Private business operators will be able to provide guided tours at two national historic sites in the Yukon, MP Ryan Leef announced Friday.
Thirty employees at the S.S. Klondike, one of the most popular stops for visitors during the summer in Whitehorse, were laid off last May, and the funding cuts meant there would be no more guided tours.
The steamboat hauled cargo along the Yukon River in the first half of the 20th century until a road was built to Dawson City. It was designated a national historic site in 1967.
Yukoners have been vocal in their opposition to the cuts that would affect the S.S. Klondike and the Dredge No. 4 historic site in Dawson City. Dredge No. 4 was the largest wooden-hulled bucket-lined dredge in North America and was used to mine gold from the riverbed.
"Changes and shifts can be tough for people at times, but it provides us a great opportunity to find a new way of doing business," said Leef.
"It finds a great opportunity to improve and to give again Yukoners a great hand in things that are so very important to them. We've obviously heard that loud and clear over the last year or so."
Leef said Parks Canada will also waive entry fees for guided tour groups at both locations.
Tour operators will be able to determine the amount they charge clients.
Yukon's Parks Canada superintendent Ann Morin applauded the decision.
"We’re really quite pleased that the announcement has been made and we’re looking forward to working with new operators who are interested in working with us," she said.
"We’re really hoping that businesses come forward."
Parks Canada will still be responsible for the operation and maintenance at both sites.
Businesses will find out by April 15 if they will be providing guided tours of the historic sites.
Meanwhile, concern has been raised about the vast archaeological collection in Dawson City. It will continue to be managed locally by Parks Canada with assistance from national collections and curatorial staff.