Municipalities welcome infrastructure cash but say more needed

The $30 million for infrastructure investments across Yukon announced April 27 in the territorial budget has more than a few municipalities perking up their ears.

The $30 million for infrastructure investments across Yukon announced April 27 in the territorial budget has more than a few municipalities perking up their ears.

The government also pledged $36 million to repair highways, $6.5 million for repairs to Yukon airports and airstrips and $15 million in bridge repairs, including the Nisutlin Bridge in Teslin.

“When it comes down to the nuts and bolts (of this budget) we’re very pleased,” said Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis. “We are very encouraged by the money going into infrastructure.”

The infrastructure money is a plus for communities outside of Whitehorse as well, said Diana Rogerson, a Faro town councillor and president of the Association of Yukon Communities.

“This money is based on projects identified by communities in the past and we are pleased to see the government is following up on that,” she said.

While Rogerson says the money is definitely needed, she called it “just the tip of the iceberg.”

“Most of the communities have aging infrastructure,” she said.

She said aging pipes, water systems and — in particular — solid waste management are major concerns for communities.

“Solid waste management is big priority for AYC,” she said. “It’s a Yukon-wide problem. It’s not just restricted to the municipal boundaries.”

“We are a little concerned that there was nothing in the budget that spoke to this issue.”

Both Rogerson and Curtis said they would like to see increases to the comprehensive municipal grant, which is currently up for review.

The grant allots a chunk of money to Yukon municipal governments based on a formula which considers things like tax base, population size and number of houses.

Curtis said Whitehorse gets about $8 million a year from the grant and that the city hasn’t “had an increase in a long time.”

“I sound like a bit of an ingrate,” he said. “But we still have the day-to-day running of our community and those costs continue to increase.”

Rogerson said municipalities are only mentioned four times in the budget, something she says is worrisome.

“We are a little curious as to what (the Liberal government’s) involvement will be at a municipal level,” she said.

Contact Lori Garrison at lori.garrison@yukon-news.com

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