The City of Whitehorse presented a $29-million capital budget for the next four years, from 2019 to 2022.
“The capital budget’s the exciting one,” said Mayor Dan Curtis after the Nov. 13 regular council meeting where the budget was announced.
“Because it’s not like the operations and the maintenance (budget). It’s not going to be a big issue when it comes to our taxes, so it comes from reserves and it comes predominantly from the federal and territorial government, so it’s really a wonderful opportunity to improve the safety and the roads and infrastructure of our community but not really burdening the taxpayer as much as would have to happen if it was operations and maintenance.”
If a budget can have a theme, said Valerie Braga, director of corporate services for the City of Whitehorse, the focus of this one is renewal.
“If you look through all of the projects listed in both appendix A and B you’ll see that we’re replacing our fleet, we’re reconstructing out streets, we’re resurfacing our roads, we’re upgrading our facilities,” Braga told media during a briefing on the budget Nov. 13.
“And that we’re not, at this time, looking to necessarily take on new things. We’re looking to make sure that we can maintain the services to our citizens.”
The appendix A items, totalling $8.9 million for 2019, consist of projects in the budget that will be funded from the city’s own reserves. The remaining amount requires funding from the territorial and federal governments.
Projects were included on the list after being identified by different departments within the City of Whitehorse, and then ranked by a committee made up of representatives from various departments. Senior management then reviewed and adjusted that ranking.
Items on appendix A include traffic signals, bus repairs, and replacing playground equipment in parks, while items on appendix B include reconstruction of storm sewers, upgrades to Takhini Arena, and a heritage strategy review.
“We’re quite confident that we can do most of the projects, or pretty well all of the projects, if we get the funding,” said Peter O’Blenes, director of infrastructure and operations for the city.
“As far as getting the funding, a lot of those projects in there are gas tax. We do know how much we are going to get from gas tax from year to year.”
The biggest project in the budget is a new fire hall number one. Curtis said the location of the current hall is less than ideal. As well, he said, it’s not big enough for the number of people or the amount of equipment it houses.
The budget also allocates $10,000 in 2019 and $40,000 in 2020 toward a reconciliation project.
Mike Gau, director of development services with the City of Whitehorse, said the city will take its time working with the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council on the initiative.
“Essentially it’s working with the First Nations to come up with a plan to look at some renaming throughout the City of Whitehorse,” he said. “Where we might rename a park or a street or a significant landmark or feature in our city using Indigenous names.”
Gau said city administration will meet with and hear from elders in putting together a plan for council to consider.
There will be a public input session during the Nov. 26 council meeting, during which residents are encouraged to share their thoughts on the budget. The goal, said Curtis, is for the budget to receive second reading on Dec. 10.
The complete budget can be found online at whitehorse.ca/budget
Contact Amy Kenny at firstname.lastname@example.org