by Dan Davidson
In what acting mayor Denny Kobayashi has called a controversial move, Dawson city council has taken the initial steps towards modifying its 6 year old load connection charges to encourage commercial development. First reading was given to an amendment on October 21.
The move comes after Haine Wing, owner of the Midnight Sun Hotel, threatened to cancel a $750,000 expansion project when faced with a $45,000 connection service bill before turning on the taps in his proposed 32 suite development.
The load charge, which was put in place a couple of council terms back, was intended to prevent the cost of necessary expansions to the capacity of the water system being levied on those who had already paid their share in charges over the years. New drains on the system were to be charged at $400 per outlet, defined as every facet and toilet.
The proposed amendment would do several things to lessen that impact for all commercial developers over the next five years. First it would drop the load capacity charge for new hotel rooms, motel rooms, inns or guest rooms from $400 per outlet to $400 per guest room.
This rate would also be applied to staff housing units built during the next five years. Kobayashi pointed to the shortage of suitable staff accommodation and Dawson's annual summer housing crisis as proof of the need in this area.
Next, the entire amount of the load capacity charge will be amortized over five years at the applicable interest rate, with only one-fifth of the cost required up front. Before, amortization was only allowed after a $5000 down payment.
"There is five year window for this amendment," Kobayashi said. Anything shorter would be seen as a response to just the Wing project, and council feels the development problem is bigger than that.
"That's not our intent at all," Kobayashi said, though he admits the possible loss of the Wing expansion is an incentive to start thinking along these lines.
"Mr. Wing's development will result in additional tax revenues of approximately. $12,000 per year plus Water & Sewer charges of $5,000 per year. $17,000 yearly in taxes is more productive than a one-time charge of $45,000 by over $30,000. It's a better deal to collect $12,400 up front and increase the tax base."
Putting on his Klondike Visitors Association hat for a moment, he then noted that the KVA's projections on visitor spending here indicate that the extra guests alone would inject $350,000 into the community in the five year time period.
"We need to pro-actively have any business in town add guest rooms, or improve or add staff housing units. After all some of the staff housing is deplorable in Dawson, if available at all."
What about those who complain that the City isn't keeping the developmental playing field level? Well, the City's position is that it does have the right to change its bylaws, and this isn't the council that put in the original.
"Times change", said Kobayashi. "The economy and availability of rooms has changed, so we are proposing this change." Dawson's hotels were booked for 100% of their capacity during 80% of the summer season just concluded.
"Some of the people who are against it (the change) are people who have never paid these fees. The people who have paid them, we have an obligation to listen to them. The people who have never paid them should remain mum, particularly on this subject, I would think."
Holland-America, owner of the large Westmark complex here, is one major player that may have a lot to say. With two hotel additions and the construction of two large staff housing units, it has probably been the company most affected by the current bylaw.
Dawson city offices will be sending the Seattle based company copies of its proposed legislation and asking for its input.
"Before it goes to another reading, we're going to ask them to comment... What Holland-America says here and how they may want to make a presentation is, I suggest, going to have a large impact on the decision making process."
The big company isn't the only one, though. While the other major guest hotels in Dawson had their expansions before the load charge was implemented, the Front Street Hotel, a set of apartment suites on Second Ave., the Bunkhouse, and a number of other projects - eleven in all - have been affected.
"We expected controversy. That's why we made it really clear that we are in no way going to progress this bylaw quickly. Mr. Wing isn't in a hurry right now. We have some time. We need to flush out all of the arguments for and against. We need the time to look at the legal ramifications."
The city is also doing research on development charges in other communities. While other places may not have been so blunt as to tack a load charge on to their sewer and water installations, many towns do have development fees that accomplish the same ends.
"The other argument is the issue with our water license and concerns that here we are promoting expansion while we don't have a license in place and we are close to capacity on our water and sewer system. We don't have a chance here unless we have commercial developments paying commercial mill rates on some long-term basis.
"We've opened up new commercial land on Front Street and we have nobody building on it. We may be facing some kind of incentives to whoever to have buildings put in place."
This may be the biggest controversy to face a council whose term has been fairly calm.
Kobayashi agrees: "The only controversy that we seem to have is damn people quitting and leaving and electing new ones."
Girl Guides Report
On October 22, a surprise presentation was held at a Girl Guide meeting to honour a very special young lady.
Our local MLA, Peter Jenkins was on hand to present the Girl Guides Fortitude Award to Megan Gates who suffered a serious head injury in an automobile accident one year ago.
This award was sponsored by the Canadian Girl Guide Association who wanted to recognize Megan's courage and determination towards recovery after the accident.
A letter, from Marsha Ross, Chief Commissioner of the Girl guides of Canada, explained the award.
"I am pleased to inform you that the National Council of the Girl Guides of Canada - Guides du Canada has granted you the Fortitude Award.
"Megan, the courage, determination and faith you have shown since the motor vehicle accident you were involved in, have been a shining example to all around you. You never gave up! Your Brown Owl has informed us that you are back in school, taking part in most activities, and you have rejoined your Brownie Pack, where you participate fully. You are truly a remarkable girl. "I, personally, commend you for the fortitude you have shown. Megan, you fully deserve this award, and we give it to you with pride and pleasure."
After being presented the award, Megan responded by asking Bianca Beets to come forward. Megan stated that people often forgot that Bianca was also in the accident as she was uninjured. She went on to say that Bianca's love and support was instrumental in her recovery. Bianca also went to visit Megan in the hospital in Vancouver.
A beautifully decorated cake by Carol McLeod was served to the guests by the Girl Guides. Well done, Megan!
by Leanne MacKenzie
A celebration of the 3rd successful First Hunt and Family Week took place in the Robert Service School Gymnasium on the 17th of October.
An offering by Annie Henry started off a dinner of wild meat and an assortment of potluck dishes for a packed house.
Following the dinner, presentations were made by Angie Joseph and Debbie Nagano on behalf of the Tr'ondek Hwech'in First Nation to those people who had contributed to make the First Hunt a success.
Red sweatshirts emblazoned with Tr'ondek Hwech'in First Hunt were presented to the following groups and individuals:
Sponsors: Northern Metallic, MacKenzie Petroleum, Northern Superior, Bonanza Shell, and the Gas Shack.
Assistance: Tanya Taylor, Freda Roberts, Vince Fraser, Tori Hunter, David Hutton, Don Tutin, Eleanor VanBibber.
The Rangers: Mike Taylor, Bob Blanchard, Peter Nagano, Ian Fraser, John Mitchell.
Also honoured were Peggy Kormendy, for her patience and outstanding help for the last 3 years, and Julia Joseph, for her assistance and organization of the kitchen.
Last but not least the young hunters were recognized: R.J. Nagano, Carla Mathers, Austin Taylor, Daniel Fraser, Nicky Askin, Chris Roberts, Daniel Mason, Patience Purrington, Kyle Sprokkreeff, Adam Roberts, James Lily, Douglas Johnson, Andrew Nagano, O.J. Timms, Leon Sidney, Jason Johnson, Tyson Knutson, Mathew Morgan, Jody McLaren, Cody McLaren, Kyrie Nagano, Philip Johnson, Jocelyn Purrington, Karl Knutson, Jimmy Smarch, Vincent Chuddy and Seamus Power.
Many people from Dawson were welcomed as observers at the camp, where kids learn how to hunt, basic survival in the bush, the Han Language and Culture, and, of course, how to make a moose call.
Fun was had by all thanks to the Robert Service School and Dawson First Nation's efforts towards celebrating Family Week and the 3rd Annual First Hunt.
DAWSON CITY - The Percy DeWolfe Race Committee is pleased to announce the following details concerning our upcoming 1997 dog sled race.
RACE DATE/TIME: Thursday, March 20/97 - 10 a.m.
PURSE: $10,000 min. guaranted.
NO. OF DOGS: Max. - 9, Min. - 6
ENTRY FEES AND DEADLINES:
$250 (Cdn.), deadline Mar. 6/97
$300 (Cdn), Mar.7 to Mar.19/97
Full refund until race start.
ROUTE/LENGTH: Dawson City, YT to Eagle, AK return 210 miles.
LAYOVER: Minimum 6 hours in Eagle AK
DOG DROP: At Fortymile (50 miles into race) must pick up dog(s) on way back.
MUSHERS' MEETING: Wed. March 19/97 7 p.m. - Mandatory.
For more race information and a copy of the rules and regulations, please write to Box 133 Dawson City, Y.T. Y0B 1G0.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors for our 1997 race: The Downtown Hotel (Lead Sponsor), The City of Dawson, The Klondike Visitors Association, The Gas Shack, and M.T. Bellies.
by Dan Davidson
Chris Caldwell would have spent Saturday afternoon surrounded by friends and well-wishers but for two things. The first, and most important one is that her son is sick at home and she's had to make a video run out to the Klondike Highway to keep him occupied and check on his progress.
The second is that I've grabbed her for this interview. Chris loves to talk to people - that's where she gets a lot of the stories that she has turned into drawings - but she will also talk to my tape recorder, and I get a guided tour of the Northern Wonders display. Just one of the perks of the working journalist.
I'm selling my children," she says as we begin. "That's what it feels like. Because a lot of these things you want to hang on to for posterity, so to speak. But this is good, because it'll give the Yukon crowd, who started it all, an opportunity to have one of them on their walls."
While there is a fair selection of 1996 material, the show is a kind of retrospective of her years of work in the territory, and reflects a lot of the things she has turned her hand to. There's more than just wall art here. There are the original sketches for the 1994 Christmas card series, for instance. Who hasn't sent out some of those? Earlier originals sold to cover "artist's survival wages. These are the last ones that I swore I would hold on to."
There are the phantom images for the Shirley Jonas' book, Ghosts of the Klondike, stories of hauntings from Skagway to Dawson and beyond.
"These ones have kind of taken people by surprise, which is nice. I like to do that. These are things I was going to keep in my closet, but now that I'm moving my closet I have to lighten the load. These are also tales indigenous to the territory, so I think it's great to give people an opportunity to have one. Gives them something to talk about later, when they learn the story behind them."
"So now you're Chris Caldwell, the famous Alaskan artist?" I jest. There's just a moment's hesitation and she shoots back: "Alaska slash Yukon. I just can't be Canadian any more. I'll be back...without a doubt. This isn't a gone-for-good situation. This is a moving for business so that I can keep up with the demand, because there is a huge demand from the general public and they can't afford, generally, to buy my originals, which is another reason why the prices are really low. This is the last time.
"This is my extended family. Give them a chance to pick up something original for much less than they would have to pay on a commissioned piece. At the same time there's always that bonus that as soon as I step across the border, all of a sudden it triples in value."
Her voice goes all breathy and conspiratorial, "This is when Chris was a Canadian artist -- oooohhhh. All of a sudden, big bucks."
Among the recent work, of course, we find the familiar images from her own book, Alsek's ABC Adventure.
"These are the original panels that were done for the book. It's nice to see them here in full scale. The book really brings them down in size and you always lose a little bit of colour in the reproduction."
The rest of the material is vintage Caldwell stuff, some old, some new. Like a lot of her material, it repays more than one look. One couple admires "The Yukon Trip", which shows a musical ride of mounties all decked out for Terpsicorian glory. Suddenly the woman spots the two ground squirrels waiting with the trip wire, and the picture takes on a whole new meaning.
Chris has that effect on people, sort of like Norman Rockwell meets Mad magazine. She doesn't mind the comparison. She's told me both of these sources have been big influences on her work.
The show, on display at Northern Wonders until this Wednesday, contains $61,950.00 worth of artwork. Paintings, notwithstanding the metric system, seem still to be measured in inches. These 31 items run from 8" x 10" b& w drawings ($425 each) to 20" x 30" full colour paintings ($3,500). Owner Donna Kary is pleased with the turnout at the viewing day.
"It's been very very busy. People have been coming in from the hallway." Indeed, I'm there about an hour and there's a steady flow of anything from half a dozen to a dozen changing faces at any one time, some signing the guest book, some putting down reserve offers on the material.
"The serious ones take a lot more time," Kary says. "They like the layout because each piece is isolated and works by itself. They're just very, very pleased with the amount of work on view."
The newest Caldwell product is also on display: two styles of coffee mugs with four different illustrations on them. These are prototypes of a line that will be selling in both Alaska and the Yukon. She says it was actually the mug project that started prospects warming up in Alaska.
"As usual, everybody says 'Why didn't you do coffee cups before?'" she says and shrugs a "what the Hell, I just can't win" shrug. Then sher veers off to say hello to another admirer. Prospects for this sale, and for the future, look bright.
by Dan Davidson
Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge Adventures: The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Gladstone Publishing 60 pages, $15.35
Don Rosa, by all accounts the heir apparent to the mantle of Duckman Carl Barks, has assembled a series of 12 stories highlighting the rise and rise (with a few bumps along the way) of the world's richest duck. Continuity has never been a big thing in stories about Duckburg's first citizen, but Rosa decided to explain just how he got to be the way he is.
The origins of Scrooge are somewhere in Scotland, of course, but most Yukoners should know that the wily fellow took his first million out of the Klondike during the Goldrush and quickly converted it into his first billion.
Volume two of the "The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck" has that adventure as its cover story. There are three tales in this oversized anthology comic. "Dreamtime Duck of the Never-Never", "King of the Klondike" and "The Billionaire of Dismal Downs". The middle story is the biggest of the three; Rosa himself calls it the climax of his saga.
Good history? No. But lots of fun.
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