Korbo Bites the Dust

Photo by Dan Davidson

by Dan Davidson

The John Korbo Apartment Building, which served variously as staff and social housing from sometime in the late 1960s until the summer of 2011, is gone. The building came down on November 1. The demolition tender was awarded to Quantum Murray, a demolition/remediation specialist company out of Vancouver.  Subcontracting went to Arctic Backhoe and Gammie Trucking.

The decision to demolish the Korbo was taken after the completion of Yukon Housing’s new social housing apartment building on Turner Street, across town. While Dawson’s council, the Klondike Development Organization and the Yukon School of Visual Arts all recommended that the building be salvaged for a variety of possible housing uses (summer workers, SOVA residence, etc.) the corporation rejected these recommendations.

While decades of retrofitting and an entirely new roof system meant that the building looked fine from the outside, YHC determined that the age and interior condition of the building, coupled with contamination from a 22,000 litre heating fuel leak discovered during 2010, made it impossible to restore the ailing forty year old structure for other uses.

The plan announced during last summer was to remove or demolish it and plan for a public/private partnership project to put some other low cost housing option on the site once the oil contamination had been removed.

Demolition work began in September, with salvageable fixtures and appliances being removed from the building. The metal roofing material was salvaged and October saw workers dismantling the trusses from the roof addition.

On November 1, however, that activity came to an end with many of the trusses still in place, and the demolition equipment moved in, chewing through the building in an afternoon’s work that left a pile of rubble in the place where people used to live.

One former resident stood across the road, taking pictures as the shovel’s scoop leveled the apartment that had been her first independent home.

There has been some discussion at the town council table as to where in the Quigley Landfill there would possibly be room for the refuse from an entire apartment building. Superintendent of Public Works Norm Carlson’s most recent report to council (October 21/11) underlined this concern.

“Quigley landfill is fast filling up, especially with all of the construction and exploration occurring in the region.

“The Korbo Apartments are slated for demolition and require a site for the waste.”

Carslon intended to recommend that the waste would have to be burned or buried and covered, and that the contractor would have to bear the cost. Ultimately however, he stated that the landfill was too small for this sudden increase in waste disposal and would have to be enlarged. This is in spite of strenuous efforts by both the city and Conservation Klondike over the past several years to reduce the amount of waste flowing to the site.

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