Talking treatment: Consultation is needed for Dawson’s new medical centre

Dawson will be getting a new health centre and care facility, the Yukon Party government announced on Friday.

Dawson will be getting a new health centre and care facility, the Yukon Party government announced on Friday.

While this is good news for Dawsonites, some are concerned about the amount of say the town will have in the process.

“It’s great that government has the intent to do this, but probably the most important factor here is the consultation process with the stakeholders,” said Dawson Mayor John Steins.

“That means engaging the medical community here — the nurses and doctors — the public and the local government.”

Steins learned of the two-phase project to replace the existing nursing station and care facility from a government press release on Friday.

There hasn’t even been a phone call from the government, said Steins on Monday morning.

“It’s all well and good but I can assure you that as far as I’m concerned I’m going to insist on consultation,” he said.

 “Look, it’s our health centre; we should have some input on how it’s designed and built and where it’s built.”

The territorial government had originally committed to replacing the aging MacDonald Lodge care facility, according to the press release.

Now they will also replace the existing nursing station with a new health centre.

The government plans to begin preliminary work over the next few months, with construction of the new health-care centre planned for the 2009/2010 building season.

The new facilities would likely be built in the same area as the current ones, said Steins.

“They’d have to move some things around. I know the last time around they were thinking of moving the kids’ playground there by Minto Park.”

 The possibility of a new health centre for Dawson is something that’s “been on the radar screen for some time now,” said Steins.

“I think it’s something that’s needed for town and it’s something that we’ve been pushing for and they’re responding to it.”

A larger facility would allow people from communities such as Mayo to use Dawson for their medical needs, rather than making the long drive to Whitehorse, he added.

“It would really enhance our stature as a service centre.”