Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)

City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its Nov. 14 meeting and the upcoming public hearing on the city’s next Official Community Plan.

Environmental grants approved

Whitehorse city council has approved more than $24,000 in funding for bike maintenance, gardening and art projects in the city over the next year.

Council approved the annual environmental grants at its Nov. 14 meeting with the largest amount — $14,033 — going to the Raven Recycling Society for a project that has artists rethinking waste at the recycling depot through a residency program.

The Whitehorse Bike Kitchen Task Force will receive $7,925 for an active transportation project that will have experts teaching bike maintenance at no cost to participants, and the Heart of Riverdale Community Association will receive $2,082 for an after school and preschool food growing program.

Turning parking tickets into donations

The City of Whitehorse will once again challenge residents to risk getting a parking ticket ahead of the holiday season with the approval of the 2022 Food for Fines program.

Whitehorse city council approved the program at it’s Nov. 14 meeting.

The annual program sees parking ticket payments donated in the form of cash or food — equal to the value of the ticket — to community organizations.

This year, donations will go the Whitehorse Food Bank and Kaushee’s Place women’s shelter, as they have in years past, as well as the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre, which provides food and shelter to youth year-round. The initiative has also been extended from its usual one-week period to two weeks, given the increased demand the food bank is seeing this year.

Expired meter parking tickets issued between Nov. 26 and Dec. 10 will be deemed as eligible for the Food For Fines program with council approving a maximum $12,000 for the program.

Councillors Jocelyn Curteanu and Michelle Friesen both stated their support for the program ahead of the vote with Friesen also suggesting instead of using phrases about the program being for the less fortunate, it be stated that it is for those experiencing hardship.

Signing on to the Better Buildings program

Whitehorse property owners will get a new option for borrowing money to help make their buildings more energy efficient.

Whitehorse city council voted to sign on to the territory’s Better Building program at its Nov. 14 meeting.

The initiative provides loans for upgrades that help reduce energy consumption in a building.

Under the program, property owners can receive up to 25 per cent of a property’s assessed value to a maximum of $50,000 for residential and $100,000 for commercial buildings. Interest rates on the loans are kept at the Bank of Canada rate, the lowest in the country, currently at 3.75 per cent.

While the program is offered through the Yukon government, property owners must repay the loan amount through a local improvement charge (LIC) added to their annual property tax bill. That means property owners looking to borrow through the program must live in a municipality that’s signed on or own a rural property outside a municipality where property taxes are administered through the Yukon government.

With the city now signing on, Whitehorse property owners will be able to take advantage of the program.

“This is a very significant program,” Mayor Laura Cabott said before voting in favour.

Cabott and Coun. Ted Laking both noted the work that went into developing the program over the last year after issues were raised by municipalities when the territory first brought the program forward.

A working group was formed to look at the issues with municipalities receiving funding from the Yukon government to help cover the costs of administration. The City of Whitehorse will receive $500 per LIC each year to help with costs.

There’s also a provision for additional funds in cases of payment default, an adjustment of municipal remittance timelines and the ability to review the agreement after two years.

Laking described the arrangement as a good example of when speaking up can result in a better deal.

Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu also voiced her support for the program ahead of council’s vote.

Date set for OCP public hearing

If all goes according to plan, the second public hearing on the City of Whitehorse’s next Official Community Plan (OCP) will be held later this month.

The city released a notification on Nov. 15 advising of the public hearing at the Nov. 28 Whitehorse city council meeting.

The new date comes after council voted to delay the process when some changes to the updated version of the OCP, which acts as a guide to planning in the city, were not included in the second public hearing notice that had been scheduled for Nov. 14.

The changes are now included with the notice for Nov. 28.

A second public hearing was called due to substantial changes made following the first public hearing on the document that would set the vision for Whitehorse to 2040.

Among the changes made was the removal of a provision to study a potential road through the McIntyre Creek area, changes to building height limits, a study of short-term rental accommodations, the removal of potential development in an area near Tamarack Drive, and more planning to address increased traffic between the Porter Creek/Whistle Bend area and downtown via Mountain View Drive, Copper Road and Quartz Road.

Residents can speak at the hearing on Nov. 28 or, those wishing to provide written submissions, can email publicinput@whitehorse.ca

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