City releases 2010 capital budget

The city of Whitehorse is pumping millions into city sewer and waterworks. Monday evening, city council presented its municipal capital budget for the next four years. The city plans to spend almost $15.5 million in 2010.

The city of Whitehorse is pumping millions into city sewer and waterworks.

Monday evening, city council presented its municipal capital budget for the next four years.

The city plans to spend almost $15.5 million in 2010 and more than $45 million over the next four years.

It breaks down like this:

Between 2010 and 2013 the city will pour $17 million into its water infrastructure.

The biggest chunk will go towards upgrading the Selkirk water pumphouse. The retrofit will leave the city with a $7.4 million tab spread out over three years.

The pumphouse hasn’t been upgraded since the 1950s and its puny pumps can’t meet city demands.

The building will be upgraded to become earthquake proof and more energy efficient, said engineering manager Wayne Tuck.

The plan is to build something that will last another 50 years, he added.

The city will also spend 3.5 million to double the capacity of its Porter Creek reservoir. And $3.3 million will go towards a citywide water-metering program that will promote water conservation and lower city operating costs, Mayor Bev Buckway said in her budget address.

There’s little glitz or glamour in the budget, nothing approaching a Canada Games Centre or public safety building.

“I consider it a pretty typical four-year plan,” said administrative services director Robert Fendrick.

“It’s a back-to-basics budget.”

Additional expenditures include $3.5 million for the expansion of Takhini North. The city will borrow this money.

“In Takhini we’re anticipating selling lots off fairly quickly, which will minimize any interest-carrying costs,” said Fendrick.

“We’ve invested heavily in Takhini North and the motorways properties and we’re not anticipating to sell them at below-market levels.”

In September, the city announced it would see an almost $500,000 year-end deficit. At the time, officials blamed the city’s inability to sell waterfront land, like its Motorways property, among other factors for the deficit.

However, the deficit was wiped out by a flurry of tickets.

In the second half of the year, bylaw issued more than $800,000 in fines and parking tickets, enough to cover the deficit.

“That money will fill our budget gap so I feel like we’re in good shape,” said Fendrick.

Additional expenditures in the 2010 capital budget include $3.6 million for asphalting sections of the downtown and Range Road.

The city also wants to spend $125,000 on a downtown parking study to examine demand for downtown parking; the adequacy of current zoning bylaw requirements and the feasibility of a park-and-ride system.

The money will come from the city’s parking reserve fund and will be a more “holistic” analysis than previous parking studies, said Fendrick.

The city is also proposing to spend $100,000 studying the Alaska Highway corridor, industrial land demand in the city and the potential of turning McLean Lake into a residential area.

The city will also spend $20,000 on a downtown amenities study to explore putting public washrooms along the riverfront, said Fendrick.

Over the next years the city will spend $160,000 on security cameras for city utility stations.

In 2010 the city will spend $175,000 to upgrade the city’s animal shelter to prevent the spread of parvo.

And $1.5 million will be spent widening the sidewalks on the Robert Campbell Bridge from 1.6 to 2.4 metres, giving cyclists their own lane, said Buckway.

An additional $340,00 will be spent to upgrade sidewalks and lower curbs so that they’re more accessible to people with disabilities.

The amount of taxes citizens will pay in 2010 won’t be pinned down until the city releases its operating budget in the new year, said Fendrick.

The capital budget can be picked up at the city. There is a public input session scheduled for January 11th.

On January 18th, the city will give its report from the public-input session and will pass the budget a week later on the 25th.

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com