Legal battle brews in Dawson City over historic building

Renovations to the historic CIBC building in Dawson City, Yukon, are in limbo.

The town has declared the building an eyesore and a nuisance, as well as being a hazard. Municipal officials want to do renovations, but there is a dispute as to who actually owns the building.

The CIBC leased the building from the town, but that lease ran out in 1999. Contractor Mike Palma bought the building from the CIBC for one dollar in the 1980s.

“The building is mine. I purchased the building outright from the bank, they tried to offer it to Parks Canada and they didn't want it. So finally I took it over and I fixed it, stabilized because it was almost collapsing so I fixed up the foundation,” said Palma.

Mayor Peter Jenkins wants to do repairs to the building. He said it belongs to the town ever since the lease ran out in 1999. He's anxious to board up windows and replace some of the tin siding before winter.

The city hired a contractor to do the work.

"It has been approximately 20 years since that lease has been transferred, the city has declared the site a nuisance and an eyesore and we set out, tendered out the contract to enhance the exterior and cover the windows with plywood painted grey and do some cosmetic work on the north side. That contractor got into a discussion with the individual who purports to own the building and he refused to complete that work and so the city is going to have to retender that work out," said Jenkins.

Unless the city can find another contractor to fix up the building, it will sit open to another harsh winter. The case goes to court next spring.

Hector Renaud, from the Dawson City Heritage Advisory Committee, said the building must be saved.

"It is what I call one of the top five in town, I know it has to be saved. I know there is a conflict in town of potentially who owns it and things of that nature, but without that building we lose a major impact in tourist attraction is Dawson," said Hector Renaud from the Dawson City Heritage Advisory Committee.

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