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

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Contract award proposed for landfill work

A contract worth more than $373,000 for work at the City of Whitehorse landfill could be awarded to Cobalt Construction.

Arcadio Rodriguez, the city’s acting manager of water and waste services, brought forward the proposed contract award at Whitehorse city council’s Aug. 3 meeting, noting with a bid of $373,709.50 Cobalt had the lowest of three compliant bids submitted.

The work will include excavation, installation of a new culvert and improvements to the roadway in the development of a new cell for waste.

Council will vote on the contract award Aug. 10.

Setting local content

As City of Whitehorse staff get set to release a Request for Proposals for its upcoming city-wide transportation study, Whitehorse city council is considering how much weight in the evaluation of proposals will be given to local content.

The issue came forward at council’s Aug. 3 meeting with city engineering manager Taylor Eshpeter proposing a weight of up to 15 points be available for local content as part of the evaluation of any proposals submitted.

In June, council passed a resolution that allows it, until March 31, 2021, to set a weighting for local content of up to 20 points as part of its efforts to support local contractors that may be impacted by COVID-19.

“Engineering Service’s proposal that the weighting for local content be set at 15 points is based on the following rationale: this study is a large undertaking with the objective to find solutions to complex transportation engineering problems, some of which require strategic planning for future conditions to allow the city to grow.”

The work will require specialized expertise and it’s important the consultant has experience in transportation engineering.

“Considering this, a value driven approach is proposed to maximize the weighting criteria for the technical points of the evaluation, including factors such as the project team, relevant experience and proposed methodology/approach,” Eshpeter said.

A weighting on the higher end of the range at 15 points is recommended “to reflect the desire to reward partnerships with local firms and firms who have a local office, and still allow for points to be allocated to technical points to ensure best value and best results.”

Council will vote on the weighting for the local content Aug. 10.

New recreation grant policy could be adopted

A new City of Whitehorse recreation grant policy would set funding limits and alter funding categories with applications assessed through an evaluation.

The proposed policy was put forward to Whitehorse city council at its Aug. 3 meeting.

Program leadhand Keri Rutherford outlined the review done in 2019 of the recreation grant policy, which included meetings with previous grant applicants, members of the recreation grant task force and parks and recreation staff.

“The proposed policy is based on the outcomes of the review as well as stakeholder feedback,” she said.

Under the proposed policy, the four categories would include sustainable projects and initiatives with a funding limit of $7,000 for projects; new projects and initiatives with a funding limit of $7,000 as well; training and leadership development with a funding limit of $2,500; and operational support with a limit of $5,000.

The percentage of how much would be allocated to each category was also set out at 50 per cent for sustainable projects, 20 per cent for each new projects/initiatives as well as operational support, and 10 per cent for training and leadership.

Coun. Dan Boyd expressed concerns over the impact the new policy would have on rec organizations that receive the grant. He noted many of those who receive operational support often get grants worth more than $5,000.

City manager Linda Rapp highlighted changes in funding from Lotteries Yukon that limit the amount available and noted the city will work with groups to look at how their applications may fit into other categories for funding.

The policy also outlines a scoring system to be used in evaluating applications that will look at how well the application aligns with the principles of the city’s parks and recreation master plan; the contribution the applicant is making to the project; an accountability statement detailing the project and financial statements/records for it; whether the project addresses any gaps in recreational opportunities; and any previous use of recreation grant funding.

Council will vote on the policy Aug. 10.

Off the street and to the park for Street Eats

It’s off the street and into the park for the 2020 edition of the Street Eats event later this month.

At Whitehorse city council’s Aug. 10 meeting, acting planning manager Greg Stone presented council with the plans, highlighting the move from the usual Steele Street location outside city hall to Shipyards Park.

The event sees part of Steele Street closed off for food trucks to gather and serve up their dishes to customers in one location. In 2019, approximately 10,000 dishes were served over the course of the week by 13 vendors.

Given distancing measures in place due to COVID-19, there’s concern the Steele Street location isn’t suitable for the 2020 event and, provided the Chief Medical Officer of Health approves the plan, it’s proposed it be moved to Shipyards Park.

“Shipyards Park offers more space for adequate physical distancing for vendors and customers, and will help disperse crowd sizes,” Stone explained, noting Shipyards Park is proposed for 2020 only with plans to return to Steele Street in future years “if it is safe to do so.”

Street Eats 2020 would run from Aug. 24 to Aug. 28, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the exception of Aug. 27 in order to allow the Fireweed Community Market to continue as scheduled every Thursday through the summer months.

“The event would have a single point of entry and exit beside the Frank Slim Building with signage about physical distancing requirements and hand sanitizer available to customers before entering the event,” Stone said. “A rope perimeter would be established around the event area to discourage random points of entry and to reinforce the single point of entry and exit.”

Along with city signage in place to help direct people, Stone said vendors would be required to post signs detailing the importance of physical distancing and mark two metre increments on the ground in front for line-ups.

“In its messaging for the event, the city would encourage customers to come for food, but not to stay and visit,” he stated. “For vendors who offer online ordering, we would encourage the use of this method of vending to reduce the number of customers on the event site at a given time. However, not all vendors offer this service, so it would not be possible for all ordering. To discourage large gatherings, administration would not be using the word ‘festival’ in any communications about Street Eats.”

Stone acknowledged that while the park will provide more space than Steele Street, the park is less central and that could impact attendance as well as spin-off benefits typically seen by other downtown businesses during the event.

Another $250,000 could be added to staircase project

The City of Whitehorse could add another $250,000 to the budget to rebuild the Puckett’s Gulch staircase that runs from the end of Black Street up the clay cliffs.

At Whitehorse city council’s Aug. 3 meeting, engineering manager Taylor Eshpeter brought forward the recommendation another $250,000 be added to the budget and that the nearly $600,000 contract for the work be awarded to Wildstone Construction Group.

Wildstone had the lowest of two compliant bids on the work with the other coming from Ketza Construction.

“The lowest price submitted was approximately 50 per cent higher than estimated,” Eshpeter said. “This is very specialized work that is challenging to estimate due to uncertainty in the market from a lack of historical pricing on similar work and the challenging site conditions along the escarpment.”

Eshpeter noted the timing for construction — late fall and early winter — likely also impacted pricing, “but there was no delay in design and delaying construction to next year is not advisable.”

If the work isn’t done, there’s a risk the stairs may need to be closed if erosion and glaciation continue to have an impact.

Recognizing the staircase as “an important asset to the city for many users,” Coun. Laura Cabott also highlighted her concern over the budget change questioning how the city could avoid such a situation in future projects.

“This is a significant amendment,” she said of the amount.

The original budget for the work was $250,000. Another $150,000 was added in March when design came closer to completion and it was found a more full rehabilitation of the stairs was required to address drainage and provide proper footings.

Eshpeter said initial budgets for projects are typically set in the earlier phases of design. Market conditions at the time of tender can be difficult to predict, he said.

The additional funding would come from reserves until anticipated gas tax funding for the project comes through.

Council will vote on the budget change and contract award Aug. 10.

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

Whitehorse city council