The City of Whitehorse will be taking over operation of the Robert Service Campground in 2018, says administration. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)

City of Whitehorse to take over operation of Robert Service Campground in 2018

Council mulls funding to design office/washroom building

The City of Whitehorse will be taking over the operation of the Robert Service Campground in 2018, says administration.

The popular summer facility has been leased out and privately run, although the city owns the land and infrastructure for the campground. The current lease expires Dec. 31, 2017, and the city will not be renewing it, said Linda Rapp, director of community and recreation services.

“In the upcoming summer months we are looking at operating that (campground) ourselves,” she said.

The present leaseholders are aware that the lease is expiring, she added.

The campground was recently the subject of debate between city council and administration. Staff asked council Dec. 4 to consider changing the scope of an already-budgeted repair project so that $90,000 in unspent funding meant to repair the infrastructure of facility could be be used to hire a consultant to create a concept design instead.

The city initially budgeted $125,000 to fix up the park in 2017, but only spent $35,000, mainly on repairs to the washrooms at the site.

Rapp said there had been a bit of confusion at the Dec. 4 meeting about what exactly that concept design was for. She clarified that it was not for the entire campground but rather for a new building “similar to” the Frank Slim building at Shipyards Park, which would combine the washrooms and office facilities. Those two elements are separate in the current design.

The office facilities are in poor shape, she said, and in need of $15,000 worth of roof repairs. The washrooms are not in much better shape but can “make it through for a few more seasons,” Rapp said.

When the city takes over the campground in 2018, staff will possibly be operating offices out of some kind of temporary facility, she said.

At the Dec. 11 meeting, Keith Lay of Porter Creek came to speak as a delegate. He took issue with the fact that the money allotted for repairs had not been used for that purpose.

“The question is why the was money was not used for its intended purpose, which was for campground building repairs,” Lay said. “The public pays taxes and is told for what these taxes will be used. When they are not used as intended, then the public should be provided with a complete and rational explanation as to the reason or reasons why.”

Lay went on to say he felt it was “late in the game” to be asking to change the scope of the project, calling a consultant “costly and perhaps unnecessary.” He called to have the $90,000 spent “for its original purpose” if the city wants to keep the campground “open next summer and have all its facilities function safely.”

Council approved the change of scope at the Dec. 11 regular council meeting. The full $90,000 is available, although staff say the design likely won’t cost more than $35,000.

“Thirty-five thousand dollars is quite a bit of money for a concept design in my experience, but that’s administration’s issue,” said Coun. Dan Boyd.

The remainder of the money will be re-budgeted for repairs in 2018, Rapp said.

The city will also be looking at eventually operating the campground year round, she said.

Contact Lori Fox at lori.fox@yukon-news.com

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