Question re: Dome Road and Mary McLeod Road rerouting - May 28, 2015

Mr. Silver: The government is set to begin working on the realignment of the Dome Road in Dawson in order to allow a placer miner to access his claims. One of the outstanding questions from my constituents is what the top of the road will look like when the project is completed, particularly the intersection that occurs with Mary McLeod Road. While the government has stated that safety concerns will also be addressed by this road project, residents I have spoken with have a different point of view. They’re not too happy with the proposed realignment of the intersection, and they want a different solution — in particular, one that was under consideration by this government but was scrapped. There was a public meeting, officials stuck around afterward and a solution was in the works — a solution that would have met neighbourhood values.

Will the government revisit this issue and address these residents’ concerns?

Hon. Mr. Kent: The member opposite is correct. The Dome Road is being realigned. It was scheduled to be completed last year but, unfortunately, was not done at that time. I understand the contractor is going back in there.

As far as the issues the member has raised, I will follow up with department officials. I wasn’t made aware of particular issues. The Minister of Economic Development, the Minister of Environment and I — when we attended the gold show on our way into Dawson City — went up and around that particular section of the road and turned on to the road. I believe the Member for Klondike’s home is located on that road as well in Dawson City.

With respect to the specific concerns raised by his constituents, I will take those under advisement, follow up with officials and see if there’s anything that can be done to address those concerns.

Mr. Silver: I can’t believe the minister didn’t come in for tea.

Another aspect of this project that has left residents scratching their heads is the government’s decision not to repair the worst section of the Dome Road that is mere feet away from where the road construction starts. It is without a doubt the most unsafe piece of the entire road, and it only makes sense to fix it at the same time. However, this is not part of the government plans.

Both residents and contractors are baffled as to why this government is not including this in the overall project. This attention to detail will go a long way to show that this government is actually listening to citizens’ concerns in my community and also to their own officials when they report on what they heard after a consultation.

Can the minister explain this decision? Will he look into fixing this lower section of the road at the same time?

Hon. Mr. Kent: As I think I’ve said on a number of occasions here in the House, this government is responsible for thousands and thousands of kilometres of road, and much of that is spread across obviously a very vast area. We have a sparse population outside of the community of Whitehorse that relies on this type of activity. We’ve made significant investments in the member’s community. In fact, in these 2015-16 mains, there are anticipated investments in the Klondike riding of $16.428 million, which is a tremendous amount of investment — and we’re making investments all over the Yukon when it comes to this budget.

Unfortunately, when we reach 5:00 p.m. today, I would anticipate that the member opposite would be voting against those types of investments that are being made in his community — investments to McDonald Lodge, investments in the Dawson aerodrome and a number of investments in land development and road repairs.

Again, I understand that this is an important issue to him and his community, but I think it is important as well for his community to recognize the significant amount of investment that we’re making, not only in Dawson City and the member’s riding but throughout the entire Yukon with this budget that we will be voting on later on today.

Mr. Silver: It really is too bad that we are getting partisan over this. This is a simple question and it is a simple fix. The gear is going to be there on a road that they are not responsible for, actually. It is a municipal road that they are putting $1 million toward, so surely the minister can at least say he’ll look into actually talking to the community about it as opposed to playing partisan politics here over this.

Another question is: There was an arrangement as well — we know that the price tag is $1.3 million and we have been told, as well, by several residents that they are really concerned about what pocket this money has come from. They often answer their own question and hopefully their fears can be set at ease with the minister’s comment today. They are wondering if the money for this road is coming out from a matched reduction for the maintenance budget from roads around Dawson.

Can the minister at least tell Yukoners if the budget for this project has changed since last year, what the total amount is and where the money is in fact coming from to pay for it?

Hon. Mr. Kent: I don’t believe we were engaged in partisan political debate. I certainly just wanted to highlight many of the investments that we are making in the member’s community of Dawson City.

This year will see the completion of the McDonald Lodge replacement, a $7.858-million investment; there is a $1.75-million investment being made in the Dawson City water system; and there is a $775,000 investment being made in the Klondike paleo facility in the community of Dawson City. On top of that, there is $3.6 million being invested into the Dempster Highway, which is an important highway obviously to members of Klondike and indeed all Yukoners who enjoy travelling up to Inuvik or any of the marvellous spots along the way.

These represent almost $20 million in investment in Dawson City and the Dempster Highway combined. It is something that is very important to us as a government. We continue to make solid investments across the territory in each and every one of our communities. We take the concerns of the residents of these communities very seriously. Of course there is only a finite amount that we can invest, year over year. When I return to Dawson City — the two or three more times I am planning on doing that this summer, I will again speak to community leaders and others in that community about what is important to them.