Yukon Hall will be history by September

The asbestos and lead paint in Yukon Hall have been stripped, permitting the total demolition of the former residential school to begin. "We're expecting the mobilization of equipment this week" said Dave Beaudoin.

The asbestos and lead paint in Yukon Hall have been stripped, permitting the total demolition of the former residential school to begin.

“We’re expecting the mobilization of equipment this week” said Dave Beaudoin, project manager at the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs on Monday.

The beige building that served as a church-run school for First Nation youth from 1970 to 1985 will be torn down and have its foundations uprooted along with two houses and a maintenance building this August.

The 2.7-hectare plot of land will then be slanted toward the Yukon River to ease runoff.

And, in a final effort to lay the building’s turbulent past to rest, the soil will be tilled to encourage wildflowers and other natural species to grow.

Demolition will begin on August 4 and will wrap up in time for children returning to class in September.

No fewer than three schools are situated in the vicinity of the hall, raising concerns that airborne dust from wood fibers and concrete could present a respiratory hazard.

“There’s going to be dust control,” said Beaudoin, adding that water will be sprayed over dusty parts of the property.

All hazardous materials have been removed from the 2,100-square-metre building, including toxic insulation and wiring, so those won’t be ground up into dust during demolition, said Beaudoin.

After the building’s frame is torn down, jackhammers will be used to break down the foundation so that the building’s structures are completely removed.

The $500,000 demolition has been contracted to High Grade Holdings in a joint venture with Quantum Murray, said Beaudoin.

The Kwanlin Dun held a ceremony at the site on April 16 for former students bidding farewell to painful memories.

The Council of Yukon First Nations moved out of the site just days before, after having used it as headquarters since 1990.

The council had officially passed the keys to the Kwanlin Dun in 2005 when the Whitehorse-based First Nation signed its final agreement with Canada and Yukon.

The agreement commits Canada to demolishing the building within three to five years of its signing.

Indian and Northern Affairs is confident the demolition will be done by the time kids come back to school.

“So far it’s been like clockwork,” said Beaudoin. “We haven’t had any hiccups, and we don’t expect any.”

Contact James Munson at

jamesm@yukon-news.com.

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