Klondike Sun ~ March 26, 2004
Welcome to the March 26, 2004 online edition of the Klondike Sun, reproducing a selection of the articles and photographs from the March 23 newsstand edition.
As you can see, this issue contained some key developments in the events which led to the dissolution of Dawson’s council. It’s a fascinating story.
The Sun has only recently been updated on the web after a hiatus since the January 16/04 issue. We have been some time working out another way to get back online.
We have had many inquiries about the absence of current issues here, and we note that the site has had more than 1,000 hits since the last new posting.
As this new site develops over the next few months you will note changes in the format. We expect to be asking you to pay something in order to gain access to these files, and will be giving you an option of an issue-by-issue or yearly rate. In the time we have been online, since 1997, the site has had free access. We have tried asking for donations, and if the nearly 100,000 hits on the site had each generated a loonie, we’d be laughing right now, but it hasn’t worked out that way. We need to make enough money to pay for the existence of the site, and perhaps a bit more to help our bottom line.
Trail Fast for the Percy this Year, but the Wind is Drifting
by Dan Davidson
Just before ten o’clock they began to gather on a frosty, sunny Thursday morning, lining the boardwalks on both sides of King Street beside the Old Post Office and the Palace Grand Theatre, a picture perfect setting for the start of the last great dog race of the 2004 season, the 28th annual Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race.
Elementary school students arrived with their teachers and some parents (the high school was writing examinations this year) while kids filed in from the daycare, and lots of people simply took half an hour out of their day to see the 19 teams head out.
The dog trucks lined the streets in every direction from the intersection of King and Third. Straw spilled onto the snow which had been trucked in to pave the route the teams would take west to the dyke, north in the direction of the ferry landing, over the dyke, across the Yukon River and off on the 210 mile round trip to Eagle, Alaska, the end point of the traditional mail route followed by Percy DeWolfe in all seasons through the 39 years that the Iron Man delivered the mail.
Nobody spotted the man himself, as team #1 was announced and made its way out of town at 10 a.m. sharp. Team #1 always manages to sneak onto the trail first. The rest of the dogs were yelping and leaping in their traces as their handlers moved them to the chain which marked the starting line. Maybe they can see what humans can’t.
Team #2, somewhat more corporeal, and headed by Anne Ledwidge of Dawson City, left just a few minutes later, after receiving the official mail sack of commemorative envelopes from Postmaster Lambert Curzon and his RCMP escort. Anne was cheered on by a cluster of primary school students waving signs, her own children among them.
After her at two minute intervals, came the remaining 17 teams: Marcus Ohm (Ft. St. James, BC), Blaine Walden (Whitehorse), Ed Hopkins (Tagish YT), Gerry Willimitzer (Whitehorse), Craig Houghton (Ft. St. James, BC), John Douglas (Ft. Fraser, BC), Deb Bicknell (Juneau, AK), Catherine Pinard (Whitehorse, YT), Terry Houghton (Ft. St. James), Hans Gatt (Atlin BC), Robin Harvey (Yellowknife, NWT), Solomon Carrier (Cumberland House, Sask.), Michael Salvisberg (Haines Jct), Saul Turner (Ottawa, Ont.), Daniel Vetsch (Bezanson, AB), John Samdal (Norway), Dieter Dolif (Fairbanks, AK).
There were no serious problems with the start. One team did miss the markers leading to the dyke and headed for the ferry landing instead. Another early team got off the track on the river, but after a number of teams had gone by there was probably a scent trail to follow, and the rest seemed to figure it out.
With no Brian MacDougall (the winner of nine races, and last year’s champ) or William Kleedehn (last year’s second place) in the running this year, it’s hard to say what might happen out there on the ice and in the bush. Perhaps the race will belong to Ed Hopkins, who came third last year and won the race in 1999, and whose name is often in the top five.
Last year’s record breaking time was 18 hours and 46 minutes, but the race is usually run in around 24 hours, not counting the mandatory 6 hour layover in Eagle.
It had been -24°C when the race began, but it was warmer later in the day. By mid-afternoon Bridget Amos at the Dawson checkpoint was saying that the trail was fast, but a wind blew up later, and drifting was reported along the Fortymile stretch by a snowmobiler arriving in Dawson. Certainly, in town, the wind was kicking up sharp spicules of crusty snow that stung the cheeks.
Ed Hopkins was the first to reach Fortymile, arriving at 14:52, but Hans Gatt, another Percy veteran, was close behind and actually left there before him. Everyone had reached that marker by 15:30.
Meanwhile, back in Dawson, the Junior Percy, an overnight race to Fortymile and back, took from with a mass start on the ice bridge at noon. This is a 110 mile race with overnight camping at Fortymile. The racers begin their trek back to Dawson at 10 a.m. on Friday morning. Between them and those in the Memorial Race, a steady stream of dogs should be visible from the dyke most of the afternoon.
By 9 that night Carolyn Turner was reporting from the checkpoint that all the Juniors were in Fortymile, led by 17 year old Kiara Adams of Whitehorse, who ran the route in 5 hours and 2 minutes.
The final race in the weekend’s triple play is the Klondyke Challenge, a 10 mile, mass start race held on the Yukon River on Saturday afternoon as part of the weekend’s Thaw di Graw spring carnival.
YTG Supervisor Recommends Removal of Dawson’s Council
by Dan Davidson
Dawson’s financial supervisor, André Carrel, is still in place and has recommended the dissolution of the town’s council following its refusal to obey his instructions in the matter of the awarding of a garbage hauling contract.
Mayor Glen Everitt was astounded to have this confirmed from Minister Glen Hart in a meeting this morning, especially after having been informed repeatedly over the last two weeks by YTG staff that Carrel was being replaced as the supervisor.
Everitt was expecting to learn the name of the new person, who has already accepted the position but has not been identified, this morning. Instead, it was confirmed that Carrel is still on the job.
Carrel was interviewed on CBC radio this morning, leading the morning news with his objections to the garbage contract,, which he characterized as a “Cadillac’’ system. He also said the tender award was in violation of the financial plan which he and the City of Dawson had developed and signed off on in January.
How this can be is unclear since the budget expenditure line for waste management reads $171,400, and the new contract does not go beyond that. Revenues for this service were to have been $111,000 in 2004, but Everitt says they will now be higher due to increases in fees to certain types of commercial establishments which a study has found generate more than the average waste load.
Members of the Chamber of Commerce were in attendance at the March 16 council meeting and spoke in support of both the rate increases and the new waste management plan that s in development by the town.
Chamber president Martin Gehrig proclaimed that his organization was “totally in favour” of the proposed regime.
Carrel, on the other hand, told CBC that he will not allow passage of the fee bylaw which would allow the town to collect the funds needed to pay for the service, and that council’s refusal to obey his orders puts it in violation of the terms of his appointment.
His letter of instruction, dated October 23, 2003 does says that he has the power to “withhold approval of any bylaws respecting the program of the City of Dawson until you are in agreement with such bylaws” although the context of the letter does seem to place this within the framework of drafting a financial plan and the town not exceeding the parameters of that plan.
This is why Mayor Everitt says he and his council are not backing down. He says that Carrel was aware of the request for proposals on the waste management plan when he was in the town in January and expressed no interest in the process or the outcome until after it had been awarded a month later. Everitt says that since it falls within the approved financial plan the city is not in violation and sees this as undue interference in its operations.
He says he was told by Minister Hart that the minister would be seeking an opinion from the justice department as to whether the town has breached the financial plan and if it had the legal authority to issue a request for proposals and award a contract in the manner that it did.
Everitt “relatively happy” with arbitration report, but cannot give details
by Dan Davidson
One might have expected that Dawson’s city council would have been a bit frustrated on Tuesday night. After all, the ruling from arbitrator Chris O’Connor, all 141 pages of it, was sitting right there on the council table, and no one could say a thing about it.
“I’ve been gagged on the ruling,” Everitt told the meeting. “Arbitration law does not permit me to reveal anything in the ruling.”
The exception would be if both sides in the case, the City of Dawson and TSL Contracting, agreed to release an executive summary of the award, leaving out the details and just getting to the conclusions.
Council drafted a resolution at the March 16 meeting instructing the town’s lawyers to seek such an arrangement with TSL’s president, Don Smith.
“Everybody knows,” Everitt said, “that this council made it clear that we want a summary of the award as public information.”
“Am I upset over the ruling?” he asked rhetorically. “No.”
He did say he was surprised by a few of the decisions, but that he was “relatively happy” about the ruling.
Council will not be requesting that the YTG takes steps to replace it with a trustee, which is an indication that the amount of the award was below the magic number of $1.3 million given as the trigger for such an action by the most recent municipal supervisor, André Carrel, when he reported to Minister of Community Services Glen Hart at the end of January.
During Carrel’s public meeting in January and Hart’s in December, 2003, both men speculated that the town could probably lose the arbitration and be stuck with millions of dollars in awards costs. Carrel suggested up to $4 million.
Things do not seem to have gone that way, although the only way to be sure of this will be to check out the spreadsheet of accounts payable sometime down the road and see what the line item reads. Since that is a public document, the arbitrator could not stifle that process.
The other way the ruling might become public is if the award is tabled during the upcoming court case involving the town, the recreation centre’s architects, FSC, and the project engineers. Some of this will involve actions between TSL and FSC and Smith’s company might want to use parts of the award document in making its own case.
Meantime, it would be possible to infer from the satisfied looks on the faces of Everitt, and councillors Joann Van Nostrand, Wayne Potoroka and Bill Holmes, that the exercise has turned out much less badly than the worst case predicted by the government and its agent.
It will, Everitt said, be necessary to rework the 2004 budget and rewrite some of the long term financial plan in order to deal with the repercussions of the ruling, since many deep cuts had been made to Dawson’s spending in order to preserve $1.2 million in order to deal with a possible award.
“The main thing,” commented chamber of council president Martin Gehrig, who was at this meeting, “is that the award is less than $1.3 million.”
“Substantially,” Everitt replied, but would not say more.
In the meantime, the town will be putting forward an argument for recovery of costs in the hearing process, as well as proceeding with legal steps to rectify the faulty roof and other deficiencies in the recreation centre, as well as problems in both the swimming pool and the renovated town hall/fire department building, which were handled by the same architectural firm.
With a positive, or less damaging, outcome to the arbitration, is there still a need for the kind of stringent supervisory oversight that the town has seen since October 2003 under André Carrel? His most recent contract extension (the agreement for payment) expired at the end of February, though the order-in-council which appointed him is still in force.
Council is somewhat divided over that issue. In the past, under Ken Hodgins, the first supervisor, council was happy with his advice and monitoring, as well as the potential for him to be a direct link to the Community Services minister. A similar role would be welcome, in Everitt’s view.
Councillor Wayne Potoroka, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with the word “supervisor”, having seen, he said, how much damage a heavy-handed interpretation of that role can do. He’d be happy to see someone appointed as a municipal advisor.
Carrel had said in January that if the award fell within the amount the council had budgeted for it, that it would not need a supervisor to tell it how to spend any surplus. It remains to be seen how YTG will respond to this situation, but the original intention was to have someone in that role until the plan was fully enacted in the year 2007, which will actually fall outside the mandate of this council and possibly of the Yukon Party government itself.
Everitt will be briefing Minister Glen Hart, who must also swear to keep the results secret, even from his cabinet colleagues, on March 19. Normally, Hart would have no right to the information, but since Dawson is under a supervisor’s oversight at the moment, the arbitrator allowed this exception.
A Groomed Trail Has Made a Big Difference
by Dan Davidson
As the third troop of snowmobilers got ready to leave Tok, Alaska, for the final weekend of the Trek Over the Top one thing they could be pretty sure of was that the trail was in good shape. The weather has been variable this year, and group one may have had the nicest travelling, while group two certainly would have found last Sunday’s (March 7) Arctic winds a challenge. But the trail has been in good shape, thanks to the new groomer owned and operated by the Dawson Snow Trails Association.
Eric Zalitis and Laurie McCrory agree that this machine has made a real difference in the trip for their clients.
“The groomer was up on the highway,” Eric said. “They did the highway for us and 60 Mile Road. The Americans always groom to the border. So there was just a 17 mile stretch that was ungroomed.
“It made a huge impact on their attitudes when they arrived here.”
A lot of years the riders have been exhausted after the trip and just wanted to soak in a tub and go to bed.
“They weren’t banged up and they weren’t tired. They got here a lot happier.” As a result they were out doing the town and sitting in Gerties that night. From a business point of view, the more time the Trekkers are in the stores the better.
As the Trek finishes its eleventh year, the couple have recognized that quite a bit of their annual business is repeat travellers, and that these folks are not as interested in an extreme adventure tour as they might have been when they started.
The Trek actually ran a week later this year due to a change in the times for the Yukon Quest, but that worked out well as the weather had warmed up considerably. Last year the first and final Treks travelled at -40°C.
One of Zalitis early morning activities the first day in Dawson is a ride up to the top of the Midnight Dome. This year a record number of riders, 80 in all, took part in this during the first trek.
“That’s a record,” he says. “They were all happy so they just wanted to go for a ride.”
The groomer has done more than benefit the Trek. During the Yukon Quest it was used to make a landing strip for planes on the Yukon River, and it has already been used on the Moose Mountain Ski Hill as well as other trails around the town.
Activities for the Trekkers in included weekends at Gerties, with a floor show and gambling, performances by the Whitehorse based Snowshoe Shufflers, a poker run, the use of the Top of the World Curling Club and lots of skidooing around the Dawson area.
One of the favorite events at Gerties was the brainchild of casino employee and snowmobile enthusiast Bill Holmes. The Snowmobile Olympics is a women’s event at Gerties in which contestants have to change a belt on each of the most common makes of snow machines.
The popularity of the groomer was shown in the auction the Dawson Snow Trials Association held to raise money to help pay off the cost of the machine, which was largely financed through a CDF grant.
Zalitis says it’s not just Alaskans coming over, that there were seven or eight states represented from the lower forty-eight as well.
“One fellow is from Alaska and he has three sons. He’s had four wives and two of his sons had never met before. This was their big reunion trip. They came from New Mexico and Washington State to be with the other son and the father. Next year his daughter will be 19 and she’s coming over.”
It’s turning out that the Trek is multi-generational experience. Families bring their adult children and then the kids invite their friends and it grows.
“This time we had a guy who’s been on all 11,” Laurie said
The first trip was the biggest this year. There were 232 registered and 212 that actually made the trip after scratches. There were 199 registered for the second run and 160 for the third. Registration for the third run has always been lower, McCrory said, because people figure the trail will be pretty beaten up by then.
“Once we can promote that we have a groomed trail on this side that will change hopefully.”
As it is the trekkers have filled up two hotels and several bed and breakfast places at a time of the year when things are slow.
The couple are finding the pace of the Trek much easier this year now that they live in Dawson. Zalitis has recently retired from the RCMP and they have moved to Dawson. He was posted here when he started the event with former fire chief Pat Cayen, and has continued to run it from Whitehorse and Carmacks since then. McCrory says its wonderful to home to her own bed each night, even though she does miss the hotel housekeeping service.
The couple have put their organizational talents to use in other ways as well since returning, having been hired to coordinate this year’s Gold Show for the Chamber of Commerce.
Dawson’s Town Manager Headed For Cultis Lake
by Dan Davidson
Scott Coulson and his family are pulling up stakes and heading for the lower B.C. mainland.
Dawson’s town manager has been hired at Cultis Lake, a small community near Chilliwack.
“It’s a community of 1,000 people just within a park boundary. I’m going to be the park manager and (the town’s) CAO.
“It’s a federal park that gets about a million visitors a year. It’s a pretty spectacular place.”
The job will, he thinks, be somewhat less stressful than the last three years in Dawson, and it will take his wife and two children closer to other family members.
Dawson’s current chief administrative officer gave his notice on Wednesday, the day after town council was able to reveal that it had not lost its arbitration case with TSL contracting, thus not triggering the dissolution of the council which had been threatened by the YTG since last fall.
Mayor Glen Everitt was unable to say much without the consent of Don Smith, the head of TSL, but Coulson was less guarded on the subject when discussing his departure on Thursday.
“It’s a good news story,” he said, “and I really believe that it’s going to get better and better. With the arbitration news out, it’s turning around now.”
Nevertheless, the last few months of strain have been tough, and it was the arrival of government appointed supervisor André Carrel on the scene that made Coulson first think about leaving.
He says that he knew things were going to be a little tense when he took the job, but the level of supervision under the first municipal supervisor, Ken Hodgins, was no strain at all. Two and half years of monitoring and helpful suggestions didn’t feel like interference. That all changed when Hodgins was fired in October 2003 and replaced by Carrel, who, as recently as last week, attempted to micromanage council decisions on both its waste hauling and snow removal contracts.
“He was going beyond his mandate,” Coulson said. When it became clear to him that Carrel was eager to sack the council and gut the town’s administrative offices he and his wife decided it was time to start looking at their options.
Carrel had suggested in the last fall’s testy negotiations that Coulson’s hours should be trimmed to half-time. Coulson did acquiesce to the same cuts in travel allowance benefits that the Carrel Report placed on all other staff members, even though he did not have to under the terms of his contract. At the time, he said he couldn’t force others to take that hit without taking it himself.
“We’re sad to leave. It’s been our hardest decision yet, throughout my whole career.”
Coulson will be on board until April 15. Working on behalf of the town, he has already contacted a “headhunter” (an executive search agent) to help council find a replacement.
“It’s a little odd,” he conceded, “but I just wanted to make sure that they got going on it quick.”
On the future of Dawson, he is quite positive.
“I think the tides have turned here. I really believe that it’s going to get better and better.”
This makes him feel better about planning to leave because he doesn’t want anyone to think that he’s bailing out on a losing situation. He see this departure as going out on a high note.
“We actually flipped on this three or four times, and what helped me make up my mind is the arbitration. It’s not like anyone could say I was leaving because of that. It was never meant to be seen that way.”
Another thing that makes him feel better about going is that Carrel’s remuneration contract with YTG has not been renewed and there are strong indications that he will soon be off the Dawson file completely.
Councillor Bill Holmes said that Coulson informed him of his decision personally on Wednesday.
“We certainly have no problems with Scott,” Holmes said. “I’m sorry to see him go.”
Holmes said Dawson’s CAO has given the town his all during his tenure and has been a big part of the successes which were achieved in the arbitration and in many other matters.
Rec Centre Roof Threatens to Collapse
by Dan Davidson
Dawson’s City’s recreation centre has been shut down with the discovery that the roof support beams are twisting and deformed, apparently under the weight of the snow load.
The problem was discovered about mid-week during an evening’s curling, when participants noticed irregularities in the ceiling of the rink. Upon examination the next day the curling rink was closed, and this was extended to the entire structure on Friday, after the building inspector examined it.
City manager Scott Coulson confirmed that the town has been concerned about the roof structure since it took possession of the building. Last year’s experience was that it leaked, which it should not have been doing.
Now the concern is that the roof may not have been designed and built strongly enough to take Dawson’s snow load.
“I thought for sure it would have been designed to withstand snow,” Coulson said on Saturday, “but it’s pretty scary when you look at them – the beams are all just twisting. It’s very serious.”
The recreation department offices will have to be relocated.
“We have to get the snow off, but we need to have an engineer look at it to see if we can get the people up there to get the snow off.”
Roof issues were on the table during the recent arbitration hearings and will be again during the upcoming court case between the town and FSC, the engineering firm which designed the building.
Coulson doesn’t know if the building can be made safe before next winter.
“Obviously we don’t have a million dollars to change the roof, which is what it cost according to one estimate.”
Supervisor Freezes Dawson’s Accounts
by Dan Davidson
YTG Supervisor Andre Carrel has frozen Dawson City’s bank accounts as of Friday, March 19.
“He has contacted the banks,” said city manager Scott Coulson, “and told them not to let any cheques go through without his signature on them.”
Councillor Joanne Van Nostrand was blunt in her response on Saturday afternoon.
“I think it’s a significant over reaction … in response to council not following his direction on the garbage contract.”
Council put out a Request for Proposals in January to generate options for improving garbage collection service in the town. The first level of response, needed in case anything else was too expensive, was to maintain the current level of service, which Mayor Glen Everitt said was not actually a plan council wanted to implement.
There have been numerous complaints and requests from the business sector and the residential sector about the current level of service, Everitt said on Friday. The RFP was about moving to a higher level of service, he said, for dealing with recyclables and cleaning up some of the high traffic areas in the town.
In addition, the town had done a survey of usage to find out who the heaviest users of the system were. It turned out that restaurants generate the most refuse, so their rates were to be increased, along with some other increases that have been discussed with the members of the Chamber of Commerce.
Dealing with these items was the second phase of the proposals.
One of the three proponents dropped out on the first level. The bid by Edgar Blattler had the lowest price at that level. On the next level, however, the lowest bids came from the incumbent contractor, Callison Waste Management, which actually submitted two plans with bids lower than his competition.
The contract was let on that basis. Supervisor Carrel, who had not been in communication with Dawson for about three weeks at that point, contacted city offices a few days later to tell them to rescind the award and give the contract to Blattler.
Carrel has referred to council’s choice as a “Cadillac” plan which exceeds the restrictions of the financial plan, even though the budget line for waste management remains the same. He has complained about raising rates for businesses, even though president of the Chamber of Commerce endorsed the plan on March 16.
“I’m extremely comfortable (with the contract),” Van Nostrand said. “I think we’re within the guidelines of the financial plan.
“I think we went through it very thoroughly and made the decision – a very good decision.”
Van Nostrand said that Carrel was asked if he wanted to look at the details of the Request for Proposals plan that was published in the local paper on January 13.
“He stated that he wasn’t interested in the details.”
As for how the town is to operate if Carrel must approve all expenses, Van Nostrand doesn’t know how this is to work.
“We haven’t had an opportunity to find out any of the details or what the procedure is going to be,” she said.
DAWSON OLD-TIMERS TAKE SILVER IN JUNEAU HOCKEY TOURNAMENT
On the weekend of Feb.27 players, wives and fans flew by charter to Juneau to participate in the second annual Rain Forest Classic Old-timer Hockey Tournament. Eight teams, including teams from Fairbanks, Whitehorse, Mt Lorne, Anchorage, Juneau and SE Alaska took part in play at the newly built Treadwell Arena. Dawson went unbeaten in the round-robin defeating Fairbanks, Whitehorse and Anchorage. In the Sunday morning gold medal game, Dawson City came up against the home-town favorites, the Juneau All-Stars and lost an exciting game 3-1. All had a great time, with lots of contacts made, lots of sea-food eaten, and lots of fun. Plans are already being made to return next year.
The Dawson City Old-timers would like to thank the people who helped out in our tournament on the weekend of Feb.21. A big thanks to Rick Reimer and Chuck Barber who made repairs to the Zamboni when our backs were against the wall. Thanks as well to Rob Billings for keeping the ice in such great shape!
Dawson City Old-timer Hockey
Community Support High for Minor Hockey
For the past two weeks Minor Hockey Players have been canvassing the community for pledge money towards a Skate-A-Thon. Saturday, March 13th was the start of a very busy day for players and parents.
Rod Dewell organized a mass start and a total of 37 skaters took to the ice between 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Twenty nine of the skaters came off the ice very red-faced but on a rush, as they had completed the 200 laps. When the skaters finished their laps they were given a token for a free hot dog, and drink courtesy of Minor Hockey. Each skater received a special “200 Lap Club Card” and all went home with a gift from the door prize draws.
Special prizes were given out for the following:
1. Grand Prize – Team Canada Jersey Most Individual Money Collected Jasmine Kaytor
2. First Skater to Complete 200 Laps- Hockey Lamp – Ted Hunter
3. Most Determined Skaters Vancouver Canucks Jersey / Picture fames & Hockey Light Switch Avery Bramadant & Makitlia Blanchard
4. Youngest Skater T-Shirt Caleb Verdonk 4 years of age
5. Oldest Skater Austin Taylor
There was a tie for the most family members the Keaton and Kaytor families had 3 minor hockey players skating.
Many thanks to the parents and volunteers who counted laps for the skaters and supplied the skaters with drinks and encouragement.
While the skaters were busy working hard on the ice the process of reviewing pledge sheets and tallying money began. It became evident that community members gave generously to this event. A Fundraising Financial Statement has been prepared and is posted on the Arena bulletin boards. For those community members who may have pledges to be paid a donation notice was sent.
The players and parents greatly appreciate the support given.
A special note of thanks for the donations that were received:
Adam Morrison Team Canada Jersey
City of Dawson Recreation Centre T-Shirt five 10 day skate passes
Northern Metallic 3 Pair orange reflector gloves
Aurora Bookkeeping Free Printing for the 200 Lap Club Cards
Margaret VanDusen Metallic Pen
Callison Waste Management Donation for Wolf Pack Ice Time and Skate a Thon
To finish off the day a Pot Luck Supper and Awards presentation was held at the YOOP Hall. A thank you is extended to Dawson Bonanza Esso and Rod Dewell for arranging medals and certificates through the Esso Canada Hockey Promotional Program. Medal categories were:
Most Dedicated, Most Sportmanlike, Most Improved. As many of the Coaches were playing in their own league playoffs, Chris Johnson attended and presented awards to the players.
As a thank you to the coaches, certificates and a small gift were arranged. On behalf of the players and parents, Chief Darren Taylor presented Chris with his certificate. In addition two parents were recognized for their volunteering on the ice during the season. Chief Taylor presented certificates to Torrie Hunter and Robert Keaton for being available to strap on the skates and help.
Dawson Minor Hockey received a huge boost when our community was selected for the Donated Hockey Equipment Program. Thank you to the City of Dawson for submitting the proposal. This resulted in giving additional children the opportunity to try the sport. It was a tremendous success!
Dawson Minor Hockey had 53 children registered in the program this year. The turn out for practices and games remained high. Must of this was due to the excellent volunteer coaches who stepped forward to give of their time and skills.
Thanks and appreciation is extended to:
We would like to send a special note of thanks to Robert Billings, and the Rec Centre Staff for their support and excellent maintenance of the ice. Your ability to problem solve and keep the ice surface useable for the longest period of time is greatly appreciated.
Thanks to volunteers such as Rod Dewell who has been tending to the finances and filing all needed registration forms Minor Hockey is again a solid program in Dawson. We look forward to continued growth.
WHAT IS THE VISIONARY FUTURE FOR THE YUKON?
By Bridget Amos
The Yukon Governments decision to build a bridge has still not been sufficiently justified. The lack of forthcoming information leaves the public to guess at why the bridge is a good investment. Some of the facts that this campaign has discovered and the questions yet to be answered will be addressed in this article.
The cost of operating the George Black Ferry from 1997-2002 are: 1997/98=$777,544 1998/99=$701,231 1999/00=$779,136 2000/01=$723,473 2001/02=$811,130. The majority of this money stays here in the local economy. Within the last two years they have installed new engines for the ferry. With regular maintenance ferries can operate indefinitely. The Marine Inspector was able to say that the George Black Ferry, which runs for six months a year, could stay operating for another 50 years or so.
The cost of creating and maintaining the Ice Bridge is $16,000 – $20,000 per year.
The above costs are a concern to the government. It seems to be that the costs would be comparable, between a bridge and the ferry, in approximately 30 years. If the bridge construction cost over-runs the estimated $25,000,000 that figure changes. The rumour is that the government will borrow, at least partially, to fund its budget. This would also quickly add to the cost of a new bridge.
Tourism numbers peaked in 1998 during the Klondike Gold Rush Centennials. Signatures counted at the Visitor Reception Centre in Dawson from 1997 are the following: 1997=26,648 1998=32,938 1999=26,259 2000=26,115 2001=24,752 2002=28,058 2003=29,710. In1992 the department of tourism along with different private corporations promoted the Yukon extensively both in Canada and in the US. This was called “A Decade of Anniversaries” and was meant to last until 2002. One may assume that with more funding for projects such as “A Decade of Anniversaries” tourism may increase again. However, it has been said that the building of a bridge will be the force for increasing tourism. If so, how?
It has been said that a bridge will contribute to the social, economic and civil welfare of the Yukon by creating a larger international trade route to the Northern Communities. Firstly, there are no Yukon communities on this route and Northern Alaskan Communities are better and more directly accessed by the Alaska Highway. Secondly, the Yukon government has not committed to or begun environmental assessment investigations into maintaining the Top of the World Highway throughout the winter. Thus, the period of supposed benefit would be very limited with the cost of the bridge possibly exceeding any benefit. The loss of 16 ferry worker jobs and associated other contracts such as the fuel contract will have a negative economic effect and also needs to be taken into consideration.
It has been stated that a bridge might help make hardrock mining and other exploration near the Top of the World Highway economically feasible. If valuable discoveries are made in this area, it is likely production would commence, regardless of access. Throughout Canada it has been proven that roads tend to follow mines, not vice versa. Gas and oil exploration, in the Inuvik area, is accessed by the ferries and ice bridges on the Dempster Highway. Mines, such as the Brewery Creek operation are serviced by roads and bridges built after their production has proven viable.
A sewage treatment plant must be operational by September 1, 2004, in compliance with the order of Chief Territorial Judge Heino Lilles or the municipality will be facing fines and possible legal action. There is currently still no funding for this project. The cost estimates are currently running at approx. $19,000,000.
Two fuel suppliers in Dawson have stated that the ferry wait has no affect on fuel prices. The fuel prices in Dawson City do not go down due to more direct accessibility to Alaska in the summertime. Regular vehicle gasoline cannot come from Alaska due to environmental standards.
The bridge is being built, we are told, for the visionary future, for the economy and for Yukon/Alaskan relations. We challenge our government to go beyond these statements, to go beyond their political agenda and to prove to the Yukon public that they can account for their decision.
If you have any comments please go to www.abridgetonowhere.com and enter the discussion forum.
Dawson Proves “Hot” for H’sao’s Winter Tour
by Dan Davidson
The world music group H’sao played at the Oddfellows’ Hall on March 4, bringing its high energy performance to the Klondike as part of its Yukon tour. The six member band from Montreal originated in Chad, where members of two families got together six years ago. Caleb (guitar and vocals), Israel (keyboards and vocals), Mossbass (bass and vocals) and Taoum (dance and vocals) are of the Rimtobaye family and were inspired to begin performing by their father, an evangelical pastor.
Teamed with Charles and Service Ledjebgue, who sing and play percussion, they became H’sao in 1995, and relocated to Canada in 2001.
Their music is a blend of gospel, soul, R&B and traditional Chadian sacred songs and dance rhythms. There are 120 different ethnic groups in Chad, so there’s a lot of material to draw from.
The members of the group frequently apologised for their limited use of English, though they were clever enough to make a joke of it. Their song lyrics were in their native Chadian dialect as well as French and Arabic.
Caleb’s guitar work is rooted in that distinctive fast fingering technique that is so often heard in African pop music, but he shows other styles as well. Keyboardest Israel produces both piano and organ sounds, but his most distinctive contribution is a breathy, wind instrument that had audience members looking for the flute and not finding it. Mossbass plays the less common five string bass guitar and makes good use of it in setting the pace for a lot of the group’s tunes. The Ledjebgue brothers contribute percussion on both African and regular drums, while Taoum Rimtobaye, in several costume changes, punctuated a lot of the numbers with an energetic dance break where one might have expected an instrumental.
One of the highlights of the evening was a show stopping number in which everyone grabbed a set of drums and traded riffs and rhythms for an extended set.
Speaking of dancing, H’sao had the packed Dawson audience up on its feet for most of the two hour show.
H’sao is not just about fun and games. The group also sings about the need for AIDS education in Chad, where the prevailing wisdom among so many youth is that HIV is just a scare tactic being used to discourage sex amongst the young. Such beliefs contribute to the exponential spread of AIDS all over the continent.
H’sao’s members are also vocal about proclaiming their Christianity, lest anyone would think that you can’t be a believer and still have fun. Some of their more solemn sounding “a capella” numbers come from this part of their lives, which is where their music began.
As for their reaction to Dawson, the band members concluded that, in spite of the winter cold, “Dawson is hot.”
Dawson Youth are Write Up North Winners
by Dan Davidson
As part of a continuing effort to promote literacy in Dawson City, several organizations got together in mid March for hold an evening devoted to learning. Lingo Bingo night was held at the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Community Hall on March 11 as a joint effort of the first nation’s educational branch, the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon and Yukon Learn.
LDAY workers had set up a mirror writing experiment which demonstrated how a learning impaired individual might have problems with perceptual tasks.
Several high school students were on hand to get guests to try their hands at science experiment involving water tension and photography.
Sophia Marnik read a children’s’ story for the younger set.
And, of course, there was food – a meal and lots of goodies.
In addition to all of this Steven Mead of Yukon Learn took advantage of the evening to announce that three Dawson writers had been winners in that organization’s “Write Up North” contest, which closed in January.
Teacher Joann Vriend took first prize in the adult category, from among the more than 50 entrants.
In the age 12-17 category Mary Fraughton took second place for her poetry contribution, “An Ode to the Toad”, while Elizabeth captured first place for her short story about a girl enjoying a winter day with her dogs.
Both girls read their work to the audience.
“As the summer goes by we’re hoping to produce an anthology of winners with some artwork by local artists,” Mead said.
“The judges were impressed by the creativity of all the entries.”
The evening closed with a rousing game of Lingo Bingo, which is just about what it sounds, a Bingo game with words in play instead of numbers.
Uffish Thoughts: Dawsonites Suffer from Current Events Whiplash
by Dan Davidson
A person could have gotten a serious case of whiplash trying to keep up with all the developments in Dawson City last week. In fact, I’m about to write a column with conclusions which may be completely overtaken by events by the time it sees the news stand, but it’s an exercise in putting events in context, so most of it should still be relevant by Tuesday when our local paper will appear in print.
By this time no one can have forgotten that Dawson City is about $4.2 million in debt. This is a number which, according to YTG appointed Supervisor André Carrel’s interview in the Trail Times on January 12, 2004, is 40 percent over the legal limit for municipal borrowing.
He neglected to mention that Dawson was prodded and permitted to exceed that limit by the territorial government of the day, but that often seems to get lost in the discussion.
In that same interview Carrel, who collected at least $40,000 ($800 a day, or $10,000 a month from October 3, 2003) for the initial four months work he put into helping the town sort out its financial future, took strong issue with the idea that Dawson would pay a full time mayor $50,000 a year, so it should come as no surprise that one of the outcomes of his report, delivered here on January 23, is that Mayor Glen Everitt is now half-time.
What did come as a surprise to nearly everyone was to discover in late February that Carrel was still on the job with an extended contract. He had announced at the meeting that his task was done and his contract was over at the end of January.
His contract and his appointment by order-in-council were two different things, of course, but when he told the crowd at the YOOP hall that he was holding the meeting when he was because his contract only ran until the end of January and he had to get his report finished, people could be pardoned for drawing the obvious conclusion.
Also during January the city issued a “Request for Proposals” (Sun, January 13, 2004) in which it stipulated that it wanted to see a variety of options for making changes to the way in which garbage is collected and disposed of in the town. It might or might not pick a contractor from that set of “sealed proposals” the ad said.
Mr. Carrel was aware of this process and said nothing about it until a month later. In January he said he was not interested in the picky details of running the town. His mandate was to make sure that $1.35 million could be accessed in case of a poor outcome in the town’s arbitration hearings with TSL Contracting. His actual demand was that $1.2 million be set aside for this process, but his report indicated that any award of damages from the city in excess of $1.3 million would be enough to trigger his recommendation that the council be replaced by a trustee.
When asked about this later on, Community Services Minister Glen Hart agreed that a bad ruling by the arbitrator against Dawson would probably be the trigger for that sort of a step. So when we learned early last week that the arbitrator’s report was much less that the worst-case $4 million that both Hart and Carrel had hypothesised, less even than the $1.35 million trigger, we assumed, as did every reporter working on the file, that this meant Dawson was out of the woods as far as trusteeships were concerned
Carrel had filed his report and returned to Rossland, where he runs his consulting firm, assists in the running of several small towns, and seems to discuss Dawson’s situation freely at their meetings, as he did in Montrose in early October , shortly after he was hired, but before he received his letter of instruction (Rossland Record, October 9, 2003).
Despite saying repeatedly that he was not interested in any of the details of the administration of the financial plan, so long as nothing that council did coloured outside the lines that had been drawn in that document, Carrel was suddenly on the fax machine and e-mail in late February, demanding that council rescind a waste hauling contract award that had come out of the proposal process, an award which was within budget and featured a commercial fee schedule and planning process which have been endorsed by the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce. (See the back page of this paper for the city’s rationale and fee schedule, a document which was prepared early in the week, before the situation evolved.)
After two weeks of back and forth bickering, Carrel issued an ultimatum late in the second week of March, and is said to have recommended dissolution of the council on Monday, March 15. The YTG cabinet communications office will not confirm this, but it was what Mayor Everitt was told on March 19 while in Whitehorse.
This all came as quite a shock, since the word out of the capital over the previous two weeks had been that Carrel was being replaced as supervisor. Council had been given oral assurances of everything but the name of the replacement, who had already accepted the appointment, it was said. Everitt was to have received confirmation of this on Friday, the same day that he met with Hart to share the results of the arbitration award in a closed meeting.
Instead, as a kind of afterthought to the main meeting, Everitt was told that Carrel was still on the case. About a half-hour later, after Everitt had left the meeting, the city office received word that its bank accounts were frozen and all expenditures would have to be cleared with Carrel. Everitt wasn’t told.
This is almost, but not quite, a trusteeship, something that was only supposed to happen if the arbitrator’s award was bad, which it wasn’t. Is it any wonder that heads are spinning here this week?