Dawson City, Yukon Friday, May 3, 1996


This illustration is from the Hypercard version of the electronic book "Moose Hunting", produced in the Hän language by the Yukon Native Language Centre. The electronic book has eight illustrations by Chris Caldwell.

Feature Stories

Flood warnings in the Klondike Valley

by Dan Davidson
Sun staff

The Klondike area Emergency Measures Organization has determined that there is a risk of flooding in the Rock Creek and Henderson Corner areas, and, at a recent meeting, decided to use the Robert Service School as a means for getting that information to people in the area.

The school has sent home a notice advising parents that "If flooding occurs while your children are in school we will keep your children in town until you are able to come and get them." The letter also cautions parents to make arrangements for their children to have a place to stay if it becomes necessary and to advise the school of this.

Pat Cayen, the City of Dawson's representative on the EMO, confirms that there are two or three trouble spots between the Dempster Corner and Rock Creek.

This week there has been a backhoe out at Dempster Corner digging a trench in the ice to give the water a channel.

"Harry Campbell (Klondike Transport) is out there with his crew," said Cayen on April 16, "and at the point that I was talking to Harry today they were fifteen feet into the ice and still hadn't hit water."

Cayen says that Dawson, with its 9 metre dyke and current eater levels of 6 metres, has a smaller concern at the present time.

"We're okay, we think, but we don't know."

The thickness at the ice bridge is double that of last year, bearing in mind that last year was abnormally thin. Down river Dog Island it is normally 70 cm and this year it is 140. The area in front of the town is not especially thick, but then it is never that area that has caused floods in Dawson; it's the back flow from blockages downstream.

"We believe our dyke will be challenged -- or tested -- this year. Our only hope at this point is that the weather continues...warm during the day and cooling off at night so that the ice can rot away."

In the event of a crisis, Cayen is satisfied that every responsible agency in the community is already primed to respond.

There are many differences in Dawson since 1979, when it last flooded in town. Most buildings are raised well above street level. The streets themselves are at a higher grade. There is a network of storm drains now that did not exist then, so any flooding should drain faster. On the other hand, really heavy ice could tear off the gates intended to block water from coming in those drains and flood the town from within.

"What will happen (if the dyke fails) is that we'll lose the water very rapidly after we breach the dyke and the storm drains start working."

One of the innovations in EMO planning this year is an improvement in communications. The city has been provided with two "M-sat" units, a type of satellite cellular telephone system.

"One from the RCMP is portable, basically in a brief case. The other one is from YTG EMO and it's a mobile, It's a small satellite dish with a cellular telephone attached to it and you have to strap the dish on to a tree or the side of building or whatever. So as long as we don't lose the satellite we should be able to maintain some kind of communication with the outside. We shouldn't lose everything this time."

That means there are now five different levels of communication out of Dawson.

No one is predicting just when things will break up. Cayen, who jokingly says he has been looking for hints before buying his ice pool tickets, say that none of the experts are willing to make any predictions.

It does seem that it's much more likely this year to be what old timers call a "spectacular" event. Cayen admits that there's a part of him that hopes it will be. Most of the break-ups in his five years here have been fairly mundane and he's getting tired of hearing people brag about the old days.

"I really want to see that," he says and laughs. "I want to hear it and see it and I want the water to leave very comfortably without even challenging the dyke."

Most folks here would probably go for that.

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Nearly half of the Yukon's Parks Canada jobs could be gone

By Timothy Sawa
Sun staff

The Executive Director for the Pacific and Yukon Region of Parks Canada, Orest Kruhlack, says it's impossible to estimate how many Yukoners might be affected by the Canadian Government's proposal to replace 2000 of its Parks employees with private contracts.

But according to detailed documents obtained by the Yukon News, his department has made considerable progress in doing just that.

The documents, compiled by the Yukon District Business Unit under Krulak's direction, estimate that 46 per cent of Parks employees in the territory are in danger of losing their jobs to private contracts over the next three years.

Of the 118 currently employed in the Yukon's two national parks and various national historic sites -- whose combined salaries give the territory an annual injection of $3.5-million -- 56 might suddenly find themselves no longer an employee of Parks Canada.

Gone with the jobs -- which will be replaced by the lowest bidder in a contract bidding process -- are the high government wages, job security and benefits.

"It makes me very angry," says Robbi Van Rumpt, who is the District Tech Officer for Klondike National Historic Sites.

According to the documents, he will be spared on the first round of layoffs, but just narrowly. Next year, however, he's fair game.

"They're telling me, everything I've done for them over the last 24 years, isn't worth a hill of beans," Van Rumpt says, who is also the Yukon-B.C. Regional Vice-President for the national union that supports parks employees.

"What this country took 100 years to build, they're going to destroy in three or four years."

Recently, the federal government announced a $98-million slash in the Parks Canada budget to be implement over the next four years. The plan to contract out 1500-2000 of their employees' jobs is, according to Krulak, a "critical" step to coping with the cuts.

Affected in the first round of layoffs will be grounds and highway maintenance people, janitorial services, carpenters and camping and recreation employees. The second year, more people will be replaced, who managers feel could go, as well as those who want to go. And in the third year, whoever is left that can be replaced by a contract, will.

"The public will see no difference in what we provide," Krulak says in an interview from his Vancouver office. "That's a fundamental principle in this process. There's no reason for the Government of Canada to employ people to cut the grass across the country."

The hardest hit Yukon operations will be Kluane National Park and the Klondike National Historic Site.

Dawson, itself will lose 16 of 56 positions in the first year alone. For a town of less than 2000 people, the loss of 16 reliable jobs will not be easy to swallow, says Louise Ranger, a manager at KNHS and the local union president.

The employees do get first crack at submitting contract proposals for their own job, but Ranger says that hardly makes up for the 15 per cent cut in salary she will probably have to endure when her job is eventually replaced by a contract.

"And where's the accountability?" she says, wondering who will ensure that the "cheaper" contracted employees will perform their tasks with the same respect for cultural and historical integrity as their predecessors.

"It's going to be lost and replaced with whoever is the cheapest bidder," she adds bitterly, answering her own question. "It's all faulty thinking."

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Running taking off in Dawson -- ya ya!

By Timothy Sawa
Sun staff


Dawson runners on the dyke.   Photo by Jennifer Booth

The local running club is streaking ahead into the 1996 season with leaps and bounds.

In the past, their membership has peaked at about 30 members. But this year, Run Dawson's new chairperson, Roger Hanberg, expects to easily double that -- and just in case, he's printing 100 membership cards.

Also, they're adding a brand new race to kick off their summer line-up, and replacing their 5 and 10k Fun Run's during Discovery Days with a race that Hanberg can only describe has "hot."

"More people are actively walking and running this year than any other year," notes Dawson Recreation Director Peter Menzies. "As a runner myself, I find it pretty exciting."

The sudden interest in running, Menzies suggests, might be connected to an unusually cold winter that kept people cooped in their houses for six months.

Run Dawson's Hanberg says the extra time the club is taking to promote the sport for the upcoming season is surly having an impact.

"This time of year we're focusing on the couch potatoes," Hanberg says, in an early evening interview in his temporary office at the Youth Centre. "We want them off the couch and out exercising."

Theories aside, it's obvious this town has turned to running.

This month, Run Dawson restarted their weekly, Wednesday night Fun Run. Already, 20 to 30 runners and walkers are turning out each week for the 5km jaunt.

Last year, at this time, they'd be lucky to have a dozen.

"It's a great way to get started," adds Hanberg.

Also exciting for Dawson and Yukon runners are the races added to the local circuit.

Brand new this year, to kick of the season, is the Gold Poke 5k on the Victoria Day weekend. The club had hoped to add the race this year but, needed a sponsor.

Henry Gulch Placers came forward and offered the money.

"He's a miner that said 'what can I do to help,' " explains Hanberg. "He just wanted to put something back -- in a healthy way -- into the community." The 50km Gold Field Relay is, however, by far the most exciting addition to the summer race series.

The first annual edition of the race, which will replace the 5 and 10k runs usually held, is intended to celebrate the Discovery Centennial. Teams of five will run the August 17th relay along the new Ridge Road Trail, and finish on Discovery Claim.

Here they will cool off with a salmon BBQ and an awards ceremony and then party down with Canadian country music sensation Straight, Clean and Simple.

Hanberg expects the relay to eventually become as big as the Skagway Relay which draws 2000 runners annually.

"We've been talking about having a Gold Field Relay for 10 years now," he says. "And this will be it's birth."

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