The City of Whitehorse has adopted its 2023 capital budget, worth more than $58 million… assuming funding from other levels of government comes through.
Whitehorse city council passed the final two readings on the capital spending plan for next year, along with provisional spending to 2026, at its Dec. 12 meeting.
The plans will see the city spend $15.6 million from its own reserves, with a further $42.5 million from external sources like the Yukon and federal governments should that funding be approved.
While council was unanimous in passing the budget, with members vocalizing their support for the plan, it was acknowledged the spending will be largely on the basics needed in the city — snow removal equipment, maintaining and replacing aging infrastructure, upgrades to facilities, dealing with transportation in the city and the like.
As Mayor Laura Cabott put it: “This is not a flashy budget.”
Rather, she said, it focuses on the key services the city needs to provide and deal with as the city continues to grow. It will require the support of other levels of government to achieve all that is envisioned in the budget.
In a series of questions to city staff, Coun. Ted Laking highlighted projects to address traffic — including studies about Mountain View Drive and a potential second Yukon River crossing in and out of Riverdale, as well as traffic calming measures in neighbourhoods around town with staff noting many factors will be considered before any concepts or decisions are put forward.
Laking also made note of plans to look at under-used properties downtown, rebuild Jarvis Street, upgrades to the Mt. McIntyre Recreation Centre, a playground in Phase 6 of Whistle Bend and installing new infrastructure in Hillcrest over a four-year period, among others.
Speaking in support of the budget, he described the 2023 capital budget as “a budget that’s full of solutions.”
He pointed to traffic as an issue that’s continued to come up, also pointing to plans to improve the intersection at Two Mile Hill and Chilkoot Way with a left turn signal and the traffic calming measures to address speeding in residential neighbourhoods.
The provisional budget also includes plans to begin looking at a fire hall in the growing neighbourhood of Whistle Bend, he pointed out.
“I’m really excited about that and what it means for the future,” he said. “With that I wanted to thank the hard-working staff for the city, my colleagues, as well for their hard work and the long, long discussions we’ve had on the budget.”
Others echoed that sentiment.
As Coun. Kirk Cameron added after thanking administration for it’s work, there’s much more to do in the coming year to accomplish everything set out in the budget.
Similarly, Coun. Dan Boyd said that while he’s pleased with the budget, it’s important to recognize much of it will depend on funding from other governments and that some projects may have to be pushed out further if funding does not come through.
“It’s not all roses,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult because we’re still going to have to do a lot of work in order to have this capital budget perform for us in the way that we need to.”
The city’s 2023 operating budget is expected to come forward early in the new year.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org