Yukon government deaf to Dawson

DAWSON CITY The territory has a stranglehold on Dawson when it comes to community planning, say current and former town officials.

DAWSON CITY

The territory has a stranglehold on Dawson when it comes to community planning, say current and former town officials.

Dawson’s hospital facility, the placer mine along Dome Road and the paving of Front Street are all examples of projects where citizens’ concerns and the municipal government have been ignored, they say.

“The government loves to come to town and write cheques,” said former mayor John Steins, explaining that, in the last year alone, the territory has given Dawson almost $100 million in project funding.

“However, when it comes to listening to people and specific quality-of-life issues, there’s silence.”

When the government decided last year to place its new hospital facility in downtown Minto Park, there was an outcry from residents.

People were worried the design of the building wouldn’t mesh with the historic Dawson Museum next door. They also didn’t want to see a popular recreation spot disappear and festival space for the Dawson City Music Festival encroached upon.

“People are OK with the idea of an improved health facility,” said Steins. “Who doesn’t like millions of dollars of infrastructure pumped into their community?

“The question is, shouldn’t we have a say in the appearance of our town and where things should go?”

People aren’t happy about how the hospital site was selected, but at least the government made some concessions with that project, said Councillor Wayne Potoroka.

The government is offering to build another park elsewhere and has taken small steps to incorporate some people’s concerns, such as not putting any windows on the north side of the building to reduce noise, he said.

But mention the Slinky mine on Dome Road and Potoroka bristles.

“The government hasn’t been there at all to help interpret this information,” said Potoroka, referring to the complex mining licensing and legislation that led the government and the Yukon Territorial Water Board to allow Darrell Carey to placer mine in the middle of Dawson.

“It would have been nice to have their assistance on this one.”

Only the town’s community administrative officer Jeff Renaud has had contact with the departments of Community Services and Energy, Mines and Resources, but even that communication has been seriously limited, said Potoroka.

“It’s not like the minister of EMR is phoning me at home, it’s definitely not happened,” he said.

It’s bad enough the government has ignored residents’ e-mails and phone calls, but as a council member he expected at least there would have been more joint communication on the issue.

Even Mayor Peter Jenkins, who spent 10 years as a territorial MLA, served in cabinet and was once Premier Dennis Fentie’s deputy, is quick to criticize the government these days.

At a council meeting Monday, he lamented the town’s authority over the Slinky mine has been “neutered” by the water board and territorial government.

The government is ignoring the town’s concerns over its roads being ripped up by the miner and his decision to ignore proper development permits, said Jenkins.

“Our hands, at this point, are tied.”

It’s not uncommon for the territory to overstep its authority, said Steins. It happened several times while he was in office.

“One time, the town had a meeting about the new Yukon Housing apartments and (MLA Steve Nordick) just invited himself to it,” he said.

“Then he kept telling us the government’s plans were etched in stone and that their plans were the ones going to happen.”

It was the same thing with the paving of Front Street.

When the territory did a consultation about the project, they never asked where to place the apron on Front Street and whether it fit the historical context of the town, said Steins.

“At that meeting, Nordick just told everyone that it wasn’t the place to talk about it,” he said.

“An MLA should have open ears for everybody – it’s his job to hear what constituents have to say, to not dictate what the appropriate venue is.”

As for the Slinky mine, Steins isn’t surprised how the government has dealt with the issue so far.

“YTG is obviously asleep on the issue, as is the (Klondike) MLA,” said Steins.

“With anything controversial they take the ostrich head-in-the-sand technique and hope it will go away.”

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The new Yukon Liberal caucus poses for a photo during the swearing-in ceremony held on May 3. (Yukon Government/Submitted)
Liberal cabinet sworn in at legislature before house resumes on May 11

Newly elected MLA Jeremy Harper has been nominated as speaker.

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 5, 2021.… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speak at a COVID-19 update press conference in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. They formally announced that as of Nov. 20, anyone entering the territory (including Yukoners returning home) would be required to self-isolate with the exception of critical service workers, those exercising treaty rights and those living in B.C. border towns
Vaccinated people won’t have to self-isolate in the Yukon after May 25

Restaurants and bars will also be able to return to full capacity at the end of the month.

An RV pulls into Wolf Creek Campground to enjoy the first weekend of camping season on April 30, 2021. John Tonin/Yukon News
Opening weekend of Yukon campgrounds a ‘definite success’

The territorial campgrounds opened on April 30. Wolf Creek was the busiest park seeing 95 per cent of sites filled.

The site of the Old Crow solar project photographed on Feb. 20. The Vuntut Gwitchin solar project was planned for completion last summer, but delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it back. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Old Crow is switching to solar

The first phase of the community’s solar array is already generating power.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
One new case of COVID-19 in the Yukon

Case number 82 is the territory’s only active case

Flood and fire risk and potential were discussed April 29. Yukoners were told to be prepared in the event of either a flood or a fire. Submitted Photo/B.C. Wildfire Service
Yukoners told to be prepared for floods and wildland fire season

Floods and fire personelle spoke to the current risks of both weather events in the coming months.

From left to right, Pascale Marceau and Eva Capozzola departed for Kluane National Park on April 12. The duo is the first all-woman expedition to summit Mt. Lucania. (Michael Schmidt/Icefield Discovery)
First all-woman team summits Mt. Lucania

“You have gifted us with a magical journey that we will forever treasure.”

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

Whitehorse goings-on for the week of April 26

The Yukon Department of Education in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. The department has announced new dates for the 2021/2022 school year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Yukon school dates set for 2021/22

The schedule shows classes starting on Aug. 23, 2021 for all Whitehorse schools and in some communities.

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: rent caps and vaccines

To Sandy Silver and Kate White Once again Kate White and her… Continue reading

Most Read