The City of Whitehorse is set to assume greater control over the design and construction of infrastructure projects within city limits.
On Monday evening, council members voted in favour of signing a memorandum of understanding with the Yukon government for a trial run to oversee the land development of Whistle Bend Phase 3.
As it stands, the territorial government is responsible for the design and construction of infrastructure, which it transfers over to the city after completion.
But it wants to focus its infrastructure resources outside Whitehorse, while the city wants to have more say on what is built locally.
The first major take over of work would happen in the early 2016 budget year, according to Mike Gau, director of development services.
Councillor John Streicker said this is really about the city maturing as a government.
“As the government tries to downsize that department it was smart to try this now, and the logical place is one of the Whistle Bend phases,” he said.
“We’ve just completed Phase 2 and Phase 3 is set to start soon. It’s among the biggest developments going on in the territory right now.”
He explained that the city would foot the bill for the development of infrastructure and recoup the costs by selling lots in the neighbourhood.
But it would take a while to break even, he said, so the government has agreed to help the city financially in the meantime.
“The city likes doing this because what happens now is we get to be the watch dog,” he said.
“Under the old model, the government would issue the development contracts and the city would send engineers to oversee the project. Now it’ll be our job to watch – it’ll be more streamlined.
“We’re the owners and we’re issuing the bids working directly with the contractors. We can set our own standards.”
For example, the city might have concerns about accessibility at a particular intersection.
With this agreement, it won’t have to go back and forth with the government to negotiate a design change.
It also ensures the government doesn’t hand over any deficient infrastructure, Streicker said.
“It’s a big step for us but we don’t have the full experience, so we’re just going to kick the tires on this to see how it goes,” he added.
“With this agreement we’ll work out some of the bugs. It’s just a trial run but it’s intended to go the whole way.
“We’ll see how it goes and adjust the agreement accordingly at the end (of Phase 3) to make sure it gets better for both sides.”
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