would pave the runway at Dawson’s airport.

But Liberal Leader Sandy Silver, the MLA for Klondike seeking re-election, called the Yukon Party proposed measures “empty promises.”

“We don’t believe these grandiose commitments from the Yukon Party when it comes to Dawson,” he told the News Thursday.

As it stands, because the airport runway is not paved, larger planes can’t land in Dawson City.

In February, the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce released a study that said paving the runway would have positive economic impacts on the community.

The Boeing 737-200 Air North uses for summer flights, specially equipped to land in Dawson, is also coming to the end of its lifecycle, making paving more pressing.

“They’ve known about it for a decade,” said Silver of the need to pave the runway. “Pasloski has had five budgets to deal with it.”

The Liberals haven’t released their entire platform for Dawson.

Silver said it will include measures to deal with Dawson’s chronic housing shortage.

The Yukon Party also said it would start planning for a Klondike paleontology facility, a museum for fossils that placer miners have unearthed.

Brad Whitelaw, the Yukon Party candidate for Klondike, also proposed the Korbo land parcel be used for housing.

Dawson has had a longstanding housing shortage. But that piece of land has been sitting there empty for many years, Silver said, questioning why it couldn’t have been done sooner.

“It’s very rich to see all these promises after five years of not doing anything,” Silver said. “It’s election time and now they’re getting those big gold scissors out, trying their best to make these announcements.”

Silver also said his government would find a permanent home for the Little Blue Day Care.

Whitelaw was unavailable for an interview on Thursday.

A spokesperson for the Yukon Party told the News Whitelaw was working on the Klondike Spirit, a steamboat he owns that offers tours on the Yukon River.

The NDP candidate for Klondike, Jay Farr, made similar commitments on the housing and airport fronts.

“We must find a way to find housing for people who want to stay here short or long term,” he told the News.

What that will look like exactly isn’t clear.

Farr pointed out a paved runway would also benefit mining companies, such as Goldcorp which is working to develop its Coffee gold project. Construction of the mine is scheduled to start in 2018.

In a news release Friday, Farr said the NDP would look to increase tourism opportunities in the Klondike.

-with files from Maura Forrest

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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