Question re: Dawson City recreation centre - November 19, 2014

Mr. Silver:   Mr. Speaker, before the sitting began, the Premier told Yukoners that the government had fulfilled many of its commitments during its last election. It certainly left the impression that the government thinks that its work is done and is trying to decide what it should do next. Well, here’s a suggestion.

Before the 2011 election, the Yukon Party candidate in the Klondike held a sod-turning ceremony with the former Yukon Party Minister of Community Services to begin construction of a new recreation centre in Dawson. Three years into the government’s mandate, the long-standing Yukon Party commitment to build that rec centre has fallen off the table.

This year’s budget contains no funding, and nothing is mentioned in the long-term plan either. Has the government broken this promise to my community?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski:     It would take quite awhile, actually, to talk about the investments this government has made in the member opposite’s riding, specifically within the City of Dawson City — just coming in, in terms of the investment that’s being made at the airport. If we look at the brand-new hospital — which, for the record, we know the Leader of the Liberal Party, the Member for Klondike, opposed that hospital. He also opposed the new McDonald Lodge nursing home that we’re building — the waste treatment plant that we’ve invested in and are continuing to work with the city on — even providing special asphalt that came all the way from France. It was shipped here to be used on Front Street to minimize the impacts and ensure the integrity of the historical value of that community. We continue to invest significantly in that community.

I also want to note that there is ongoing financial support for the rec centre, and we continue to work with the mayor and council on their priorities for their community.

Mr. Silver:   The Premier makes it sound like the communities need an allowance that’s out of his own purse. This is taxpayers’ money, Mr. Speaker. He can avoid the question if he wants, but one of the myths that this government tries to keep alive is that it’s making promises and delivering on them. In the case of the new recreation centre, which he avoids answering, that promise has been broken.

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 rec centre. People expected the government to live up to that commitment, and they did not. Days after our House rose in the spring, Dawson City released a report on the condition of the existing rec centre.

That report recommended extensive repairs with a price tag of approximately $12.5 million. The government’s public response on this report has been silence.

Is the government going to pay for at least part of this upgrade or do we have to beg for that as well?

Hon. Mr. Cathers:      What I would note to the member is that, in fact, we have money that has been identified and committed to Dawson for supporting upgrades to their existing recreational centre. That is based on the results of discussions by me and my predecessor as Minister of Community Services, as well as officials with the City of Dawson, and working with them to discuss options for going forward.

I would point out that what the member is referring to is a commitment made by a previous MLA of something he would work for, but it is also not something that is part of a platform commitment. For the member to suggest that we’re not keeping our commitments, the member is absolutely wrong. What we are doing is continuing to work with the City of Dawson. Fortunately, we have a good relationship with the City of Dawson because what we hear from the Member for Klondike is not very useful or very productive.

Mr. Silver:   What we saw in the newspaper was a sod-turning ceremony with the Minister of Community Services and also the candidate for Klondike. If that’s not a campaign commitment, well I don’t know what is.

Let’s recap. The Yukon Party candidate in Dawson — he ran a platform on building a new recreation centre. He lost and the government now is refusing to honour that commitment. The government has a report that provided a permanent fix for the current facility, and has sat on it for close to a year refusing to say whether or not it would fund the much-needed repairs.

The report recommends demolishing the current rink and replacing it. It recommends a new ice plant and several renovations to the ice rink. It recommends a new ice plant and several renovations to the ice rink. It also pegs the cost at about $12.5 million. Is the government going to proceed with these renovations, or do residents of Dawson have to wait for the next government to get the job done?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski:     The first question that member opposite brought up was recognizing the work of the former MLA and that is exactly what I would like to do. I never in my response acknowledged the hard work of the Yukon Party former MLA for Klondike and the work that he did in delivering the hospital, in delivering the waste-water treatment plant, in delivering the special asphalt for Front Street, and such facilities as SOVA as well. I want to thank the former minister and MLA for Klondike for the hard work and what he delivered for his constituents during his representation of that riding.