Dawson City, Yukon Friday, October 13, 2000

First snowfall here left the town dusted with snow. We've had more snow, rain, a thaw and fresh snow since, but this is how things looked from the top of the Dome on September 24. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

New City Offices Invite Visitors
"Signs, Signs, Everywhere Are Signs"
Dawson Blames YTG for Recreation Delays
Dawson Honours its Own
Dawson Chamber Presents Honours
Dawson's Council Race in Brief
Dawson Is One of the Prettiest

Welcome to the October 13th on-line edition of the Klondike Sun. This is the abridged version of our 28 page Oct. 11th hard copy edition. Wish we could share everything, but getting a subscription (see our home page) is the only way you'll ever see it all. Approximately 500 people viewed our last on-line issue.

A note to those like our friends from Chicago who are wondering why this issue is late. Your editor is a full-time school teacher who usually selects the website material for posting on the weekend after the news stand edition appears. Last weekend, however, I was out of town on school business, and our municipal election this week left me without time to do this chore any sooner.

New City Offices Invite Visitors

by Dan Davidson

Lots of space and elbow room would be one way to describe the new office space. Ratepayers will soon be able to use Interact, credit cards or even pay their bill over the Internet. Photo by Dan Davidson

There was no fanfare as such, but City of Dawson staff noted a steady stream of visitors to the new facility on Front Street when the official open house was held on October 2. It had been just over 13 months since the building had departed its foundation on Fifth Avenue and trundled to this new lot on Front Street, facing the Yukon River.

There are still a lot of stairs between the visitor and the second floor offices but the 32 steps and broken up by three landings and it seems a lot easier. If you have a heavy load or a sore back there is an (admittedly slow) elevator which will take the strain off you.

Office space for the staff is airy and cheerful, with a great view of the Yukon River, while the city treasurer's office actually has a window for the first time. The fire chief is also on the same floor as the other managers, with quick access to the fire hall down below. Until the recreation centre improvements are done, the rec. manager also an office the building.

The offices of the city manager and mayor are smaller than in the previous version of this building, but they do have a great view.

Council chambers are now entered through attractive glass double doors. The new chamber is about the same size as the former quarters, but is narrower and deeper. From here, as soon as it is technically feasible, all public council meetings will be broadcast on cable television.

Chambers had already received its public baptism at a recreation update meeting held over the weekend, and by the time the clock rolled around to the regular council meeting at 7:30 that Monday there was no one left but the usual councillors, one member of the press, and a couple of election candidates getting themselves acclimatized to the Monday night marathon.


"Signs, Signs, Everywhere Are Signs"

by Dan Davidson

This collage of Klondike Highway signs between the airport and the town shows some examples of the signs under discussion. Photo by Dan Davidson

About the only firm statement to come out of a joint city council/chamber of commerce meeting on September 30 was that the Downtown Hotel will be removing its sign from the roadside as soon as Dick Van Nostrand's chainsaw comes back from the repair shop.

Dick and Joann Van Nostrand, owners of the hotel, were by far the most vocal proponents of a proposal to remove or regulate highway signs along the approach to Dawson City and promote the use of the Welcome to Dawson roadside kiosk as a place to do advertising.

Most other people are the meeting were opposed to removing the signs, though there was general support for the idea of regulation.

Mayor Glen Everitt opened the meeting by giving some background on the YTG's plan to extend control of a sign right-of-way to municipalities within their borders, a plan which goes back to the Pearson government of 1984. The City of Dawson has been reluctant to take on the downloading of responsibility and enforcement that would go with that move, and has not itself issued any sign permits since 1996.

The kiosk program was an initiative of the business community the Chamber and the Klondyke Centennials Society and the kiosk went up amidst almost universal disapproval in 1998. Subsequently, the facade design was modified into its present attractive appearance by volunteers working with the Dawson City Arts Society.

Dawson has no plans to force people to participate in the kiosk program, or to remove any of the signs along the highway, Everitt told the group. Chamber manager Gail Calder delivered the same message back in August, but this is Dawson: rumours persist.

While the Downtown Hotel owners plan to remove their sign soon, others, such as Trading Post co-owner Ron Ryant, feel that a highway sign is a much better way to advertise than putting up a plaque inside the kiosk.

The Van Nostrands cited the example of Prince Edward Island, where highway signs come in two standard sizes and colours. One colour is for official signs, the other, still in an unobtrusive size, is for commercial advertising. There are very few commercial signs and almost no billboards in the province, which has taken the stand that its scenery is its greatest attraction and that they don't want it hidden.

Several people felt that a combination of the kiosk program and standard signs like that could be a possible solution. But that would need territorial legislation and regulation.

Jon Magnuson, of Dawson City Bed and Breakfast, said that if the kiosk program ever becomes the main sign venue it will been to have a larger pull-out area, will need a map holder, bathrooms and a public telephone.

There was much discussion about the aesthetic pros and cons of the current situation. On the side of removing them all was Dick Van Nostrand, who feels that they create a shabby entrance to the town. On the other side were business owners Gail Hendley and Mayor Everitt, who said they have heard good things about the signs, that many of them have a unique flavour.

Hendley said she is usually asked to defend the existence of the dredge tailings, but Van Nostrand said his van passengers usually question the signs.

Dina Cayen said she heard lots of sign complaints during her years with the chamber, usually about misinformation rather than appearance. She added, however, that she did not think the signs were likely to go away, and so, for her, the main issue was the need to pressure the government to enforce its existing rules about size, spacing and maintenance.

Most of those present agreed that supervision of the present rules is very lax, and discussed methods of improving it, including a suggestion to have the government sub-contract the service to the chamber for a fee.

There was no resolution of the issue at the end of the meeting, which sort of disintegrated about about 90 minutes. For the time being, the rule will be signs AND the kiosk, and the two philosophies will have to battle it out.

While that happens however, the municipality will encourage YTG to remove some of the empty sign frames which still litter the highway and to make those who have signs keep them in good repair and up-to-date.


Dawson Blames YTG for Recreation Delays

by Dan Davidson

The Bonanza Centre Arena will be undergoing extensive renovations over the winter and hockey players will have to tough it out for this season. Photo by Dan Davidson

There's good news and bad news when it comes to recreation facilities in Dawson City. The good news is that most of the proposed rec. package is being built. The bad news is that the changes won't be finished until early summer next year and that hockey this year will be an outdoor affair.

Mayor Glen Everitt is blaming the lion's share of the delay in construction on the territorial government, which, over the summer, wrangled hard to get out of commitments that it had made to the town right after the election when it agreed to honour the promises which had been made by the NDP before they were defeated.

Part of the change is that $4.8 million of the promised funding has been frozen for use in the secondary sewage treatment program, leaving the recreation project short of funds.

Another part is that the bids for the total project came in well over the architect's estimates. The council had planned to spend $6.3 million on the project and the lowest bid was $7.9.

Worse for council, it had been obligated, under the terms of the original Capital Funding Agreement with the McDonald government to be at a certain phase in its renovations by the fall of this year. Release of funding was tied to progress.The specific point mentioned was the installation of thermal siphon units beneath the curling rink and ice arena in order to stabilize the new foundation and cement surfaces when they are installed.

For this reason both facilities had already been gutted by the end of the summer on the expectation of grant money from YTG. The negotiations to release that money did not bear fruit until September 18, at almost the last minutes before the bid prices from TSL contracting would have been able to change.

The project is now progressing. The remaining building is being pared back to its steel frame and them rebuilt and extended to provide a larger, better arena and a new curling rink. A second floor above the extension will eventually become available for activities, but finishing that floor,as well as adding on the intended gymnasium space, will have to wait for a second phase of construction.

That, Everitt told the meeting, will be the task of the next council after the election on October 19.

Present to discuss technical aspects of the project was Don Smith of TSL, and he held the room quite well for a good half hour, thinking he was explaining work opportunities to potential tradespeople.

The real question on peoples' minds was, however, what about the promised hockey season? Everitt repeated that an outdoor arena of some type, protected from wind in some way, would be put in place in Minto Park, where they could make use of the washroom facilities and concession area for change rooms and where there were stands for viewing.

Recreation staff were still compiling alternatives at the time of that meeting (September 30), but had had to reject a top of the line outdoor system as being too dear at $100 thousand. The annual cost of using the arena has been about $65,000, so there is about that much to play with in the budget (projecting into next year's budget, which will be designed by the next council).

There followed some practical discussion about arrangements for clearing the ice of snow and use of the zamboni, but people seemed resigned to the challenge if not exactly pleased by it. Everitt pointed out that there was outdoor hockey for two years the last time the recreations centre had been renovated.

There is to be an announcement on the subject in the next issue of the Klondike Sun.


Dawson Honours its Own

by Dan Davidson

For her work with her aging parents, Margaret Henry received a Family Values Award. Photo by Dan Davidson

Dawson honoured its own at a recent Volunteer Appreciation Night held at Diamond Tooth Gerties. The official season there may be over, but there are still enough trained staff who winter in the town to be able to open up a few of the tables and power up the slot machines for an evening's fun.

This evening was to honour the many volunteers - a list of a hundred or so names was on the advertising - who had helped to make things work so well during the summer just past.

The usual entertainers had departed for the season, but the Klondike Visitors Association brought in Wallstreet, a talented quartet from Vancouver, who provided an evening of solid musical entertainment in every style from Creedance Clearwater Revival to Ricky Martin.

However, the less said about their jokes the better.

More than just an evening of music, fun and games, the event was the occasion for the presentation of a number of awards.

Mayor Glen Everitt gave out two awards on behalf of the City of Dawson.

Madeleine Gould is involved in half a dozen organizations in town. She takes kids photos for the Klondike Sun, plays hostess at the offices of the Klondike Centennial Society all summer, helps organize the local radio station, collects recyclables to support the school choir and assists in the daily breakfast program at the Robert Service School.

For all of this activity, Everitt presented her with the city's Volunteer of the Year Award. And then a rare thing occurred: Madeleine couldn't think of a thing to say.

Margaret Henry is among those who take it in shifts to maintain the 24 hour care givers' watch on Joe and Annie Henry, who have needed this service for several years now. While there are paid care givers for the elder Henrys, family involvement is purely volunteer, and Darcy Braga nominated Margaret for service well beyond even the call of family duty She and her son, Joe, have put in countless hours looking after Joe and Annie.

For this, Margaret received the Family Values Award.

The KVA also had a volunteer award to present. It went to Akio Saito, who was give the credit for helping to make The Gold Panning Championships on July 1 a success.


Dawson Chamber Presents Honours

by Dan Davidson

Wayne Rachel and Michel Dupont. Photo by Dan Davidson

Amongst the dull business of bridge committee reports and financial statements, the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce found time this year to honour a few of its members.

Wayne Rachel, of Callison Waste Management, received the Business Person of the Year Award for the fine service he has been offering throughout the community. Wayne holds the City of Dawson's garbage collection contract as well as a few private ones, and has been known to go the extra mile and take extreme measures to take out the trash.

He was presented with his plaque by chamber president Michel Dupont.

The chamber's membership also appreciated a great deal the efforts made by the Dawson City Post Office to get everyone through the summer with a minimum of line-ups. Some joked that, while you had to bring your lunch with you in the summer of 1999, this summer just passed was notable for its absence of line-ups. Two postal workers received the award on behalf of the whole crew.

The chamber was also pleased to note that it had made some profit on the Yukon Miners's Directory, which was prepared last year by Harper Street Publishing. The profits were split between the chamber and the Klondike Placer Miner's Association, represented at this meeting by past president Stewart Schmidt.


Dawson's Council Race in Brief

by Dan Davidson

The race for those comfortable chairs behind the council table in the new city hall is clearly on. Statements from the candidates can be found elsewhere in this edition, but here's a brief look at the field.

Mayor Glen Everitt indicated months ago that he would run for another term. It was one of the primary reasons why he did not make an attempt to challenge Peter Jenkins for the position of MLA in the spring election. He is running on his record, which he says is one of solving problems collectively.

Rising to challenge him is local placer miner and tourist operator David Millar, who first made his mark in politics by coming out of nowhere to beat Art Webster for the MLA's job in 1992. He stayed in office only one term, choosing to withdraw in favour of Peter Jenkins.

Even before he filed his nomination papers, Millar began campaigning in earnest, with items on the radio and a door to door campaign. So far his message has been the classic conservative outsider's call for fiscal responsibility, coupled with the complaint that Everitt spends too much time away from the community.

Incumbents Ades Scheer and Joann Van Nostrand are going for second terms, each feeling that they have things left to accomplish. They, too, are running on their records and indicating that they stand for continuity with the current direction of council.

Taken together with Everitt, you would have to see them as a team.

Councillors Eleanor Van Bibber and Shirley Pennell are not running again. Van Bibber has long ago indicated that her health was not up to the schedule.

Three time councillor Pennell is retiring from her teaching career at the end of this school year and plans to be away part of next year studying her lifelong passion of art. She says she will not take on a take a task from which she knows she would have to withdraw.

She also said she wishes it to be made clear that she is very pleased with her time on council and with the record of the current council. She feels much has been accomplished and wishes she did have the time to follow through on those initiatives.

Four others have tossed their hats into the ring. Byrun Shandler, who works at Parks Canada, has been a political activist for years, but usually behind the scenes. He is known for his community volunteer work. He professes to agree with most of what the current council has done.

Wayne Potoroka, an employee of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in, is also generally in agreement with the status quo. Potoroka has been heavily involved with the Dawson City Music Festival over the last few years.

Frank Narozny is a long time Klondike Valley resident who has no previous political background in this area.

Gloria Baldwin-Schultz, a councillor with Yukon Family Services, is the final candidate.


Dawson Is One of the Prettiest

by Dan Davidson

The home of Akio and Suzanne Saito is one of Dawson's prettier painted places.

Dawson City has been selected as one of the three "Prettiest Places in Canada" according to the Pennsylvania based Paint Quality Institute. Members of the local chamber of commerce got the news at their annual general meeting on September 30.

Dawson joins Lunenburg, N.S. and Saint John's, Nfld., in being celebrated for their "love of colour" in the words of the PQI press release.

The judging for the contest was done by a panel from Canadian House and Home magazine and the Paint Quality Institute. The judges viewed slide presentations of each community.

Dawson's initial submission was handled by Dina Cayen, who was then working for the chamber, and Kelly Millar of the Klondyke Centennials Society. Once the community was in the running, local photographer Kevin Hastings prepared a slide show and video for the judging.

John Stauffer, North American Director of the PQI, was full of praise for all three communities.

"Every town made a great showing in the final judging. All of the places are to be commended on their outstanding use of paint.

"When you look at a place like Dawson City, which uses a rainbow of colours to set its buildings apart from the usually stark backdrop of the snow-covered mountains, or a place like Lunenburg, which has long been know for the quality of its painted buildings, you see the difference a top quality paint can make in the appearance of a community."

The PQI, which was formed in 1989, first held competition in the USA in 1997 and again in 2000. This year was its first foray into Canada. Dawson made the final three from a list of eight finalists.

All three communities are now featured on the PQI's website, which is found at www.paintquality.com


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