A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week.
Formalizing new processes
Whitehorse city council members formalized their new temporary meeting formats at a special meeting of council April 2.
The changes which have come in light of COVID-19 have seen council move to a largely electronic format, with all members except for the meeting chair (normally the mayor or deputy mayor) who must be physically present for the meeting to happen.
Under the changes, delegates and those who want speak at public hearings are being invited to submit their comments in writing via the city website. The comments will be posted to the website with delegation submissions being read into the record at the meeting. Submissions for public hearings will not be read into the record, but will be summarized in a report to council.
Coun. Laura Cabott raised concerns about council’s ability to ask followup questions of the delegate, with city staff noting any questions will be forwarded to the delegate for a response, which will then be provided to council.
Along with the gallery being closed to the public, city staff at meetings have also been kept to a minimum. Some senior managers are there, and staff tasked with providing reports to council come into council chambers only for the duration of their report.
The temporary measures will be kept in place until the chief medical officer of health rescinds the declaration of a public health emergency due to COVID-19, or until there are further recommendations by the chief medical officer of health.
Breathing apparatus contract awarded
Gullivan International Co. has been awarded a contract worth close to $400,000 to supply the Whitehorse Fire Department with new breathing apparatus.
Council voted to award the contract at its March 30 meeting.
The department is replacing its current breathing apparatus because the units have been discontinued, making replacement parts hard to find.
“In addition to the product becoming obsolete and nearing the end of its service life, employees have had some near misses due to regulator freeze up in cold temperatures thus creating safety concerns,” Whitehorse fire chief Jason Everitt said at an earlier council meeting.
Gullivan submitted the only compliant bid for the 40 new units.
Northwestel could be sole-sourced $612,000 contract
The City of Whitehorse will waive the bidding process and award a three-year $612,000 fixed phone line service contract to Northwestel.
Council approved the contract March 30.
The city currently has about 350 fixed phone lines in use, with many used for security and alarm systems, as well as 10 used for fax lines, Michael Reyes, the city’s manager of business and technology systems, stated in a previous report to council.
Northwestel is the only operator approved by the CRTC to provide fixed phone lines in the territory. Officials looked at other options after awarding the current contract to Northwestel, but it was learned that would require a capital investment, additional staffing and if there were problems with the internet, the city wouldn’t have access to the phone lines.
Some council members expressed hope after this contract is finished another option will be available, but ultimately conceded at this point fixed phone lines are the way to go for now.
KDFN and City of Whitehorse will sign deal
The City of Whitehorse and Kwanlin Dün First Nation will partner on the work to rebuild much of Tlingit Street in Marwell after Whitehorse city council voted March 30 to sign off on an agreement for it.
Efforts to rebuild the street have been underway since 2019. The work is being done using city, federal and territorial funds along with a contribution from the KDFN.
Under the agreement, KDFN will supply the majority of the granular material needed for the work. There’s a provision for the city to purchase up to $100,000 of granular material beyond that.
The developer of a 10-unit rental development proposed for downtown will receive a city incentive provided the project goes ahead as planned.
Whitehorse city council approved the development incentive March 30.
Brian Gilday is planning to build the 10-unit development at 600 Ray St. and applied for the recently-updated city incentive.
“This policy is meant to encourage smaller, denser housing forms in targeted areas and rental and supportive housing,” planning manager Mélodie Simard told Whitehorse city council at its March 23 meeting.
This project falls under the rental and supportive housing incentive. Gilday will receive a reduction in development cost charges along with a 10-year economic development incentive to a maximum of $500,000. The grant will be available annually provided property taxes are paid in full.
Public hearing set on tank farm plans
A public hearing will be held April 27 on a proposed change the Official Community Plan designation for a 7.3-hectare section of the 56-hectare tank farm site between Hamilton Boulevard and Burns Road.
The proposal would see the designation change from its current residential designation to a commercial industrial designation as the land is not suitable for residential use after significant remediation work in recent years.
Owners of the property are working to redevelop it.
By passing first reading of the OCP change, Whitehorse city council has moved the matter to the public hearing phase.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures, members of the public are not permitted inside council chambers.
Instead those who had been planning to appear as delegates for the hearing will be invited to submit their comments in writing to then be published on the city’s website.
A report will come forward ahead of second reading on May 25. If second reading is passed, the change will then go through a ministerial review before coming back to council for a vote on third reading.
Landfill changes in place
A number of changes are in place at landfills, free stores and recycling centres around the territory in light of COVID-19.
The most recent announcement from the City of Whitehorse asks those coming to the landfill to use a debit or credit card, or their account. The city is also suspending compost sales and has cancelled its annual household hazardous waste day May 2. Residents are asked to keep such waste until further notice.
While the city is encouraging residents to limit visits to the landfill, those who do go are asked to keep physical distant from other people, follow proper hygiene protocols, and to cough or sneeze into elbows. At other facilities throughout the territory the Yukon government has shut all free stores and recycling depots for the time being.
The introduction of tipping fees at a number of other community waste facilities is being delayed untile recycling facilities are reopened.
However, illegal dumping fines increased on April 1.
“Increasing fines for offences under the Environment Act and the Solid Waste Regulations are needed because fines are out of date and too low to be a meaningful penalty,” the Yukon government noted in a statement.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at email@example.com