Wayne Tuck, City of Whitehorse operations building project manager, gives the Yukon News a tour of the buildings construction progress in Whitehorse on Aug. 14. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

A look inside Whitehorse’s operations building

A phased-in move is expected to begin in October

Inside the new City of Whitehorse operations building, construction crews of about 40 people on any given day move throughout the maze of hallways and large open spaces, some finishing up flooring work, others moving materials from one space to another.

Large piles of dirt are strategically placed around the 11,567-square-metre structure, ready for landscaping.

Progress on the building is evident, though far from the original expected completion date of Jan. 31. A series of change orders to the project resulted in a new schedule and a budget increase of more than $500,000 approved by Whitehorse city council in June. That brought the building cost up to $39.7 million, though that remains under the $43 million the city had expected to spend on construction.

As project manager Wayne Tuck pointed out during an Aug. 14 tour, difficulties are to be expected, particularly with this being one of the largest projects in the city’s history.

“There’s always challenges,” he said, highlighting the work is in full swing and approximately 100 staffers, starting with the fleet division, will begin a phased move-in starting in October.

Operations, transit, water and waste services, human resources and engineering services will eventually be based there.

Other city departments are also set to shift locations in the years ahead.

Parks staff, for example, will eventually be based out of the current transit building in Marwell.

A new fire hall will be built downtown with the current Second Avenue fire hall and city hall set for major changes as the city plans a services structure in the space and a retrofit to city hall. The services building will house departments that deal with the public every day, such as planning.

Once staff is out of the Municipal Services Building on Fourth Avenue, that structure will likely be demolished and the land sold.

It’s all part of the city’s consolidation effort to better centralize city services.

The focus now is on finishing the operations building, with the fire hall being built next year while planning continues on the services building and city hall.

Paving of the road to the operations building off Range Road wrapped up in July. A side door to the building enters into what will become office space and meeting rooms for inside workers.

Those rooms will feature glass walls positioned for sunlight to come in from larger hallway windows. Staff will have the option of drawing blinds for privacy, but Tuck is anticipating far fewer lights turned on through the day.

“There’s all this natural light,” he said, pointing up to skylights throughout the structure.

The building also takes advantage of the sun’s energy with solar panels to help power the building along with more conventional power.

Officials had considered using biomass, but at this point it would be too costly, Tuck said. It isn’t being ruled out for the future with space identified for boilers.

Beyond the office space, Tuck highlighted a large open space as the main public entrance. It’s not anticipated there will be a lot of traffic from your average resident, but the departments based there deal with contractors on a regular basis.

There are also those contractors working on city projects who come to the city warehouse if they need something for the project that they would otherwise be waiting on to be shipped in.

Another large open space will eventually be a lunchroom and kitchen — with a smaller one on the other side of the building for outside staff. As Tuck explained, outside workers will have access to the larger space, but the smaller one is closer to their work area if they want to grab a quick bite to eat.

A series of lockers are installed and covered in protective plastic, with bench anchors in place behind walls of brick installed by-hand. The locker rooms also feature showers.

Among other offerings to workers is inside bike storage as well as outdoor bike racks for those who pedal to work. Many already cycle to work and Tuck is expecting that will increase as many won’t have to travel downhill to the downtown and then back up after their work day.

Moving through to the other side of the building, Tuck noted the vehicle and equipment bays that will store the city’s equipment.

Space for mechanical work will no longer require a constant moving of vehicles as they are worked on. There’s room for short-term routine work with additional space where vehicles undergoing long-term work, or waiting on a part, can remain.

Outside workers will come in through an entry way where they can take off wet outer gear before heading inside the main building.

Outside, Tuck pointed to another building — large enough to fit three vehicles for washing. The wash bay had originally been planned as part of the larger building, then proposed for another part of the property before further work determined this as the right spot where vehicles can drive through the wash bay to be cleaned before coming back to the operations building.

The wash bay location has been the subject of controversy as neighbouring Trans North Helicopters says it makes it difficult for the company to meet federal regulations on how far it can fly from a building if it is to take off and land at its site. The city maintains the plans received approval from NAV Canada before the building was erected and TransNorth did not raise the issue until after construction. City officials also said they haven’t seen anything from NAV Canada about the situation.

The matter saw Trans North opt to move from its property in the fall.

Meanwhile, the city is continuing consolidation work and planning for the future. With that in mind, it has identified a number of areas on the operations building property where expansion could happen if needed, Tuck said.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Yukon Budget 2.0

If the banks that finance the Yukon’s growing debt were the only… Continue reading

Yukon Supreme Court Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan dismissed an application on May 3 seeking more transparity on the territory’s state of emergency declaration. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Supreme Court rules confidential memo can’t be used in challenge of state of emergency

Court upholds cabinet confidentiality after request to use internal government memo as evidence.

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 7, 2021.… Continue reading

Yukon Party MLAs Wade Istchenko and Stacey Hassard are facing criticism for crude text messages in a group chat. (Submitted)
First Nations leaders call for stricter punishment of Yukon Party MLAs

Queer Yukon has also criticized the two individuals involved in an inappropriate group chat

Fire chief Jason Everett (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City launches emergency alert system

The city is calling on residents and visitors to register for Whitehorse Alert

Two young orienteers reach their first checkpoint near Shipyards Park during a Yukon Orienteering Association sprint race May 5. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Orienteers were back in action for the season’s first race

The Yukon Orienteering Association began its 2021 season with a sprint race beginning at Shipyards.

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its May 3 meeting and the upcoming 20-minute makeover.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister talks tourism in “virtual visit” to the Yukon

Tourism operators discussed the budget with Freeland

Polarity Brewing is giving people extra incentive to get their COVID vaccine by offering a ‘free beer’ within 24 hours of their first shot. John Tonin/Yukon News
Polarity Brewing giving out ‘free’ beer with first COVID vaccination

Within 24 hours of receiving your first COVID-19 vaccine, Polarity Brewing will give you a beer.

A Yukon government sign is posted to one of the trees that have been brought down for the sewer project in Riverdale explaining the project. The area is set to be revegetated with grass when it is complete. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Planned stormsewer outfall will improve drainage on Selkirk Street

Resident raises concern over clearing as council considers agreement.

The Yukon Wildlife Preserve’s baby bison, born April 22, mingles with the herd on April 29. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Yukon Wildlife Preserves welcomes two bison calves

A bison calf was the first 2021 baby born at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve

A map provided by the Yukon government shows the location of unpermitted logging leading to a $2,500 fine. (Courtesy/Yukon government)
Man fined $2,500 for felling trees near Beaver Creek

The incident was investigated by natural resource officers and brought to court.

Most Read