City of Whitehorse pushes ahead with plans for new operations building

The City of Whitehorse recently announced it's moving ahead with the building design and site preparation for its future operations building at the top of Two Mile Hill.

The City of Whitehorse recently announced it’s moving ahead with the building design and site preparation for its future operations building at the top of Two Mile Hill.

The project is part of the City’s plans to spend $56 million over the next two years to consolidate many of its existing buildings into two locations: a service building next to city hall and an operations building off Range Road on Two Mile Hill.

The City says the project should ultimately save money by shuttering old, energy-inefficient buildings and bringing most of its workers together under two roofs, rather than having them scattered in many downtown locations.

The announcement was made last Friday at the aging Municipal Services Building, where many of the city’s employees currently work.

That building is approximately 50 years old and houses eight departments. It consumes more energy than any other operations building and more than the 11 smallest city buildings combined.

The estimated cost of the new operations building, about $47 million, was also revealed last week for the first time. The rest of the $56-million budget, about $10 million, is going towards the future services building.

The City will be getting just over $15 million in federal gas tax funds for the building, meaning it’ll be on the hook for about $32 million.

The operations building will be home to transportation, equipment maintenance, engineering, traffic, environmental sustainability, water and waste, as well as some human resources staff.

Just under one-third of this year’s capital budget, or $5 million, has been allocated to the project. That will cover the building design and site preparation for this year, said Peter O’Blenes, director of infrastructure and operations with the City.

City officials should have a better idea of the cost once the design is finalized, which should be later this year, O’Blenes added.

Meanwhile, the future services building will be put on the back burner for the time being.

The City is looking at completing the design and site preparations this fall and winter, with construction scheduled to begin in April 2017, O’Blenes said.

It’s anticipated that city staff will be able to move into the new building in June or July 2018.

Potential future additions to the operations building, such as transit garages, could push the total cost to $73 million.

“We’re trying to minimize the amount of money we’re borrowing for this,” O’Blenes said.

“If other monies become available we’d want to look at expanding the operations building.”

The request for proposal for the design of the building has closed and an administration report will be presented to members of council at next week’s meeting. City council is also in the process of approving its lease for the land with the Yukon government.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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