Question re: Dawson City recreation centre - April 17, 2013

Mr. Silver:    Before the spring sitting began, I attended a Business After Hours meeting in Dawson, where the Premier announced a new capital construction project. He began by saying it was a project that was championed by the former MLA for the Klondike. At that point, people’s ears perked up because the building that the former MLA championed was the new recreation centre. He even held a sod-turning ceremony with the former Yukon Party Minister of Community Services, but alas, the Premier’s announcement was actually about the McDonald Lodge being replaced.

The long-standing Yukon Party commitment to build a new recreation centre in Dawson seems to have fallen off the table since the last election. This year’s budget contains no funding and nothing is mentioned in the long-term plan either.

Will the minister admit that plans for a new recreation centre in Dawson are off the table?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    I’d like to thank the MLA for Klondike for raising this important question. Actually, I had a number of discussions with the City of Dawson — the newly elected mayor and council — on this very issue. In fact, during a recent visit back in the month of January, early in the new year, during my community visits in the territory, I again had the opportunity to discuss this issue and had the opportunity to certainly take a look first-hand and review what work has proceeded at the recreation centre, the issues that carry with the recreation centre, and to talk about options with the mayor and council and the community on a go-forward basis.

So there are dollars included within this year’s budget, as there were the last number of years. In fact, we have extended our agreement with the City of Dawson, which will continue with the $4.5 million, I believe it was, in ongoing work in structural upgrades and repairs to the current facility.

In the meantime, we look forward to hearing from the community of Dawson in terms of their priorities for recreation on a go-forward basis.

Mr. Silver:    I appreciate the minister’s answers. I’m very well aware of the meetings that they’ve had and the funding that is allocated for the existing building; however, the minister didn’t answer my question, which is about a new facility.

The Yukon Party candidate in the Klondike during the 2011 election campaign told voters a newly elected Yukon Party government would build a new rec centre. People expected the government to live up to that commitment, and it looks increasingly like this is not going to happen. There is no money in the budget for it to happen this year and nothing in the long-term plan either.

The Yukon Party has broken its promise for a new facility and instead wants the municipality to try to fix the old one. The City of Dawson recently submitted its phase 2 report to the minister, as the two parties try to determine if the building can, in fact, be saved.

Why has the Yukon Party backed away from its promise to build a new facility in our community?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    Again, just to correct the record for the member opposite, we are carrying on with our commitment of a $4-million contribution agreement with the City of Dawson. In fact, that agreement did expire at the end of this fiscal year, but we have honoured our agreement at the request of the City of Dawson to extend that agreement for a number of years to carry on with structural upgrades and/or repairs of that particular facility. So there are dollars contained within this year’s budget, as there have been in the last number of years.

There is an oversight committee comprised of representatives from the Department of Community Services, as well as representatives from the City of Dawson. In fact, they are putting together their annual plan to determine the expenditures on a go-forward basis with respect to this facility. As I understand it, there is an engineering assessment, and that will help us find and determine ways to make the best use of the facility and to identify ways to improve recreation infrastructure in the community of Dawson.

So again, we are working with the City of Dawson; we are working with the community, and we certainly look forward to doing that in the year to come.

Mr. Silver:    Mr. Speaker, before the last election the Yukon Party held two sod-turning ceremonies for two capital projects. One was the F.H.CollinsSecondary School, which has undergone extensive changes since the announcement but appears to still be on the agenda for this government. There will be a new F.H.CollinsSecondary School.

In Dawson the sod-turning orchestrated by the former MLA and the former Minister of Community Services was as far as the new recreation centre has gone, and it seems like that’s as far as it’s going to go. It’s clear that a new facility has been taken off the table and that the government has broken a major commitment it made to voters during the 2011 election campaign.

Let’s turn the page. What is the cost for that stabilization mentioned in the engineering reports for the current facility in order to make it fully functional and also able to have an ice plant installed?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski:    Indeed, to start off where the member opposite began his question, I would like to acknowledge the former MLA for Klondike, Mr. Steve Nordick, for the work that he did in ensuring that something so important to the community is erected, because what we had — McDonald Lodge — is timing out. We will go forward with a new seniors nursing home for that community, which will also be larger. We will be able to facilitate a broader scope of health services. I would like to acknowledge and thank the former member for the work that he has done.

But talking about investment in DawsonCity recently — if I just do the quick math — this government has invested over $75 million in DawsonCity in the last few years: a new health centre that is almost completed right now; the new waste-water treatment plant; the district heating system; KIAC, the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture. This government looked for and found specialized asphalt to put on Front Street to minimize the erosion from permafrost. To find a solution that works in Yukon, we had to have that asphalt brought in from Europe. This government continues to support the Klondike in spite of what this member has to say.