Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)

City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its Jan. 24 meeting.

Pandemic impacts raise concerns for councillor

Whitehorse city councillor Ted Laking is raising concerns over the impacts of the latest COVID-19 public health measures.

The latest measures implemented by the territory have seen greater limits on gatherings, events and a requirement for bars and restaurants to close by 10 p.m.

At council’s Jan. 24 meeting, Laking raised concerns about the impacts to local businesses as well as recreation groups, suggesting efforts should be made to look at what the city can do to support those impacted.

He argued that reducing red tape could help the business community, specifically pointing to ways of making it easier for bars and restaurants to provide outdoor seating. Other members of council pointed out that the city made changes last year aimed at just that. Mayor Laura Cabott suggested Laking review the discussions and decision made on it and, if there is something that could be changed, to then bring it forward.

When Laking brought forward questions about recreation and the city’s facilities, acting director of community services Krista Mroz confirmed the city works with several hundred user groups and is not charging cancellation fees due to COVID-19. The city has asked impacted groups to cancel their bookings to the end of January in light of the restrictions.

Interim city manager Jeff O’Farrell also noted that many recreation and sports groups in the city are seeing financial impacts from the regulations. He noted the Yukon government has provided some funding to affected programs in the past.

The issue is likely to be discussed at an upcoming conference call between organizations and government bodies, he said.

Tax lien list prepped

Any Whitehorse property owners with outstanding property tax bills may want to settle those debts in the coming days before Whitehorse city council votes whether to sign off on its annual tax lien list.

The list is published annually detailing any outstanding amounts of property taxes, interest and penalties owing.

At council’s Jan. 24 meeting, Valerie Braga, the city’s director of corporate services, brought forward the proposed 2021 list with a recommendation the city seal be affixed to it and the list published.

It includes a total of 71 properties where tax amounts are owed ranging from $140.78 to $14,430 for a total of $178,499.

“Each property on this list will be levied an administration fee and will be subject to further collection procedures if the account is not paid within 60 days,” Braga stated in a report to council. “Those steps include initial application for title to the property after 12 months and final application for title to the mediation board after a further six months. If the taxes remain outstanding, the title to the property is transferred to the city and, assuming the city has no use for the property, it is disposed of at fair market value.”

In answering questions from council, Braga said there’s already been a few property owners who have come in recently to pay off their tax bills and it’s anticipated there will be more in the coming days. Should property owners pay off the tax bill before Jan. 31 at noon, their names won’t be fixed to the list.

Council will vote on signing off on the list Jan. 31.

Writing off uncollectible accounts

The City of Whitehorse could write off more than $20,000 in uncollectible accounts.

At Whitehorse city council’s Jan. 24 meeting, director of corporate services Valerie Braga brought forward a recommendation council move ahead with a bylaw to write off uncollectible amounts. Such a bylaw comes forward annually and is required under the Municipal Act.

As Braga explained, accounting practises require such amounts to be written off where there is little likelihood of collection.

“In certain circumstances, an account will remain with a collection agency or credit bureau for possible further action as identified in the bylaw,” she said. “There is a small possibility that some collection will occur subsequent to write-off. In that event the collection will be appropriately recognized in the City’s financial records.”

The uncollectible accounts include $11,125 in non-Yukon parking tickets (as the city has no way of collecting this through motor vehicles as it does for Yukon vehicles), $8,645 for an error in tax assessments where city taxes were levied after occupiers had passed away or a building was removed; and $371 for an individual’s parking fines that have been deemed uncollectible as the debt is unsecured.

Council will vote on whether to move forward with the bylaw Jan. 31.

Lagoon project may move forward

Two cells at Livingstone Lagoon could see some work later this year if Whitehorse city council votes to move ahead for the procurement of the project.

At council’s Jan. 24 meeting, Karen Furlong, the city’s manager of water and waste services, brought forward a recommendation that council approve the commencement for the procurement of the project, which is required under the city’s water licence.

In cases where a project is anticipated to cost $500,000 or more, council must approve the procurement going ahead.

“Desludging the LTECF primary cells keeps the solids load at a level that allows the wastewater treatment system to operate efficiently,” Furlong stated in a report to council. “An added benefit is that the removal of solids partially aids with the mitigation of odors that become a nuisance at certain times of the year for residents of Whistle Bend and Porter Creek.

“This project will hire a contractor specializing in desludging/solids dredging, to remove solids from the primary Cell A of the LTECF, pump it into geotubes to dry, and transfer existing dried biosolids (from 2018 work) into nearby land for disposal.”

If council approves the procurement at its Jan. 31 meeting, tender documents will be released Feb. 14 with the contract expected to be awarded by April 4. Work would begin around June 6 and wrap up July 29.

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

Whitehorse city council

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