Problems a shovel won’t fix

Some problems can't be solved by digging holes in the ground. But try telling that to Ottawa, which is intent to embark on a massive spending splurge on building infrastructure. Meanwhile, funding cuts to art and heritage...

Some problems can’t be solved by digging holes in the ground. But try telling that to Ottawa, which is intent to embark on a massive spending splurge on building infrastructure.

Meanwhile, funding cuts to art and heritage programs remain in place.

As a result, climate-controlled trucks which once rolled up the Alaska Highway to transport prestigious art collections for display at the Yukon Arts Centre will stay parked.

Conversely, it also means Yukon art and museum exhibits won’t be able to tour the rest of Canada.

There’s new money available to build or repair museums. But that’s of little help to the Yukon.

Elaine Taylor, Yukon’s heritage minister, raised the matter with her federal counterpart, James Moore, on Tuesday during a visit to Ottawa.

Talks were positive, she said. But there’s no sign of concrete action on this or other matters she raised during the trip.

Other cuts affect the ability of museums to maintain their collections. The territory has stepped in to replace some of this money, said Taylor. She asked Moore to match Yukon’s money.

Taylor also donned her tourism minister’s hat to try to secure from Diane Ablonczy, the federal tourism minister, to discuss changes that will require Yukoners to produce passports while crossing the Alaska border as of June.

The new rules may hamper tourism, Taylor warned. She also asked for reassurance that aboriginals would be able to cross without passport, as is called for under the Jay treaty.

Indian and Northern Affairs is working on producing a security certificate that could be used by Yukon First Nations residents as an alternative to a passport, said Taylor.

But “there’s no clarity yet,” Taylor said.

Stricter rules at the border wouldn’t be an issue if Yukon had modern drivers licences and identity cards, said Liberal tourism critic Don Inverarity.

The US will accept enhanced drivers’ licenses, used by some provinces, as an alternative to a passport. But “Yukoners will not be able to take advantage of this program because the Yukon has failed to produce such a document,” Inverarity said in a news release.

“We are still stuck with driver’s licences that look like they are made in a high school kid’s basement. They obviously will not meet the new American standards.”

Taylor did receive assurance more federal money will flow towards tourism advertising campaigns, such as the pan-territorial campaign launched in 2007 at a cost of $5 million.

Following the blitz of television and magazine ads, domestic visits to the territory rose 12 per cent, said Taylor. “It was very well received.”

“It would be great to see something like that again,” she said.

Premier Dennis Fentie also hobnobbed with federal ministers in Ottawa this week to push for more money for Yukon First Nations with final agreements and for funds to double the capacity of the Mayo hydro-electric dam.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.