Whitehorse City Hall is seen in a file photo. (Yukon News file)

Whitehorse City Hall is seen in a file photo. (Yukon News file)

City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its April 11 meeting and other city happenings.

Easter hours

For the Easter long weekend, some City of Whitehorse services will be operating on reduced hours while others will be shut.

Transit will operate on a weekend service schedule from April 15 to 18, while the Canada Games Centre will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day for the entire long weekend, the city said in a statement.

The Waste Management Facility will be closed on April 15.

Curbside collection for Logan, Copper Ridge and Whistle Bend will operate on its normal schedule April 18.

Most other city facilities and services will be closed from April 15 to April 18.

Watching for potholes

Pothole season has come again, and City of Whitehorse crews are busy filling the holes on city roadways caused by the spring freeze-thaw cycle, officials said in a statement.

Crews are filling about 1,400 potholes a week and have filled approximately 6,000 in total this year.

To help the city locate and repair potholes quickly, residents are encouraged to report them by calling the city’s 24-hour Road Maintenance Control Centre at 867-633-7669.

Residents are reminded to drive with care, reduce speed and obey traffic signage in areas where crews are working.

Conditional use approved

Whitehorse city council has approved the conditional use application for a caretaker suite to be built at 238 Tlingit Road.

A local family applied for approval to have a caretaker suite on the property where they are also planning to run a U-Haul rental business, next door to the site they currently operate a storage facility from.

The plans will see a 157-square-metre caretaker residence with three bedrooms built on the second level of a two-storey structure that features commercial space on the ground floor.

A public hearing on the application saw just one submission come in from the property owner – the Kwanlin Dün First Nation – expressing support.

Before voting in favour of the conditional use approval, Mayor Laura Cabott and Coun. Ted Laking voiced their support with Cabott noting the proposal is in line with the city’s Marwell plan in encouraging more live/work opportunities in the neighbourhood. She also pointed out that while this one application approval won’t solve the housing crisis the city is facing, it does signal the city is open to new ideas.

Laking also commented that “every little bit helps” and said he would like to see the city’s housing advisory committee look at ways the approval process of caretaker suites can be more streamlined.

Alkan Air lease approved

A new lease is in place for Alkan Air’s dock space on Schwatka Lake after Whitehorse city council passed third reading of the bylaw governing the agreement.

The lease will see the company pay $9,050 per year for the 0.168 hectare site.

The lease rate represents a significant increase over the previous lease the company had with the city that was set at $900.

The new rate is based on an updated policy for such agreements based on 10 per cent of the land’s value.

Alkan worked with city staff to bring down the cost, reducing the leased land to 0.168 hectares, but $9,050 was the lowest it could come down to within the policy before it came back to council.

Council had sent the lease back to administration for a further review of potential options to reduce the proposed lease rate, but no change could be made without altering the policy.

Prior to voting in favour with the rest of council on the lease agreement, Coun. Ted Laking wondered about the impact of lowered lake levels if that is done to address flooding through the summer.

Mayor Laura Cabott argued questions and discussion around the bylaw at third reading need to focus on the lease itself and called the vote, with all council members voting in favour of the lease.

2021 budget funds moved to 2022

In a 6-1 vote, Whitehorse city council passed third reading of a bylaw to move more than $55 million from the 2021 capital budget to 2022.

The city moves money that went unspent in a year to the budget for the following year where projects are moving ahead to the new year. In some cases capital funds go unspent because they are part of multi-year projects.

There are also cases where projects have been delayed due to late contract awards, coordination and external approvals, or when goods have been ordered but have not arrived before Dec. 31.

Over the last two years, COVID-19 has also caused delays, it was noted in an earlier administrative report on the matter.

Coun. Ted Laking was the only member of council to vote against third reading of the bylaw to move the 2021 dollars to the 2022.

Before voting, Laking began by pointing to the rising costs of the proposed plans to build and renovate a new city hall. Most recently, bids on the project came in nearly $10 million over budget. City staff are currently assessing options for the project.

While Laking began highlighting the city hall project, Mayor Laura Cabott called on him to focus on the bylaw being considered.

She argued the bylaw was not focused on where the city hall project is going forward, but rather rebudgeting from last year to this year.

As the exchange between mayor and councillor continued, Laking argued he was speaking directly to the bylaw and said “it was very concerning” the mayor was trying to prevent debate while Cabott stated she was not cutting debate on the rebudgeting.

“Please keep your comments and discussion on that matter and not stray from it to get into details about where the city hall matter will be going into the future,” she said.

Laking wrapped up his comments by stating he would vote against third reading of the bylaw due to his concerns over the city hall project.

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