Construction has begun on the new White River Community Centre in Beaver Creek.
The project is being managed by the Yukon government but once complete, the facility will be managed by the White River First Nation.
A spokesperson with Yukon’s department of Community Services, Bonnie Venton Ross, told the News on June 15 that the construction contract was awarded to Johnston Builders in November 2021. Construction began this month and the anticipated completion is December of 2023.
Venton Ross said the 2,900-square foot community centre will be used to gather and celebrate all occasions of life, and meets the priorities established in the White River First Nation’s (WRFN) comprehensive community development plan.
Plans submitted to Yukon Socio-economic Assessment Board show a main vestibule, multi-purpose room, a reception/waiting area, washrooms, kitchen, elders lounge, mechanical and electrical spaces, and general storage. A new septic system being built as part of the project will also serve a number of residences in the community.
The total contract amount of the project is just over $5 million, with the federal government contributing $2.8 million through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan and $142,000 through Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. The remaining $2 million will be picked up by the government of Yukon.
The existing Beaver Creek Community Club is now called the Community Hall and is run as a joint partnership between WRFN and Yukon government, said local artist Teresa Vander Meer-Chasse, admitting that the similar names are a little confusing.
Community Services said that the Beaver Creek Community Club is a Yukon government-owned building and it will continue to be maintained and repaired as required.
Venton Ross continued to say that WRFN is the local authority for recreation in Beaver Creek, and receives annual funding from the Yukon government to provide recreation opportunities and manage and operate recreation infrastructure in the community.
Other recreational infrastructure in Beaver Creek includes a Yukon government-owned seasonal swimming pool, which is closed and needs repair. It is one of four seasonal pools in unincorporated communities owned by the Yukon government in Beaver Creek, Carcross, Pelly Crossing and Ross River.
Community pools are aging and in need of attention to meet current safety standards for swimming pool construction and operating systems. Pools operate with a short season, typically June to August, and Venton Ross said that, unfortunately, staffing shortages in the aquatics industry continues to be an issue.
Work is nearly complete on a new community pool in Pelly Crossing that is planned to open later this summer. That project is in partnership with the Selkirk First Nation. The Ross River pool is expected to open soon. The Carcross pool is staffed up and in full summer swing.
The Beaver Creek pool needs repair and reconditioning after years of being closed and will not open this season. Venton Ross said the pool requires additional assessment and will not be open this year. She added that further investigation is required to assess the impact of groundwater around the facility and that work is a priority for this summer.
A facility condition assessment of the four government-owned pools was completed in 2017, with additional study in 2019. The report identified a number of repairs and code upgrades required at each pool and identified design deficiencies in each facility when compared to current standards of construction and design.
Community Services has worked to upgrade pool facilities to meet safety standards, and has undertaken assessment and repairs over the past two seasons in Ross River and Carcross.
Lawrie Crawford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Yukon News