City budget pumped to $21 million

Whitehorse's $21-million capital budget is waterlogged. The biggest expense in the document is Riverdale's Selkirk pumphouse, which supplies the city with water. Built in the 1950s, it's old.

Whitehorse’s $21-million capital budget is waterlogged.

The biggest expense in the document is Riverdale’s Selkirk pumphouse, which supplies the city with water.

Built in the 1950s, it’s old.

And while it pumps about 14 million litres of water a day, that won’t be enough when the city expands.

So officials are spending $3 million to renovate it.

“The existing pipes, valves and equipment are showing significant signs of age,” said Robert Fendrick, director of administrative services.

Once complete, the pumphouse will handle 45 million litres per day, and can be expanded beyond that.

The second-biggest budget item is for work on the other end of the pipes, so to speak.

The city’s main sewage lagoon, Livingston Trail, will get $2.5 million to keep the smell down.

And $30,000 will be spent exploring the issue of residential water meters in Whitehorse.

“We are aware that Whitehorse has a high, per capita usage of water,” said Fendrick.

The consultation is the first step towards installing meters, he said.

The meters would cut water use. That would cut the cost of pumping and treatment, saving the city a considerable amount of money, said Fendrick.

“We want to find out people’s views on it.”

“There’s not a lot of room to do a lot,” said Mayor Bev Buckway of the budget.

With such a small tax base, she kept her wish list small.

“But I’m pleased to see the water conservation move up,” she said. “That’s a really important one for people in the city. We’ve been talking about water meters for many years.”

The city will also build a new municipal services building.

The project is projected to cost $20 million dollars over the next four years – just $1 million shy of the entire capital budget for 2011.

It will replace the existing facility on Fourth Avenue. A site for the new building has not been chosen, but it won’t be downtown.

Putting many services under one roof, including transit, parks and the animal shelter, will be more efficient, said Buckway.

Sale of the existing buildings is expected to make the city about $5 million, said Fendrick.

Last year, the city projected a $10-million capital budget. But the city received additional grants from the territory and Ottawa of about $8 million. It is making up the other $3 million from city reserves.

“If we did not have our gas tax money to help us with our capital projects, we would be in really dire straits,” said Buckway.

Equipment, roadwork and ongoing projects like Whistle Bend and Black Street make up the bulk of the rest of the expenses.

And Riverdale will see the latest roundabout. It will be built at Lewes Boulevard and Nisutlin Drive, in front of the Super A.

Industrial Road from Two Mile Hill to Quartz Road will be completely ripped up, at a cost of nearly $2.5 million.

And turning lanes for east-west traffic will be put in at the intersection of Two Mile Hill and the Alaska Highway.

The city will also erect a new electric sign, much like the one at the Canada Games Centre, at City Hall, Shipyards Park or “somewhere else,” said Fendrick. It will cost $46,000.

Residents can comment by calling, e-mailing or writing the city or attending a public meeting on January 17.

Council is expected to approve the budget by the end of January.

Contact Roxanne Stasysyzn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

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