Town of Faro assumes ownership of abandoned, decaying homes
Former mining town can now decide whether to tear down disused buildings, or fix them up
Faro is nestled in the breathtaking beauty of Yukon's Pelly Valley, but for the last 20 years the defining feature of the former mining town has been the depressing sight of dozens of neglected and decaying buildings.
They were the former homes of people who worked at the town's massive lead-zinc mine, which closed in the late 1990s.
Since then they've sat empty, with broken windows and sagging doors, while the Town of Faro watched helplessly — it didn't own the properties, so couldn't make decisions about what to do with them.
Now, though, the town has acquired title to the 37 properties, through the Tax Lien Act. There are 170 dwelling units in total, given that many of the properties are row houses and apartment blocks.
Chief administrative officer Ian Dunlop said now the town is free to either tear the buildings down or put them on the market to be renovated.
The new Liberal government in Yukon has agreed to form a task force to tackle the issue.
"It [the team] will provide us with some expertise, so we'll be able to tap into the various departments of the Yukon government, and find out for example where there might be some sources of funding that will help us do this," Dunlop said.
"The scale of what we're dealing with here is unique to Faro, so it seems that we need to come up with a 'made in Faro' solution to how we're going to proceed."
Dunlop said the "community development team" will consist of staff from the town, as well as some elected councillors.
It will be coordinated by Yukon's department of community service, with advisors from that department and the Yukon Housing Corporation.
Dunlop said over the winter, the team will assess which properties are worth salvaging, and which aren't. He said demolishing some of the buildings will leave the town with a fresh stock of fully-serviced vacant lots.
"Some of the lots are a fairly generous size, so if you were to take a property that had a four-plex or six-plex on it, and put a nice single family home with a detached garage, you can have all the amenities you want, right in the middle of town."
Dunlop added that renovating the properties that are deemed worth saving could be an ideal training opportunity for tradespeople.
"We'll be bringing in some expertise from Yukon Housing, from [the] abandoned mines [branch], even Yukon College has expressed interest in being involved in that team, to see if there's opportunities for trades training, for example."
He estimates that probably half of the units must be demolished.
Dunlop said the town is considering setting up a development corporation to handle the sale of the remaining properties.
The community development team is expected to meet later this month.