You could taste the dust in the air in Carcross on July 29. The demolition of the old RCMP building spread thin particles throughout the tiny community.
The demo started July 27 with a roar and crash as an excavator tore through plywood, insulation, 2x4’s and drywall pulling the old detachment building apart. There was no fencing, signage or permits evident.
Locals, as locals will, complained. Wads of mouldy insulation blew across the main road as the Carcross winds picked up. Complaints mounted. Wire fencing went up, as well as some “keep away” signage.
Carcross’ transfer station balked at the onslaught of trucked debris, but once assured that there was no remaining asbestos in the building, and the tipping fees were paid, let the trucks back into the transfer station site. Using the local option costs the contractor less than trucking it to Whitehorse.
By Thursday it looked like the demolition had kicked into where it should have been when it started — water trucks were on site to keep down the dust, covered trucks for highway transport and hard hats and fencing all around.
The building that was torn down was small, and the new building is modest as well. According to the Yukon Environmental Socio-economic Assessment Board documents the new modular building will encompass an area of 372 sq. metres (or approximately 4,000 sq. ft). It states that the site will implement geothermal and photo-voltaic initiatives.
The total cost for the Carcross RCMP detachment project is $8.2 million. Costs are shared between the RCMP, Public Safety Canada’s First Nations Policing Program and the Government of Yukon.
Yukon’s Department of Justice was unable to provide the divisions of the costs between the three agencies by press time.
The RCMP engaged the local Carcross/Tagish First Nation, but did not contact the Local Area Advisory Council (LAC) for any pre-construction meetings, according to the LAC co-chairs.
Local RCMP reports on calls and activities indicate that Carcross is usually the busiest three-person detachment in the Yukon with an area that covers from Annie Lake Road to Jakes corner on the Alaska Highway and most of the highway to the American border near Skagway.
At the height of the busy tourism season in 2018, Carcross could have up to five times the local population (2,500 people) per day carried around in 25 large busloads of cruise ship passengers, small tourist busloads, plus bikers and hikers and boaters, creating a large seasonal population variation to cover in case of emergencies. Information on staffing numbers was not provided.
The construction of the new building is anticipated to take nine months and be finished in the summer of 2022.
Lawrie Crawford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Yukon News