The sheet pile wall along the base of the escarpment on Robert Service Way, just prior to the roadway’s reopening. (Courtesy/City of Whitehorse)

The sheet pile wall along the base of the escarpment on Robert Service Way, just prior to the roadway’s reopening. (Courtesy/City of Whitehorse)

Yukon Government will assist with Whitehorse escarpment slide costs

Territorial authorities putting up $2 million, will seek federal money

The Yukon government is offering a hand to the City of Whitehorse in bearing costs created by the landslide from the city’s escarpment in the spring of 2022.

Through its Community Services department, the territory is providing $2 million to the city to offset the costs associated with the slide that closed Robert Service Way along with nearby pedestrian trails starting when it came down on April 30. The road was closed well into June as heavy equipment was used to clear more than 3,000 cubic metres of material and the slide area was monitored for new movement or cracks.

According to the Yukon government’s funding announcement, the City of Whitehorse estimated its costs related to the slide at $2.3 million. It also states that assessment and analysis of the escarpment’s stability by engineers is still ongoing, informing possible solutions and the cost associated with them.

Along with the engineering assessments, costs listed include fencing, barricades and 24-hour security to keep people out of the Robert Service Way area during the weeks it was closed. Material to build the wall between the base of the escarpment and the roadway and construction work to bypass a sewer line were also a part of the expense.

“The Yukon government and the City of Whitehorse are longstanding partners and we are pleased to respond to the request for support as the city dealt with a series of major challenges related to last year’s high snow pack, including the escarpment slide on Robert Service Way,” said Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn.

“Our assurance of support and backing at the time allowed the city to minimize the unexpected financial impacts to the community and municipal taxpayers. I would like to acknowledge the hard work of crews and staff from the City of Whitehorse who responded to the escarpment slide and were able to ensure the safety of Yukoners while minimizing damage to a crucial roadway.”

Whitehorse’s Mayor Laura Cabott noted the unpredictable costs for municipalities that emergencies can create and said the city is fortunate to have the support of the territorial government in helping minimize the impact the landslide had on residents who use the road.

“As our climate continues to change, we need to look at how we can adapt, mitigate, and respond to these emergencies in the future and we look forward to continuing those discussions with our government partners,” Cabott said.

The territorial government is seeking to get back some of the money it put towards the escarpment works, as well as its other expenditures related to last year’s flooding and extraordinary snow pack levels. It will be applying to the federal government’s Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA).

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