City seeks clarity

At least one Whitehorse resident says the city's local improvement charges are not being applied equally to all. And the city admits he has a point. athan Millar and his Black Street neighbours will each have to pitch in about $11,000 for improvements to their road.

At least one Whitehorse resident says the city’s local improvement charges are not being applied equally to all.

And the city admits he has a point.

Nathan Millar and his Black Street neighbours will each have to pitch in about $11,000 for improvements to their road.

Many of these people don’t want all the city’s suggested improvements.

What they do want is better water pipes underneath the road, but the city says they can’t have the pipes without pavement, sidewalks, curbs and landscaping.

Those are the rules laid out by the Yukon Municipal Act, say city politicians.

The law also says the city can recover a portion of its costs through a local improvement charge assigned to the residents.

But the rules for when and how such a charge can be applied are foggy.

It’s something Millar has been noting from the beginning.

Now, despite the fact that council has approved the project, Millar still wants answers.

And Monday, he explained why.

Council has approved its 2011 to 2014 capital budget.

In it, there is $2.4 million to fix the road, sidewalks, gutters, sewers and curbs on Industrial Road from Two Mile Hill to Quartz Road. There’s no local improvement charge levied.

But it is the exact same work Millar and his neighbours are paying for on Black Street.

So why do Black Street residents have to pay but the property owners on Industrial Road don’t have to? he asks.

They are mainly businesses that demand good roads for the high volume of traffic they attract, whereas many Black Street residents like the nostalgic character their unpaved roads and boulevards create, he adds.

And he’s not finished.

In 2008, the city tried to impose an local improvement charge on the work on Industrial Road. A majority of property owners voted it down.

Now, three years later, it’s back on the table, but at no cost to the property owners.

“That is true,” says Robert Fendrick, director of administrative services. “Although they’ve been used a lot in Whitehorse, Mr. Millar makes a good point that we do not have established, documented criteria as to what qualifies a local improvement charge and what does not.”

But the municipal act gives city council the authority to do what it wants when it comes to assigning a local improvement charge or managing its other resources to pay for improvement work, he says.

When it comes to the local improvement charge requirements, if council considers the specific area will benefit more than the whole municipality, they can charge the affected landowners.

It was written into the act in 1998, so the law hasn’t changed since the city tried to charge Industrial Road residents in 2008.

But the town has changed, says Fendrick.

“I know it’s not a big period of time, but three years later, considering the increased traffic flow to the area and considering the increased traffic flow that will come as a result of Whistle Bend – which is very certain now that that’s going to happen – it was judged by administration and recommended by administration to be arterial in nature, meaning it’s going to benefit the community if that road is upgraded more than it’s going to benefit the abutting landowners,” he says.

“There’s no question the abutting land owners will benefit, it’s just a question who benefits more.”

Following Millar’s pointed questions, Fendrick has asked for research into the criteria other muncipalities have for local improvement charges.

It should be better documented and more transparent, he says, adding that it should even be accessible on the city’s website.

He hopes to bring forward better, clearer policy by the end of this fiscal year for council’s approval, he says.

If they don’t, the city will continue with the existing rule, which is a judgment call, he says.

“The system, really, right now, leaves it in council’s hands and if a future policy was brought forward, it would still be in council’s hands but there would be some criteria to measure it against,” he says.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

A Copper Ridge resident clears their driveway after a massive over night snowfall in Whitehorse on Nov. 2, 2020. Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for the Whitehorse and Haines Junction areas for Jan. 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Winter storm warning for Haines Junction and Whitehorse

Environment Canada says the storm will develop Monday and last until Tuesday

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

Most Read