Siding crumbles off Dawson’s new hospital

The problems continue for the construction of the new hospital in Dawson City. Much of the cement siding installed on the building has fallen off, Val Pike spokesperson for the Yukon Hospital Corporation said Tuesday morning.

The problems continue for the construction of the new hospital in Dawson City.

Much of the cement siding installed on the building has fallen off, Val Pike spokesperson for the Yukon Hospital Corporation said Tuesday morning. What hasn’t fallen off is being removed, she said.

“A lot of it’s in the dump right now,” said Sandy Silver, MLA for the Klondike.

The material couldn’t withstand the hot days and cold nights in Dawson, said Pike. And the Yukon Hospital Corporation didn’t realize this until it was already put on the building. The corporation had to make sure the siding was not combustible, and that it conformed to Dawson’s heritage standards. Architects designed the product, and manufacturers supplied and warranted it, she said.

Pike could not say what companies were involved in making the product, how much it cost or what the details of the warranty are. Nor would she say which company was involved with the siding’s installation.

The hospital corporation is working with Dawson’s heritage advisory committee to find a new product that meets the town’s requirements, said Pike. But it’s not an easy process. A special council meeting was held last night to discuss the topic.

Representatives from the hospital committee have suggested the hospital be sided with corrugated metal. But the heritage committee, which is charged with ensuring that Dawson City retains its old-time character, unanimously disagreed with this proposal. The committee would like to see wood-treated siding, or siding that looks like wood, installed, council’s report to council says.

The committee is asking council to approve the metal siding only if the Yukon government can confirm that there’s no wood-treated or wood-imitation siding that can be used on the building. Under building codes, the sidings for hospitals have to be non-combustible.

Meanwhile, TSL Contractors Ltd. has been hired to put up the new siding. President Don Smith was unavailable for comment before deadline.

This latest problem just shows how poorly managed the hospital project has been from the beginning, said Silver. A lot of good work was done to build the hospital, much of it by local workers, and when it’s finished, it will be an excellent building, he said. But the politics that spurred the construction worry him, he said.

“We are seeing that there was also rushed and poorly-planned work. So as the shoddy work gets exposed in light of the auditor general’s work, so too will the shoddy political wrangling. And it just takes time for this to get out,” said Silver.

The auditor general’s report, released earlier this year, slammed the Yukon Hospital Corporation for building the projects without doing a proper needs assessment. Craig Tuton, chair of the hospital corporation’s board of trustees, said during a public accounts committee hearing last month, that direction to build the hospitals was done verbally.

Silver plans to keep holding the government accountable on its capital projects to see how it’s spending the public’s money, he said.

“We’re mortgaging the future of the Yukon on the backs of our children and our children’s children,” said Silver.

The new hospitals in Watson Lake and Dawson City were supposed to cost just under $47 million combined. Now, that number has climbed to nearly $60 million.

The hospital in Dawson is still scheduled to open this fall, said Pike. And the hospital in Watson Lake will still open this month, she said. The Watson Lake hospital is using siding similar to the siding installed on the Crocus Ridge nurses’ residence in Whitehorse. It has not been affected by the problems in Dawson, she said.

Contact Meagan Gillmore at

mgillmore@yukon-news.com

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