West Dawson voters, cut off by freeze-up, get own polling station for Yukon election

The ferry stopped running between West Dawson and Dawson City in mid-October, but ballots for the Yukon territorial election were flown in by helicopter.

Ballots flown in by helicopter for 90 eligible voters isolated by river not frozen enough for ice bridge

Signs direct West Dawson voters to a polling station in deputy returning officer Gabby Sgaga's garage. It's heated with a barrel stove. (submitted by Gabby Sgaga)

Residents in West Dawson may be cut off from the rest of Dawson City — and the rest of the territory for that matter — but they'll still be able to vote in the Yukon election today. 

The ferry stopped going to West Dawson in mid-October, so for now there's no crossing the Yukon River until freeze-up is over and an ice bridge opens.

About 90 voters live in West Dawson and for the first time, they have their own polling station.

West Dawson is across the Yukon River from the main town site of Dawson City. Ferry service stopped in October as the river freezes up. (Google)

It's in deputy returning officer Gabby Sgaga's garage, and like the rest of the buildings in West Dawson, her garage is off grid. But voters and poll staff will be able to stay warm, she said. 

"I actually have a barrel stove in my garage so we'll get a fire going and keep it going all day." 

The ballots were flown across the river by helicopter.

Sebastian Jones lives nearby and is happy it will take only five minutes to walk over and vote.

"I'm sure it's going to make a difference to the turnout," he said.

About 23,000 people are on Yukon's list of electors. Across the territory, turnout at the advance polls broke records with more than 5,000 votes already cast.

For everyone else, including West Dawson, polls are open from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. PT.

with files from Cheryl Kawaja


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