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

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

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Local content considered

Local firms that plan to submit proposals on the contract to renovate the former City of Whitehorse transit building and install a biomass heating system could have an advantage over Outside firms.

At Whitehorse city council’s Nov. 16 meeting, city operations manager Richard Graham brought forward a recommendation that 10 points be available for local content as part of the evaluation for any proposals submitted.

Through a resolution passed in June aimed at supporting local contractors impacted by COVID, council is able to set the weighting for local content of up to 20 points.

In this case, city staff is proposing 10 points for local content be available in the evaluation for local firms.

“It is believed that there are companies in Whitehorse that would be qualified and interested in doing this work,” Graham stated in his report to council. “As this is a relatively small contract it is not anticipated to attract significant interest from non-Yukon businesses, the remaining points not assigned to local content have been reserved for price, to ensure good value for tax payers.”

The project will see energy upgrades, interior renovations and the installation of a biomass heating system at the former transit building at 139 Tlingit St. in Marwell.

The transit department has moved to the new operations building off Range Road with the city’s parks department scheduled to move into 139 Tlingit St. once the renovations there are finished.

The request for proposals will be released in December after council votes on the local content weighting on Nov. 23.

Wildfire risk

Some Whitehorse city councilors are suggesting the city should go beyond committing to just one action outlined in the city’s wildfire risk reduction strategy and action plan.

At council’s Nov. 16 meeting, acting city manager Mike Gau brought forward a recommendation that council adopt one action item from the wildfire risk reduction report done in 2019 to work with the Yukon government, Kwanlin Dün First Nation, and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council to clarify the roles and responsibilities around the management of forests and fuel.

As Gau went on to note in his administrative report to council, forest and wildfire management in the territory is the responsibility of the Yukon government with First Nations also having a role on their settlement lands.

“The part to be played by the city needs to be clarified with the other levels of government as a priority action item,” Gau said.

He added that work around that would also include looking at and applying for different funding sources to implement the plan, considering bylaw and policy changes to support wildfire risk management within the city and formalizing intergovernmental arrangements around fuel management.

“Administration proposes that council confirm Action #8 by passing a resolution to adopt it, thereby confirming direction to administration to engage in discussions with other government partners,” Gau said.

Along with that is the recommendation that the city adopt the wildfire risk report as a guiding document, including the other 11 action items outlined.

While Gau emphasized staff would consider the entire document and that could mean returning to council for direction on other matters coming out of the report, councillors Dan Boyd, Steve Roddick and Laura Cabott argued they’d like to see the city take a stronger approach with the document.

“I think we should adopt the whole thing, then implement what we can,” Cabott said after Boyd said he was “a little disappointed” that city administration had settled on just one action item which he argued is “pretty weak.”

While Boyd said he will likely support the motion recognizing it is better than nothing, he was also clear he would like to see further action taken around the entire action plan.

Other action items outlined in the plan would identify the city lead department and staff to implement the plan; apply for funding for projects; consider changes to a number of bylaws and policies to help decrease fire risk; support neighbourhoods and community groups to participate in FireSmart programs; formalize the memorandum of understanding around personal fuel wood harvest in the city; and planning for biomass projects.

Roddick commented he doesn’t understand why the city would not adopt the document as a whole.

Council will vote on whether to move forward with the proposal to work with other governments in clarifying roles and responsibilities in managing forests and fuel.

Grants considered

The City of Whitehorse could be doling out nearly $6,000 in environmental grants.

At Whitehorse city council’s Nov. 19 meeting, Sabine Schweiger, the city’s environmental coordinator, brought forward a recommendation that the grants be approved for three projects.

The largest amount would see $3,500 go to L’Aurore boréale, the French language newspaper, for 10 articles focused on the local economy and sustainability, an initiative that has a total budget of $9,000.

Coun. Samson Hartland noted this may be the first time the grant is going to a media agency.

Schweiger confirmed the grant can go to businesses and societies that meet the eligibility requirements.

Meanwhile the smallest of the three projects would see $1,000 for Morrison Hirschfield to install covered bike parking. That project is estimated to cost a total of $2,000.

Finally, Selkirk Elementary School council would receive $1,446.96 for reflective tape and brochures as a number of students commute to school in the dark. The project budget is $2,659.

Coun. Jan Stick praised the move, noting it’s a safety issue as it’s often difficult to see small kids walking to school or their bus stop in the dark.

“I wish every school would’ve done this,” she said, noting her hope other schools will be encouraged to do something similar.

Council will vote on the grants Nov. 23.

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

Whitehorse city council