The City of Whitehorse has unveiled its capital budget for the coming years, with 2024 expenditures of up to $47 million and most of the spending conditional on outside funding.
The city’s proposed 2024-2027 Capital Expenditure Program shows a total of $17 million for the 2024 budget and an additional $29.3 million subject to the approval of funding from outside the city.
Speaking to the planned spending at Whitehorse city council’s Nov. 14 meeting, Mayor Laura Cabott said the budget considers the worldwide economic climate, marked by inflation and supply chain issues, and the pressure it exerts on city residents.
“Climate change has forced us to complete major infrastructure projects on condensed timelines,” the mayor said.
“This spring we again responded to the failing escarpment along Robert Service Way. A permanent solution for Robert Service Way will be one of the largest projects the city has ever undertaken.”
The budget document presented Nov. 14 contains $400,000 proposed for escarpment risk assessment in 2024. A total of $3.7 million is budgeted for detailed design and construction inspection of a permanent solution for the escarpment failures over the next four years. Of that money, $1.3 million is set for the 2024 budget.
Also budgeted is more than $57 million for construction of the escarpment solution. Of that, $30.1 million is set for the 2026 budget and $27.3 million is proposed for the following year.
All of the Robert Service Way expenditures are listed as approved subject to external funding.
Cabott said the city has applied for money to cover the work through the federal government’s disaster mitigation and adaptation fund. She said she plans to got to Ottawa to discuss the application with federal ministers and other MPs.
The mayor said the city is considering all options for the solution as design proceeds.
Presenting the proposed budget at the Nov. 14 meeting, Cabott also spoke to the city’s aging infrastructure and the investments the budget document contains to address them. One example provided was the Canada Games Centre’s aquatic facilities. The budget contains $7 million for ventilation upgrades and slide wall repairs for the pool. It also budgeted for $1.6 million for domestic water line upgrades for the games centre. Upgrades to the Canada Games Centre roof totalling more than $2 million and floor replacement at $350,000 are also in the budget.
The mayor described major sidewalk repairs throughout the city including work on sidewalk and curb repair on Two Mile Hill.
Cabott also drew attention to traffic calming efforts undertaken by the city recently and $150,000 budget items for the next four years to continue the work.
Investments in the Whitehorse Fire Department budgeted a total of $4.2 million, with purchases of replacement turnout gear and breathing apparatuses among the items to be purchased. Cabott said equipment for the department is important as it is likely to respond to at least 800 calls before the year is out.
Cabott described the spending outlined in the plan as necessary but not extravagant. While city reserves are being drawn on for some spending, Cabott said the city still has enough money to allow for flexible future planning.
“By making these difficult decisions today, we are setting the city up for success in the future so we can deliver on the major projects that will support our city’s growth well into the future,” the mayor said.
“The city is working hard to have a capital expenditure program in place by the beginning of 2024.”
City council gave first reading to the capital budget at the Nov. 14 meeting. Before it is finalized, Whitehorse citizens will be able to give their views on the proposed spending at a public input session scheduled on Nov. 27. The budget will be back before council on Dec. 11.
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