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WHITEHORSE – On March 21, the Minister of Community Services told the Legislature that the government had budgeted $21 million for the Dawson Rec Centre.
However, these numbers appear to be unreliable and contradict other information from the Minister and the project team, which includes representatives from the territorial government.
According to a February 22, 2022, letter from the Community Services Minister the Liberals are projecting the new Dawson City Recreation Centre to cost as much as $81.2 million.
Last July, the project team – which includes representatives from the territorial government - recommended that the government go forward with a new $54 million facility to be built at the bottom of the Dome Road.
These numbers, which contradict the numbers provided by the Minister in the Legislature, once again raise the question why the Liberals frequently provide incorrect and unreliable information to the public.
“While the territorial government has submitted a federal funding application, the application falls well short of what is apparently needed to construct this important facility,” said Highways and Public Works Critic Stacey Hassard. “We hope that the Liberals stop being so unreliable when it comes to budgeting and that they are soon able to provide accurate information as to what the path forward and the costs are for this facility so that residents of Dawson can enjoy a new recreation facility.”
When asked to confirm the $81.2 million cost, and how the government would come up with the shortfall, the Minister was not able to provide any concrete answers. In addition, he was unable to provide any update on the status of the federal application.
“What is concerning is the Minister says there is money in the budget for this project,” Hassard added. “However, the 2022-2023 five-year capital concept released on March 3 allocates only $18.2 to $25.5 million over the next five years – with only up to $500,000 for this fiscal year. This is over $30 million short of the estimate provided by the project team.”
Without any clear federal funding in place and massive budget discrepancies, the Minister claims the project is still scheduled to begin this year.
This fast and loose approach to infrastructure projects concerns Yukoners who have already seen the Whistle Bend School, the Old Crow Health Centre, the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport, and the Dempster Fibre Project all go significantly over budget. The contract for the Nisutlin Bridge replacement has also not been awarded, and the Highways and Public Works Minister indicated that bids have exceeded the projected budget.