City news, briefly

Some of the decisions made at the Feb. 3rd Whitehorse council meeting

Resident calls for more awareness of property tax program

Gabriele Watts is doing what she can to make Whitehorse seniors aware of a property tax deferment program.

Watts came forward as a delegate at Whitehorse city council’s Feb. 3 meeting. She said it was only in the summer of 2019 she learned of the program which allows residents aged 65 and over who live in and own their own home to defer payment of some of their property taxes until they either transfer or sell their home.

As noted on the city’s website, seniors can defer a maximum of 75 per cent of their property’s assessed value on most homes. For mobile homes, the maximum is 50 per cent of the value. Seniors must also have sufficient property insurance to be eligible for the program.

The Yukon government also has the same program for those living outside municipalities.

Watts said it became clear as she asked around — to other seniors, banks, accountants and financial advisors — that not a lot of people are aware of the program.

Programs like the Home Owner’s Grant and Pioneer Utility Grant which provide grants to homeowners and seniors to help with utilities and taxes are fairly well-known, but not many seem to know about the tax deferment option, she said.

With the average tax bill likely to be around $2,500 this year, the program can make a big difference for seniors, she said.

“For some seniors, deferring those taxes can be the difference between them keeping their home or not.”

Utilities monitoring contract could cost $164,025

As the City of Whitehorse moves forward with wireless monitoring of its utility stations, Whitehorse city council is considering a contract worth $164,025 for work on the system.

In 2001 the city brought in its SCADA (Supervisory Controls and Data Acquisition) system to collect and monitor data from remote utility stations, Taylor Eshpeter, the city’s manager of engineering services, said at the Feb. 3 council meeting.

“The system has proven to be efficient, cost effective and reliable,” he said.

“Continuation of the SCADA plan implementation is needed to move to wireless monitoring and eliminate reliance on leased lines/dedicated phone lines, which use dial-up and have delays of more than five minutes for critical monitoring.”

Radio communication equipment is proposed to be installed at stations around the city

This contract would be for the Quartz Road lift station and an outflow meter.

“Flow data is required to meet conditions of the city’s water licence and is essential data to optimize the operations of the water and sewer network.”

Jaytech Electrical & Controls submitted the only compliant bid on the work at $164,025.

In recommending that council award the contract to JayTech, Eshpeter also recommended council move funds – $501,050 – outlined in the 2019 budget for SCADA work to the 2020 spending plan.

“This work was not completed in 2019 due to limited design capacity and competing administrative priorities,” Eshpeter said.

Further SCADA upgrades are also planned in 2020.

Council is scheduled to vote on the contract and budget change Feb. 10.

Whitehorse considers spending 70K on trail plan

LEES + Associates could be tasked with a major update to the City of Whitehorse trail plan.

It was recommended the firm be awarded the $69,741 contract for the work and that money budgeted for the plan be moved from the 2019 budget to 2020.

With the 10-year trail plan adopted in 2007, it’s due for an update, Landon Kulych, the city’s manager of parks and community development, told Whitehorse city council at it’s Feb. 3 meeting.

“An updated trail plan will inform future management and decision-making strategies, recommend growth opportunities, and support relationship-building initiatives,” he said.

The local firm was one of six to submit proposals for the work, coming out with the highest score in an evaluation that first looked at project team, methodology and approach, past experience and performance, and project schedule.

In his report, Kulych noted there would be a significant public engagement process “with the intention to develop a final plan that addresses strategic trail planning priorities spanning the next 10 years. As the community continues to grow, the new trail plan will be an essential planning resource.”

Kulych highlighted meetings with First Nations governments and stakeholders, a public open house among the list of input opportunities, noting that LEES + Associates have also proposed releasing a What We Heard document following the input opportunities as well as an early draft of the plan when it’s about 75 per cent complete in order to get feedback from the city before the official draft comes forward for consideration.

Kulych said if the contract award goes ahead as proposed, the city will likely see a draft in August with a final plan coming forward in September or October.

Council will vote on the contract award Feb. 10.

Whitehorse councillors make plans to attend FCM conference

Three Whitehorse city councillors could be headed to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual conference set for June 4 to 7 in Toronto.

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, brought forward a recommendation that council approve the travel and per diem expenses for councilors Dan Boyd, Jocelyn Curteanu and Steve Roddick to attend the annual event.

Council will vote whether to approve the travel and per diems Feb. 10.

Whitehorse may be down one representative at the AYC

Whitehorse city council is expected to rescind the appointment of Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu as a council representative on the board of the Association of Yukon Communities (AYC).

Curteanu was appointed as a council representative with councillors Steve Roddick and Jan Stick.

She also serves on the AYC executive committee.

As a member of the executive committee, Curteanu can’t serve as a council representative with the organization.

“The expedient solution to clarify this situation is to rescind the appointment of Coun. Curteanu as a council representative to AYC,” Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services said at the Feb. 3 council meeting.

“Rescinding the appointment will not affect her role on the AYC executive committee, nor will it affect council’s representation on AYC, as councillors Roddick and Stick will continue in their appointments in that role.”

Council will vote on whether to rescind Curteanu’s role as a council representative to AYC at its Feb. 10 meeting.

Whitehorse city council