Parks Canada to demolish old buildings in Yukon's Kluane National Park

To some, they're "perfectly good" heritage buildings, but to Parks Canada, they're rotten beyond repair. 

Parks Canada is planning to demolish 14 derelict buildings in Yukon's Kluane National Park and Reserve, near Haines Junction. They're located on what was once a federal government farming project.

"Having deteriorated over time, these buildings are in poor condition and beyond reasonable repair," said Parks Canada spokesperson Kathy Burden, in an email.

The buildings are on a site once used by Agriculture Canada for testing different varieties of field crops and raising livestock, starting in the 1940s. In the 1970s, Kluane National Park and Reserve bought the disused experimental farm land and it became a base for the park's main headquarters and operations. 

Park operations were later consolidated in Haines Junction, now at the new Daku Cultural Centre. The old farm site was completely abandoned in 2012.

Kluane National Park and Reserve

The mayor of Haines Junction says the 14 buildings should be saved because of their historical significance. 

"A lot of families moved to this area because of that location, both when it was an experimental farm and when it was Parks. It has had a lot of influence on the shaping of Haines Junction by the people it has attracted over the years," said Mayor Thomas Eckervogt.

"I think it's a real shame to just destroy stuff ... That's some of the last heritage buildings in the Haines Junction area."

'Reduce, reuse, recycle'

Eckervogt says there was no consultation with the Village of Haines Junction. 

"Government is always talking about reduce, reuse, recycle ... and here they are talking about taking perfectly good buildings and destroying them," he said.

Kluane National Park and Reserve

But according to Burden, they're far from "perfectly good." 

"The buildings have also been found to contain hazardous materials, such as asbestos and lead, which were common materials used in building construction in the past, as well as mold that has formed due to their deterioration condition," she said in an emailed statement. 

Burden said contaminated soil on the site will also be remediated, once the buildings are gone.

"The buildings at the Kluane Farm were evaluated by the Federal Heritage Building Review Office in 2004 for their association with historical associations, architecture, and environment. The evaluation concluded that the buildings were not to be designated as Federal Heritage Buildings."

Anne Leckie, chair of the Yukon Cultural Heritage Resources Board, hopes a cultural resource assessment is done before any demolition, so there's some "documentation or some commemoration of the history of the site for folks from the area, so that we don't lose the history completely."

Parks Canada says it's working with Champagne and Aishihik First Nations throughout the assessment process and will continue through the building removal and soil remediation processes.

Dave Croft/CBC