Dawson City, Yukon Friday, May 2, 1997

PROUD QUILTERS...The Sparks proudly display the quilt they have donated to the Women's Shelter. Photo by Janet Collie

Feature Stories

Flood Watch Restored for this Year
Everitt Worried about Future of Devolution
Klondike MLA Deplores Floodwatch Devolution
Uffish Thoughts: Till the Rivers All Run Dry
Editorial: Happy Birthday to Us
Food Bank is Only for Emergencies
Transient Campground Rules are Approved
IODE Annual General Meeting
Much Ado about Shakespeare
Playwriting Competition
Taylor Leads CYFN
Census '96

Flood Watch Restored for this Year

by Dan Davidson

Dawson officials were elated Friday to learn that the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs had restored the river ice monitoring program during this year's flood season. The announcement came to Dawson's Mayor Glen Everitt on Friday morning.

The catch is that it's only for this year. City manager Jim Kincaid says that it relieves the anxiety for this year, but now everyone has a year to figure out how to keep this program alive in the long term. Mike Ivanski, regional director for DIAND, explained that the funding for this program had, for the last five years, been part of the Arctic Environmental Strategy.

With the expiry of the AES we lost our capacity to do the snow survey and flood forecasting. That expired March 31 and so did our funding. The communities basically said to us, "look, spring's coming up and the risk for flood. Is there anything that can be done to see us through the season and provide that advance warning to communities on flood potential?'

"So we looked at it and said okay. We'll finish off this season - the cycle - for the 97 food season, do the aerial look overs and continue with the snow survey and stuff like that.

"We'll have to re-jiggle some priorities in the region to free up the funds, but we'll finish this cycle. That'll give all the agencies a yea to to get ready for how they want to tackle next year."

There's no chance that DIAND will continue this program another year, according to Ivanski. He cites budget cuts and freezes as the reasons why his agency has this diminished capacity. In fact, the snow survey and flood watch used to be a line item in the DIAND budget, and it got removed some years ago. The only reason we haven't really noticed until now was that the department was able to cover this operation under once of the programs funded by the AES.

DIAND carries on a number of programs which it rates at a higher long term priority, such as hydrometric studies and the studies of waste and contaminants. The cost of maintaining all other programs has continued to rise, but budgets have remained flat or have shrunk. The AES funding made up for shortfalls, but it's gone.

We'll be prepared to work with other agencies and see what can be done as an alternative, but we can't spend the hundreds of thousands (of dollars) that are necessary to do the whole program."

It is that expensive, he says, to carry out the entire procedure. Staff have to measure the snowfall regularly to determine the feed of the melt when it happens. Water flow gauges have to be set up and monitored to determine the amount of water already in the system. There are overflights of the ice, measurements of the thickness on the various weather systems. This has to be correlated with the various weather forecasts, both long and short range, to determine temperature changes and attempt to predict how fast the snow is going to melt.

The program has run in such key areas as Dawson, Mayo and Old Crow from late winter until about a week after the actual breakup of the rivers in those areas.

It's a couple of hundred thousand dollars, and that's not including staff time," he continues. The data collection costs are high, but then a couple of staff people have to be assigned to the task full time during the peak period.

This is the second time in the last few months that a cancelled program has been reinstated - just for this year - after having been pronounced dead by federal officials. The first was the SEVEC student exchange program between students in Dawson and Beauceville, Quebec. This has prompted more than one official on this end of the story to comment that we're lucky there's an election coming right up. But it has also spurred worries about what will happen next year, how further devolution will affect us all and what we can do about it.


Everitt Worried about Future of Devolution

by Dan Davidson

The week of April 14 was a very hectic one for Glen Everitt. The mayor of Dawson suddenly discovered that the annual flood season emergency preparations could take more than one form.

It was the beginning of that week when the territory at large learned that the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs was cutting the flood monitoring program, but YTG and Dawson's city offices learned it the previous Friday.

The Yukon government," Everitt said on the weekend, "found out on April 11 - no discussion, nothing. It was just 'We're not doing it any more as of April 11.' The departments had been dealing back and forth trying to get the money back.

Fortuitously, the various levels of the Emergency Measures Organization already had planned a meeting for the following Thursday, and the program's collapse was an agenda item.

When I dealt with it at the EMO I said to Eric Magnusson that I was going to call Ron Irwin and deal with it that way. I did and they (the federal government) said the funding would come."

The announcement of the temporary extension followed the next morning, one week after the original letter had set everyone's hair on end.

Everitt sees this as just the start of a long process. He thinks there will be more of this in the future.

It's the beginning. Now they can start a negotiating process. I think that's what we're going to be looking at with devolution. Now what's going to happen is it (the flood survey) will be downloaded onto Dawson next year. Do we either do without the service or...?" While Everitt was glad when the money came through for this year, he's not sanguine about the future.

"It's scary. I'm just wondering how many programs there are during the rest of the year where they're just suddenly going to send out a letter a week or two before saying 'We're not doing it any more.'"

Everitt said that one territorial politician had phoned him after the reversal to say 'Thank God there's an election', and he's quite sure that this is part of the reason why the decision was taken as it was.

This part of the devolution issue is something he wants to see all the players in the territorial government address in a serious fashion. I just wish all the parties in the territorial legislature would spend more time looking at the big picture rather than worrying about what colour tie the other ones are wearing."

Everitt also learned on April 18 that he's been nominated to sit on a devolution steering committee. He says he's going to be very interested in that one. He reflects that the Yukon has been seeking devolution for years, but now that it's coming it may just be frightening.

Sometimes you've got to be careful, because what you ask for - you get."

Dawsonites have a unique perspective on that sort of a situation, having been granted much more than they asked for when council moved for boundary expansion a few years back. Council wanted to expand up the Klondike Valley and take in a little bit of West Dawson. Instead, the Municipal Board reversed the proportions, limiting the Klondike Valley expansion and granting control over a large, unreachable tract of land across the bridgeless Yukon River.

Lately, Dawson's been trying to hand some of that land back. Dealing with it just seems to be impossible.


Klondike MLA Deplores Floodwatch Devolution

by Dan Davidson

Peter Jenkins was predictably irate when asked his opinion about the federal decision to eliminate the annual snow and flood monitoring programs in the Yukon.

This was one heck of a time," said the Yukon Party's MLA for Klondike, "to stop the flood watch, right before the spring flood." The actual word was received by the Yukon government and the City of Dawson on April 11, and though the program was extended for the rests of this season just a week later, the maneuvering has left local politicians more than a little shaken and concerned about the future.

"It's a very highly technical area, too," he reflected, wondering who could do this sort of essential service if the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs won't. Could it be that only this federal agency really has the background and experience to make the program work?

That is exactly correct," Jenkins shot back. "I'm ticked right off as usual. To dump that on the Yukon just before you need the data is ridiculous." He's relieved that the program has been restored for this year, but finds it hard to believe that such a standard, vital program wasn't even in line budget for the department any more, and had not been for five years.

In light of what's transpired in northern Quebec and Shawinigan and Manitoba, and what has happened in British Columbia in the past and could happen again in the Yukon, DIAND should be on top of it.

It's nuts. It's not something that you can devolve to a junior level of government and get them to have an understanding of it unless you transfer the personnel and the funding. As far as I'm concerned it's a national undertaking and should remain so. That's probably one of the reasons that Canada is Canada."

Concerned parties have about eight months to figure out how to fund this program for next winter, when DIAND says it will not be taking it on. Regional Director Mike Ivanski has said his department is willing to help other levels of government find solutions, but DIAND just doesn't have the funds to continue a $100,000 annual program anymore.


Uffish Thoughts: Till the Rivers All Run Dry

by Dan Davidson

The Flintstones meet what's left of the ice age in Dawson. Photo by Diane Marengere

The program has dried up," said Mike Ivanski, Regional Director of DIAND, as he explained how the annual snow survey and floodwatch funding had been tied to the now defunct Arctic Environmental Strategy.

The AES may be gone, but unfortunately the conditions which annually give rise to a need for snow surveys and flood watches are likely to be with us in the long term.

At least until the rivers dry up, and that hardly seems to be a likely prospect.

In fact, it doesn't seem to be a prospect anywhere on the continent. The annual story is floods, floods, floods. Perhaps we ought to check and see if there isn't some guy out there named Noah offering tickets on a 40 day cruise.

Last week's news was full of water. Citizens in southern Manitoba were advised to get out of their homes and find higher ground away from their river. In the USA a small city of 50,000 had thrown in its sandbags, so to speak, and advised evacuation. At the same time a couple of square blocks in the city were on fire, and no one could get to them because of the flooding.

Natural disasters are the sort of area where some kind of federal agency should be involved in the monitoring and prevention of problems. The reports on the massive flooding in Quebec just last year seem to bear this out.

Merely expecting the people who were managing the dams in that area wasn't good enough. A regional management authority with ties to a higher level of government might have overridden the over-optimistic prognostications of those who didn't want to chance losing a little money by playing it safe with the water flow from the dams.

So instead of reduced cash flow, we got vastly increased and mismanaged water flow, with hundreds of millions in personal losses as the payoff for corporations hedging their bets and maintaining their profits.

Someone has to regulate this sort of thing or it gets out of hand pretty quickly.

It seems to me that the federal government is the one best positioned to do that job. Talking with the regional director of DIAND about the complexities of the annual snow survey and flood watch program I got the clear impression that this is not a simple program that can be handed off to the junior levels of government.

There's no way to simply say, "Here, you do it now. We're finished."

There's a lot of technical equipment involved. There's specialized training. There are interpretative skills that require access to a computer model, a massive data base of past results, links with the folks in the weather department, the ability and knowledge to correlate all those data streams and have them mean something useful at the other end of the process.

But it's all part of devolution, right? All part of improving our national balance sheet and reducing the deficit?

Devolution. That used to be a code word that meant the territory would gain the authority and the finances that would allow it to run itself in a more effective and locally responsible fashion. Nowadays, it's a code word for downloading programs that have had their resources gutted before they arrive on our doorstep.

Reducing the deficit. That should have meant engaging in an exercise to spend our money more wisely. This should have included some taxes, some economic incentives and some cuts. None of that happened.

The GST was supposed to have been invented to gather funds for the purpose of reducing the deficit. Instead it created an untaxable underground economy, thus depriving the government of more resources and helping to trigger a depression.

Keeping the dollar strong was the ostensible excuse for high interest rates, which turned out to the be the other key to that recession.

Cuts were supposed to create more efficient government agencies and somehow leave dollars free for incentives. Haven't seen it yet. Probably won't.

Instead we have basic programs vanishing from the shelf of resources. Maybe the local answer is to put in a massive request to the Department of Canadian Heritage for thousands of new Canadian flags. They seem to have millions to spend on this program. We can sew them together two at a time, fill them with sand and wait to see how things go.


Editorial: Happy Birthday to Us

by Dan Davidson

It's our birthday. Well, almost.

The actual cover date of our very first issue was May 25, 1989. Up until last year that meant that our May issue was our anniversary date. Last year we got confused by May because there were two May issues for the first time.

We finally decided, for the sake of sanity and billings, that it would be best if we just accepted that we began in May and that each volume number should conclude at the end of April.

So here we are at the beginning of volume 9.

There were a good many people out there who thought we'd never make to issue #2, let alone volume 2 or, even more unlikely, volume 9. Some of them are still out there, still saying just that.

We have been through a lot of changes since that first May issue. It was largely typeset by Chere Mitchell, using my wife's Laser 128 in the next room while I did the text for the ads and headline type from this desk. For the next issue we had our first office computer, which we still use for the simpler functions we need to perform. We have three other machines, now, two of which are used to do most of the layout.

The typeface was blocky and uneven, set in columns on an old dot-matrix machine that is now gathering dust in one of my closets. We printed out strips of text and glued them manually onto our layout sheets, hoping we didn't get the order of the pieces mixed up during the process of arranging the jigsaw puzzle than was each page.

We're on our third laser printer now, one that has allowed us to print out entire pages at a time, pages set up and designed on the computer screen, a much less time consuming process.

Those first pages were assembled in the back room of the senior's hall that sat where the ambulance station is now. These days we have spacious quarters of our own in the Waterfront Building.

We began with nine directors on our board, if memory serves, and have slimmed down to four over the years. That first board had vision, and the guts to do something that a lot of people thought couldn't be done. Hats off to Sue Ward, Kathy Jones-Gates, Richard Blais, John & Madeleine Gould, Dawne Mitchell and Chere Mitchell for daring to get this thing started, along with Palma Berger and me.

Those of us here today still try to keep the Sun shining.


Food Bank is Only for Emergencies

by Dan Davidson

The funniest misconception about the food bank at Saint Mary's Catholic Church comes from a bar, of course. Father Tim Coonen passes it on with a grin. It seems there's this fellow in one of the bars with a bit of a load on, and one of Coonen's parishioners hears him complaining about how daring those #&%$ "hippies" are getting to be this year.

Why, he says, now they're going around town leaving brown grocery bags on peoples' doorsteps with notes on 'em saying they'll be back to pick 'em up on Saturday.

Not really. The Saturday in question was April 19 and on that day members of the congregations from Saint Mary's, Saint Paul's Anglican Church and the Dawson Community Gospel Chapel did go around and pick up the brown bags they had circulated the week before.

This was all in aid of establishing a temporary food bank for newly arrived summer workers, whom some local people do tend to call "hippies", who might need a bit of help getting on their feet right at the beginning if the season. The program will run for just a little over a month, wrapping up in early June. Any food left over from Dawson's generosity will be donated to the Women's Shelter at that time.

The idea grew out of a church meeting a few weeks ago where members of Coonen's congregation were discussing various models of church behavior.

We discovered that the model that we're weakest in, in this particular church is 'servant', as in 'what can we do for the community?'"

There was a perception among the group that service to transients might be needed. Coonen checked around the next day. Social Services, Klondike Outreach and the Women's Shelter agreed that a relatively small percentage of the many summer workers that go through here does get itself into trouble and needs help, usually help that moves a little faster than the length of time it takes Social Services to respond.

It can take three to seven days to get a grocery voucher though that route.

Thus the plan was born, and then modified slightly to include a weekly free supper held at the Youth Centre on Tuesdays.

"So we're giving a bag of groceries to people in dire need - so far there's been little need shown - and we're serving a once a week warm meal." Coonen is most emphatic about the short term nature of this project. It ends by early June because "by that time people should either be established or heading south."

It's also intended to be a one-time handout: "People who need further assistance can come back - once - but probably not within about three weeks." Those getting groceries have to go through a bit of an interview first, to demonstrate their need and perhaps to receive some sage advice about what they should do with themselves next.

The supper has no such strings attached.

If they come for the meal, it's as much a social thing as anything else. It's our way of saying welcome to Dawson, meet some more people. For some people who have been living in tents in snow banks, I think it would be nice to get out to something a little warmer and more friendly, some other side of Dawson besides the bars."

The program has been a little bit controversial, but mainly due to misunderstandings about its goals and time frame. Some people have told Coonen that there are people in Dawson who need this type of thing just as much. If there are people who need this kind of assistance," he says, "it should be done. A food bank for Dawson would be a big project and maybe it needs to be looked at."

In spite of some complaints, Dawsonites have been generous. Coonen has tales of people telling him and other volunteers how skeptical they are about the idea, while at the same time they are filling up the bags and passing them out the door.

There's only been one food canvas. It netted enough for about 50 bags of groceries and took hardly any time, just a few hours. There might be need for another later on when the numbers pick up.

If the idea rubs a few people the wrong way, Coonen really doesn't care.

That's part of the Gospel," he says lightly. "Jesus didn't get nailed to the cross for saying things that people wanted to hear. Doing something because you believe it's the right thing and needs to be done, that's going to get some flak. That's not necessarily a bad thing."


Transient Campground Rules are Approved

by Dan Davidson

Already summer workers have arrived and begun tenting in the bush. Photo by Leanne MacKenzie

In anticipation of the flood of summer workers, which has already begun to arrive in the Klondike, Dawson's council has prepared and enacted "A Bylaw to Regulate the West Dawson Seasonal Campground", known officially as bylaw #97-02.

The West Dawson area along the highway past the ferry landing on the west bank of the Yukon River is the area in which transients can expect to be permitted to camp without being asked sternly to move along. It will be open from May 15 (by which time the George Black Ferry will be running) to September 15 this year. This area is provided with outhouses and garbage collection on a user-pay basis which will be covered under the fees.

Prospective residents at the site must now apply for spaces, which will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis by the City of Dawson. A contract employee will be hired for the purpose of managing, supervising and maintaining the area during the term of operation.

Regulations regarding building, access, types of accommodation, noise levels, open fires and general campsite cleanliness have been included in the bylaw.

Most contentious will probably be the notion that resident campers should pay fees. This was not popular when it began in the middle of the last season, but this year it will begin right away, so people will not be used to camping for nothing.

At most residents will be expected to pay $100.00 for the season, and this is the cheapest way by far to do it, since it works out to about $1.11 per day over a projected 90 day season. By comparison, the fees will be $3 daily, $15 per week, and $50 per month.

There are considerable teeth in this bylaw. Violators can look forward to eviction notices which will be enforced within 24 hours. Failure to comply could result in confiscation of "the resident's tent, property, resident vehicle of other vehicle on the site". These might be kept for up to 30 days for the owner to reclaim them.

Offenders might also incur considerable fines, up to $10,000 for serious offences, or summary conviction tickets in amounts up to $500 for lesser offences.


IODE Annual General Meeting

The IODE held their annual general meeting on March 2nd. The officers for 1997 were elected and are Joyce Caley as Regent, Myrna Butterworth as vice-Regent, Rose Margeson as Secretary and Uta Reilly as Treasurer. Marion Hadley will be responsible for services, Kathy Webster for Education, Michelle Caley for Communications, Diane Wierda for Memberships and Nancy Kidd for War Memorial. National Councillors for 1997 are Joyce Caley and Myrna Butterworth.

Over the past we continued our fundraising witht eh Christmas raffle and the Ice Pool contest. Our 1996 ice pool was not as successful as in previous years but we were still able to raise funds to carry on our local donations. To help raise awareness of the IODE and its programs, an information booth was set up at the celebrations for the opening of the Commissioner's Residence, and put in a display at the library. The Commissioner's Tea is an annual high profile event for our DAwson City chapter. As in the past, the Tea was a great success and enjoyed by both members of the community and visitors to Dawson.

With the help from IODE National Office, Sabrina Frangetti, a local student with special needs, has a laptop computer to help with her at-home studies. She is now exploring the world of the internet and making new friends on-line. The IODE awards a $350.00 David Murphy scholarship to a Dawson student who is continuing their education. This year's scholarship was awarded to Matthew Van Nostrant. We had more applicants than in past years. We hope to see this continue. For the coming year the scholarship will be raised to $500.00.

In this Fall we received many donations of goods from members of the community to help with our annual Seniors Christmas Parcels. With many volunteers and help from the Dawson City Firefighters the packing and delivering of 60 parcels went smoothly. Judging from the many cards we received the parcels are much appreciated by the seniors in town.

This year our list of donations are as follows:

Local Donations

Donations, this year, were also given to 2 Dawson fire victims and the school in Old Crow.

The mission of IODE is to improve the quality of life for children, youth and those in need, through educational, social services and citizenships programs. We would never be able to accomplish this without our community support.


Much Ado about Shakespeare

by Leanne MacKenzie
Sun Staff

Melrose Place, Kurt Cobain, and fax machines are not exactly your typical Shakespeare lingo. The Nakai Theatre nevertheless used these and other "present day" phrases in the recent production, "Shakespeare Shakedown."

They're putting on the educational production for grades 5-12 around the Yukon. Stage manager Joanne Lance said, "the need for theatre in the smaller communities, especially educational theatre, has been mentioned more than once."

Six months ago Evette Nolan (from Winnipeg) and Philip Adams (from Whitehorse) combined their talents to write a play that would appeal to young minds and educate at the same time.

I had to admit listening to a rap version of Romeo and Juliet was a little disconcerting at first but after hearing the laughter of the kids, I started to get into it.

Putting my rusty Shakespeare knowledge to the test I tried to identify the play before they gave any names. Sorry to say I only got 3 out of 4 right. Should have paid a bit more attention in English.

Using scenes from Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, King Lear and Macbeth, they started out by combining Shakespeare and modern day language to acclimatize us then by the end were giving us full Shakespeare lingo.

Like the other adults attending, I enjoyed the parody. As to the target group (the students) they had a good laugh and enjoyable afternoon break.


Playwriting Competition

by Peter Maxwell

Starting at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 19th and finishing at 9:00 a.m. Sunday, april 20th, a 24-hour playwriting contest was held in our fair town of Dawson City.

The event was quite successful with five entrants and as many original scripts, all of which were written on location in the Computer Lab. at Robert Service School. Thanks to Dan Davidson, the school and its administrators. Cash prizes, courtesy of Dawson City Drama Club, are to be awearded to 1st., 2nd. and 3rd. place winners. These being, respectively, Jack Fraser (1st.), $100.00; Helen Winton (2nd.), $50.00; and Kieran Daunt (3rd.) $25.00. Judging of the plays submitted was heroically performed by a panel of three, including Bob Laking, Kathy Donnelly and Elizabeth Conallen. Much gratitude to these three for their labours.

All five plays have been forwarded to Nakai Theatree to be entered in their 11th Annual 24 hr Playwriting Contest.

Finally, the organizing body of the contest would like to thank the entrants and all those who played a part, no matter how small or unrealized this may be, in the success of the event.


Taylor Leads CYFN

by Dan Davidson

Steve Taylor, chief of the Tr'ondek Hwetchin, has been appointed acting Grand Chief of the Council for Yukon First Nations. The current Grand Chief, Shirley Adamson, has stepped down in order to run for the Liberal candidacy in the upcoming federal election.

Taylor has been filling in for the last several weeks and will continue to do so until Adamson either wins the nomination on returns to her office. The Dawson First nation is rotating the chief's responsibilities during the interim.

Census '96

Population and Dwelling counts


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