The new Whitehorse City Council is sworn in on Oct. 29. After lengthy discussion, city council passed the City of Whitehorse’s capital budget on Dec. 10. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)

City of Whitehorse capital budget passes

The capital budget got a second and third reading this week

The City of Whitehorse capital budget passed second and third reading on Dec. 10, but not without lengthy discussion.

Each member of council weighed in on the budget, which was announced Nov. 13. At the time, Valerie Braga, director of corporate services for the city, said the focus of the $29-million budget was on renewal.

Plans include fleet replacement, street reconstruction, and infrastructure upgrades.

Coun. Samson Hartland kicked off a 40-minute discussion of the budget by saying he supported it, but, he noted, it will be difficult for him to support future capital budgets without a completed asset management plan in place.

Such a plan is used to manage a city’s infrastructure assets. One is currently funded in the budget, which covers the years 2019 to 2022, at $100,000 per year.

“As an elected official I’d appreciate knowing that when I raise my hand in the air to support the capital budget, I know the information that we’re basing the decision on is the best that we can obtain, but also strategically takes into account all of our needs weighted against our current future liabilities,” said Hartland.

Coun. Dan Boyd agreed. He said it had crossed his mind to say no to any more large capital projects until an asset management plan is complete. However, he said, that’s not realistic (a new fire hall is the biggest item in the budget). Instead, he said he would like to see greater efficiency within firesmarting.

Coun. Jan Stick also touched on that point. She said that, in speaking with residents, the refrain that she hears is that residents don’t know what to do in the event of a massive wildfire. If there is a plan in place, they say they’d like to hear it.

Communication on this point is lacking, said Stick. Considering recent devastating fires in California and Fort McMurray, and the current low levels of snowpack in Whitehorse, she thinks the city needs to inform residents of plans around wildfire preparedness.

Coun. Laura Cabott also brought up the issue of wildlife/human conflict, saying there’s a lack of suitable bear-resistant garbage bins in the city, something WildWise Yukon spoke about to council multiple times in 2018.

Cabott said she’d like to see a plan that focuses on decreasing instances of wildlife and human interaction, by working with the Yukon government, but also by, for example, establishing robust bylaws around issues such as garbage collection.

Coun. Steve Roddick agreed that there could be more done in the areas of wildlife and human conflict. He went on to say he had looked at the budget with three questions in mind — does spending meet the needs of residents and advance their interests; does the spending get the best value for the money; will this serve the city in the long-term?

He said he was happy with the city’s commitment to transit improvements including digital fare payment and real-time transit data, but there are other areas that concern him.

“I’m generally concerned about our long-term planning and if the choices we’re making today are really in our long-term interests,” he said.

“To paraphrase a recent climate change report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we need to make rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in our energy systems, land use and urban planning if we are effectively going to cope with the impacts of climate change and position our city to thrive in a changing world.”

Roddick said the current budget aims to maintain systems in the city, but he wants to pay closer attention to making investments in systems that will allow the city to take advantage of those systems as things change.

Mayor Dan Curtis recognized that the budget is difficult to deal with. It’s not perfect, he said (he’d like to see it 10 times bigger), and it’s a daunting task to balance the needs of 30,000 people.

“Being on council is challenging, it’s difficult, it’s hard, it’s a learning curve, and it never gets easier,” said Curtis. “The longer you’re here, it seems, the more you recognize the less you know.

“Because there’s so many facets of our community, and needs of our citizens, and expectations of administration and council and citizens and businesses, it goes on quite a bit. But with that said, I just want to say that I think admin has done a tremendous job of being able to facilitate this capital budget.”

“I could sit here every single day and say I’d like the roads paved in gold but that’s not going to happen. So I’m going to work hard with my colleagues and with administration to see if we can kind of hone in and compromise as to what we think is the very best use of the limited resources that we have in terms of our capital, in terms of our operation budget, and recognize and be realistic …”

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited internet options beginning Dec. 1. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet for some available Dec. 1

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited… Continue reading

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Most Read