A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 28 meeting.

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 28 meeting.

City news, briefly

A water advisory and a look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 28 meeting.

Portion of Ear Lake Road closed

The City of Whitehorse has temporarily closed the western portion of Ear Lake Road until further notice.

In a June 29 statement, city officials said the closure is due to unstable slopes and potential for falling debris.

“The city is communicating with adjacent quarry holders and conducting an investigation into the slopes to determine appropriate mitigation measures,” the statement reads.

Ear Lake continues to be accessible and full access to the road will be restored as soon as possible. “We thank you for your patience and consideration during this period,” the city noted. “Further updates will be provided when available.”

Water advisory

Annual maintenance work to the City of Whitehorse water system is underway.

The work began June 30 and will continue until Sept. 30.

With the work set to include fire hydrant flushing and valve exercising at a variety of locations around town, it could disturb sediment, result in lower than normal water flow and fluctuating pressure. Residents are advised if tap water looks dark or cloudy, lines should be flushed for up to five minutes or until the water is clear. The city noted the water is safe to drink.

Once the maintenance work is done, the pressure and flow will go back to normal, the city said in a statement.

2020 financial statements approved

Whitehorse city council has approved the city’s 2020 financial statements, with $237,619 set to be moved from the water and sewer fund to the water and sewer reserves.

Council approved the financial statements and voted to move the water and sewer funding into the reserve at its June 28 meeting. The city ended 2020 with a surplus worth $512 million, though as it was noted in a staff report to council that the surplus is largely attributed to tangible capital assets, or assets the city owns, like roads.

“The city’s total reserve and general surplus levels are within acceptable ranges given the extent of the city’s overall financial framework,” Brittany Dixon, the city’s manager of financial services, stated in the report to council, which highlighted the more than $446 million in assets.

Bylaw would allow city to acquire well

The City of Whitehorse is moving closer to owning the land that houses its groundwater well on Selkirk Street, next to the Gadzoosda student residence, in Riverdale.

Whitehorse city council passed the first two readings of a bylaw for the city to take over ownership. Currently the city operates the well, which sits on the same property as the Gadzoosda student residence, under a license of occupation by the Yukon government.

“Acquisition of the land will secure the city’s tenure of Well 6 and there will be no cost to the city to acquire the land,” Kinden Kosick, the city’s subdivision and lands coordinator, said in a previous report to council. “As per section 78(1) of the Lands Act land regulations, administration is requesting this parcel be sold for nominal consideration ($1) as a public purpose parcel.”

Kosick also explained owning well properties is viewed as being better for the city for rights to access, maintenance and more.

Third reading of the bylaw is expected to come forward in July.

Budget change for services building approved

The City of Whitehorse has officially brought the budget for its new city hall/services building up $3.9 million to a total of $24.7 million.

Council passed third reading of the bylaw for the budget change at its June 28 meeting.

The plans would see the older section of city hall and the fire hall at the Second and Steele Street site demolished with a new services building/city hall and transit hub built by late 2023/early 2024. The newer section of city hall — built in 1987 — will remain, but there will be some renovations.

It’s expected Steele Street, from Second Avenue to Front Street, will be reduced to one-way only with the portion closest to city hall closed to allow for the building and a public area that will be landscaped. The city’s cenotaph will also be moved from Second Avenue to the Steele Street side with just one public entrance into the building on the Steele Street side.

The transit hub will be located on the Second Avenue side and allow for indoor seating and public washrooms. The plans are part of the city’s larger building consolidation project which is seeing city staff moved to new and renovated city buildings around town. It has also seen the opening of the operations building off Range Road, a new downtown fire hall and will see parks and recreation staff moved to the former transit building in Marwell. The city’s former fire hall at the city hall site is now closed, as is the Municipal Services Building on Fourth Avenue.

It became clear the project budget would have to increase earlier this year when it was learned there were structural issues with the older section of city hall, requiring demolition and a rebuild rather than renovations that had been envisioned for the project. Before voting in favour of third reading of the budget change, both councillors Laura Cabott and Steve Roddick noted that while they were supporting the budget change, they did note some concerns in that there was little public participation on the design of the new building.

Cabott said she would have liked to see the process to work on plans for the building begin sooner with Roddick also highlighting a tight timeline for the work.

As both noted though with federal and territorial funding in place that will pay for a significant portion of the project with the funding required to be spent by the end of 2023, it’s important to move forward.

“There are terms and conditions on this,” Cabott said.

It’s not perfect, but the benefits outweigh the cost, Roddick said, after also noting his support for the biomass heating system that will be used in the building.

Both councillors also stressed their appreciation to city staff for all the work that’s gone into the project and securing funding for it.

(Stephanie Waddell)

Whitehorse city council