City news, briefly

Some of the discussions from the Nov. 18 Whitehorse city council meeting

Ushiku exchange off until 2021

The 2020 Summer Olympics is putting on hold the annual youth exchange between Ushiku, Japan and Whitehorse.

Officials with both sister cities agreed to postpone the exchange in light of the Olympics happening in Tokyo, 50 kilometres south of Ushiku, next summer, Krista Mroz, manager of recreation and facility services, told Whitehorse city council Nov. 18.

The annual exchange has taken place since the 1980s, alternating between an Ushiku delegation coming to Whitehorse and a Whitehorse delegation going to Ushiku. Each exchange saw the visiting group stay with local families.

The 2020 exchange would have seen a delegation of Whitehorse youth ages 13 to 18 travel to Ushiku.

The Olympics — running from July 24 to Aug. 9 — have an impact on travel logistics, school schedules in Ushiku and the availability of host families before, during and after the Olympics, Mroz said.

Whitehorse will send students to Ushiku in 2021.

With 2020 marking the 35th anniversary of the exchange, Mroz said Whitehorse will make a point of organizing a small celebration. The event has not yet been scheduled, she said.

Whitehorse considers spending $200K on printers and maintenance

MRG Technologies could be awarded two contracts worth $229,000 for the supply and maintenance of printers for the City of Whitehorse.

City staff are recommending council approve a contract worth $130,000 to replace the city’s current printers in three periods beginning in December, then in March 2020 and March 2021.

The service contract would be for three years at $33,000 per year.

MRG Technologies was one of two firms to submit proposals with the other coming from Klondike Business Solutions. MRG ended up with the highest scoring proposal in an evaluation that looked at qualifications, service proposal, additional services, implementation and price.

Council will vote on the contracts Nov. 25.

Council considers selling land for driveway access

Whitehorse city council is once again considering selling a small five-metre strip of land between Falcon Drive and the property bordering it.

Council members had deferred selling the public utility lot to the owners of 2 North Star Drive in September while officials looked at the possibility of an easement being granted for the property owners to use to access their property.

The owners had built a garage with doors facing out to the Falcon Drive side of the property. When it became clear which way the garage doors were oriented, a stop work order was put in place and the owners began pursuing purchasing the small section between their property and the road to allow access from Falcon.

City staff is now recommending the sale of the land.

“A land sale would provide the most security of tenure for the owners, and would eliminate the administrative burden of managing an ongoing encroachment agreement,” Pat Ross, the city’s manager of land and building services, said.

“The desire for access to the property from Falcon Drive, where proper access to the lot already exists from North Star Drive, should not be facilitated by way of easement as it would set an undesirable precedent from administration’s perspective.”

Council will vote Nov. 25 on whether to move forward with the bylaw that would allow for the sale of the land.

New leases proposed for Shipyards Park buildings

The Yukon Film Society and Yukon Literacy Coalition could be hanging on to their Shipyards Park homes until 2024 if council approves two bylaws for the lease agreements.

Leases for both Pioneer Hotel 1 (Jenni House) and Pioneer Hotel 2 (Hatch House) expired earlier this year, land and building services manager Pat Ross told council Nov. 18. The organizations stayed on through an over-holding provision in the lease agreements.

The film society has been based out of the Jenni House with the literacy coalition using the Hatch House to deliver summer programming.

Ross didn’t recommend the leases go out for proposals as there haven’t been much interest in the buildings in the past aside from the two groups. Each have proven to be good tenants, showcasing the history of the waterfront as part of their programming, he said.

“Based on the historically low interest in leasing these buildings and the demonstrated programming successes and cooperation between (the two groups),” he said. “Administration is recommending extending the leases with (the groups). Both have proven to be excellent tenants and are positive contributors to the community.”

Coun. Laura Cabott, however, suggested there may not be a lot of interest in the buildings because those interested don’t know that the leases ended this year.

Recognizing the need of the two groups, she questioned whether a short-term one-year agreement could be drawn up for the film society and literacy coalition to keep the spaces for a year with a plan for the city to put out an RFP for prospective tenants for the following year in an effort to a more transparent process.

Ross said that’s something staff could look at, but it will ultimately be council’s direction.

Council may determine that direction Nov. 25 when members are slated to vote on whether to move forward with the bylaw for the two lease agreements.

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