Bridge widening narrows budget vote

Adding a bicycle lane to the Robert Campbell Bridge could increase safety for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists alike. It will also cost the city $1.7 million.

Adding a bicycle lane to the Robert Campbell Bridge could increase safety for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists alike. It will also cost the city $1.7 million. For that reason, it slowed down Monday’s capital budget vote.

Councillors Betty Irwin and Dave Stockdale both voted against the $15.5-million budget, saying the bridge work was unnecessary and too costly.

Only one project in the budget, reconstruction of Range Road North, pegged at slightly over $2 million, costs more.

A bicycle lane will make it easier for people to choose more active transportation, like biking or walking, said Coun. Kirk Cameron. Both cyclists and motorists have raised concerns about the bridge’s safety.

“I spent over 30 years going across that bridge in many ways, running and biking. It’s really inadequate the way it is,” said Mayor Dan Curtis, who lives in Riverdale with his wife and children. When he heard the expansion might happen, he was “delighted and ecstatic,” he told council. When his kids were still in strollers, there wasn’t enough room on the bridge to push them and have someone walk or bike, he said.

But Stockdale disagreed about the seriousness of the problem.

“We’re not widening the road. We’re just creating a path for cyclists to go on, and I don’t think it’s that serious of a problem for us to do it,” he said.

The expense is “unnecessary,” he said. “I don’t know when it will be necessary,” said the veteran councillor who has lived in Riverdale since the 1970s. “It’s a huge expense. I know it’s technically out of certain funds, but this is all taxpayers’ dollars in the long run.”

Irwin agreed. She was the only councillor to vote in favour of Stockdale’s motion to remove the project from the budget altogether.

The city should consider building a second bridge, she said. If something happens to the Robert Campbell Bridge, Riverdale would be cut off from the rest of Whitehorse. And the current bridge needs more than just a bike lane.

“I would rather have seen the bridge itself, if we’re going to spend the money on this bridge, see it widened and possibly go to four lanes. Then possibly that would help the traffic and the cycling situation,” said Irwin.

But that would cost much more.

“Essentially the bridge would have to be rebuilt,” said Brian Crist, the city’s director of infrastructure and operations. New lanes would require adding more supports in the Yukon River, he said.

Coun. John Streicker agreed. “To double a bridge, to effectively build a second bridge right alongside, is not $1.7 million. It’s an order of magnitude more,” he said.

In an emergency, drivers could travel across the dam, he said.

“It can be done,” agreed Cameron, who said he’s used that route in an emergency.

Riverdale residents will see more than the bridge change. The budget also includes $500,000 for installing new traffic lights at Lewes Boulevard and Hospital Road.

Water and sewage systems will be upgraded throughout the city. Water pipes in Hillcrest will be replaced. Another $1 million will be spent on landfill improvements, including creating a new cell, restoring the gatehouse area and investing in new composting equipment. A new pumper truck will be bought for the fire department. The city will also buy a new one-ton truck, transit bus, pothole patcher and loader.

The city has also set aside $250,000 to investigate replacing old city buildings with a new energy-efficient building.

While Stockdale’s motion to change the budget was defeated, two last-minute changes were made. Council unanimously approved adding $1.2 million for an emergency generator at the Canada Games Centre. Half of the cost will be covered by the city’s reserves. Federal funding, announced on Jan. 22, will cover the rest. The project was not included in the original budget because the funding had not been confirmed when it was made.

The city also added $250,000 to the 2014 budget to design upgrades for Wheeler Street.

Despite the debate Monday evening, Whitehorse city council received little public input on the 2013 capital budget. No delegates spoke at a public hearing on Jan. 14, and only three written comments were received.

Contact Meagan Gillmore at

mgillmore@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: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read