Dawson City councillor 'saddened' by prospect of new arena in Whitehorse

Dawson City Coun. Patrik Pikálek says focus should be put on building adequate recreational facilities in Yukon communities before building another sporting arena in Whitehorse.

'Call me crazy but I would have the idea that those funds would be spent outside of Whitehorse too.'

Dawson City Coun. Patrik Pikálek says Dawson's recreational facilities have been in need of serious renovations for years, but there isn't enough funding for everything they have asked for. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC)

A Dawson City councillor is expressing his concerns over conditions required for Whitehorse to host the 2027 Canada Winter Games.

The bid committee that's hoping to bring the Games to Whitehorse says that for the city to play host, it needs a new 3,500-seat arena and an athletes' village capable of housing 2,000 athletes.

Those were the two biggest projects identified in a technical review the committee sent to the Canada Games Council last week.

In a written statement sent to CBC, Patrik Pikálek said he feels priority should be given to building adequate facilities in communities outside the territorial capital before giving Whitehorse another arena.

"I would hope that the prospect of the Canada Winter Games being brought to the Yukon would prompt the building of better — or at least adequate — recreational facilities in other Yukon communities. Such facilities would undoubtedly serve and help prepare a new generation of athletes from the entire territory," he wrote.

"It saddens me to see the former capital of the Yukon struggle to find the funds even for a bare-bones version of a much needed recreational centre, while the current capital is considering building a fourth. Dawson City would be happy to talk about the possibilities of partnership in hosting the Canada Winter Games. Why not show off more of our amazing territory and ensure that the legacy value of these Games has an impact for all Yukoners?"

Whitehorse, which launched its bid last September for the 2027 event, hosted the Canada Winter Games in 2007. At that time, it got a new $43-million arena, now known as the Canada Games Centre.

The Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse was built to help host the 2007 Canada Winter Games. (Mardy Derby/CBC)

Pikálek spoke to CBC and explained that Dawson's recreational facilities have been in need of serious renovations for years — like their "year-round" swimming pool that only operates during the summer months and the aging recreational centre.

Pikálek said the Yukon government has repeatedly said there just isn't enough money in the budget.

"Our current recreational centre in Dawson is to be closed within the next four years. It's a known need for to build a new one," Pikálek explained.

"I know all the Dawsonites are yearning for a year-round swimming pool, and in the last 20 years we were told again it's just not going to happen with the current status of the funds."

The Yukon government has not yet funded the proposed arena, but Pikálek said the committee's technical review leads him to think new funding is available.

"Call me crazy, but I would have the idea that those funds would be spent outside of Whitehorse too."

Pikálek said a win-win option could be that Dawson co-hosts future Summer and Winter games with Whitehorse.

He told CBC he's only had the idea for a few days but he did offer an example of what that could look like.

"It's a plain vision, dream, but let's build the ... swimming pool in Dawson and we could host all of the swimming races here," he said. 

The construction of a new arena and an athletes' village in Whitehorse is still a long way from being confirmed.

Pikálek said he only made the statement in the hope that the legacy value that the Canada Winter Games bid committee speaks about can be shared with all Yukoners.

"My comments are just a hope to say these ideas aloud and inspire someone to look into it further."


  • A photo caption in this article has been updated to clarify that there is insufficient funding for all of Dawson City's recreation asks.
    Mar 21, 2022 2:15 PM CT