The Yukon government has decided to knock down the old Alexander McDonald Lodge home for seniors after delaying the decision for a year. (Maura Forrest/Yukon News file)

Yukon government to knock down old McDonald Lodge after all

‘It was decided by both parties that demolition would be the best way forward’

After delaying the decision for a year, the Yukon government has decided again to knock down the old McDonald Lodge continuing-care facility.

The territorial government applied for a demolition permit from Dawson City last month. The municipality sent the request back saying YG couldn’t apply to tear the building down until it provided a plan for what it was going to do with the lot afterwards.

“The site’s prime location in a high-traffic area of town could be better utilized as a public/institutional space of some kind,” said a report submitted to council.

“The building is not currently in use, but with no redevelopment plans included with the application, the demolition of this structure has little to no benefit to the City of Dawson.”

Oshea Jephson, a spokesperson for the Yukon Department of Highways and Public Works, says it’s prepared to submit the required redevelopment plan to the town in time for the next council meeting Aug. 14. Instead of proposing a new building to go on the spot, said the department will be proposing “low maintenance landscaping on that lot with some benches.”

“What happens beyond that, those discussions will follow I imagine,” Jephson said.

Dawson Mayor Wayne Potoroka said he is OK with the landscaping and benches. He said the town didn’t want the lot to remain a gravel pad.

“Would we love to have a new building here? Whether it be a palaeontology centre, or student housing for Yukon School of visual arts students or maybe an apartment… we’d love any of that stuff,” he said. “But I also know that is likely not something that will ever appear on a development permit.”

The mayor said the Yukon government needs to have a budget prepared before making those promises.

The territorial government’s original application said plans were to to tear down the old McDonald Lodge this summer. Jephson was unable to say whether the delay in getting a permit means the plans have changed.

“I imagine we’ll move as quick as we can,” he said.

The building was supposed to come down last year but Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn delayed the plans after residents questioned whether the old building could be repurposed for something else.

Jephson didn’t provide any specifics about what other options were considered over the last year.

“I know that we looked at repurposing it possibly, but as far as the cost and lifecycle of the build were concerned it just wasn’t feasible,” he said. “And working with Dawson City it was decided by both parties that demolition would be the best way forward.”

The new McDonald Lodge, attached to the Dawson hospital, opened in 2016.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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