Question re: Dawson City recreation centre - May 4, 2016

Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Before the 2011 election, the Yukon Party candidate for Klondike held a sod-turning ceremony with a former minister of Community Services to announce that a re-elected Yukon Party government would build a brand new rec centre in Dawson City. As the government’s mandate winds down, it’s now clear that this long-standing Yukon Party commitment will not be fulfilled.

Mr. Speaker, why has the government broken the promise that it made with residents of Dawson City?

Hon. Mr. Dixon: We continue to work closely with the City of Dawson to make improvements to their recreation centre through investing an envelope of money that was committed a number of years ago for upgrades to that facility.

This year we have a plan in place — or at least beginning to have negotiations about a plan for the year — to set out an agreed upon course for that particular facility. That committee involves Yukon government representatives as well as representatives of the City of Dawson. They chart out the work plan for the year and then the Yukon government provides the funding to do the upgrades as necessary.

My understanding is that we either have or are close to having that work plan done for this year, and we have money budgeted to undertake upgrades to that facility so that Dawsonites will have access to those recreational facilities for years to come.

Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Party candidate made a promise to build a new recreation centre. He didn’t get elected, and the Yukon Party’s commitment to build a new facility is now off the table. It was a broken promise, plain and simple, and instead of owning up, the Yukon Party simply tries to pretend that the commitment wasn’t made in the first place. The government has instead continued with a band-aid approach year after year, and it is my understanding that an agreement has been signed, or is close to being signed, with the City of Dawson to spend $2.3 million on a facility this year. The budget before us, however, has only allocated $1 million, as far as we can see.

Can the minister confirm that there is a signed negotiation or agreement for $2.37 million to flow this year for what’s referred to as option B-2 ? Further, why is that amount not outlined in the budget before us?

Hon. Mr. Dixon: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The amount that the member is referencing — the $2.3 million — is the remaining amount in the envelope that has been committed to that project. We have budgeted an amount of money that is consistent with typical spending patterns for the year for that project.

The commitment for that original envelope of money — the $2.3 million — remains in place. We are committed to spending that money. The funding that we have budgeted this year is reflective of what we thought we would be able to do this year for work that would be done. If we need to access more money or if we need to look into increases there, then we can do that. But the budget this year reflects what we thought we would be able to accomplish this year in terms of upgrades to that facility.

Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Party candidate for the Klondike during the 2011 election campaign told voters that a newly elected Yukon Party government would build a new recreation centre. People expected the government to live up to that commitment; they did not. The government has had numerous reports done since then to bring the facility up to an acceptable level. It has not acted on them and there is no money in either the budget or in the long-term planning for a permanent solution. $2.3 million doesn’t make the community whole. Millions will still be needed to complete the existing recreation centre. There has been some funding over the last five years to continue to apply band-aids and we see that again this year.

Why did the Yukon Party government spend the entire time in office refusing to come up with a long-term solution for the residents of Dawson to have a fully functional recreation centre?

Hon. Mr. Dixon: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. What we have done is spent this term spending a significant amount of money improving the Dawson recreation centre. We have done that in collaboration with the Dawson City municipality. We have worked together every year to set out a work plan for work to be done to that facility.

The funding that we have identified for the recreation centre in Dawson is unique. It is a long-standing commitment that was made a number of years ago to make improvements to that facility. We continue to make those improvements, and we are committed to the funding that we have committed. When it comes to a longer term plan, we have begun discussions with the municipality, the City of Dawson, around what some options could be, and we look forward to charting out a course forward for that recreation centre that will ensure that Dawsonites have access to adequate and sufficient recreation opportunities at that recreation centre.