City unveils $55M plan for new municipal buildings

The City of Whitehorse plans to spend $55 million over the next three years to build itself two new headquarters for city staff.

The City of Whitehorse plans to spend $55 million over the next three years to build itself two new headquarters for city staff.

The plan, tabled by Mayor Dan Curtis at Monday evening’s council meeting, would eat up 70 per cent of next year’s $30 million capital budget.

It would result in a new city services building erected where the fire hall now stands on Second Avenue, along with a new operations building to be located near Range Road and Two Mile Hill.

The city says the plan, called the city’s Building Consolidation 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 services building would house human resources, parks and community development, corporate services and development services. The operations building would be the new home for fleet maintenance, waste and water services, utility systems, engineering, operations, transportation maintenance and traffic maintenance.

The new buildings will reduce costs, improve service delivery and make operations more efficient, Curtis said.

Construction could start in early 2016 and occupancy is planned for late 2017.

“There is a strong business case for this project and this is the right time to move forward,” Curtis said during his budget address.

The city says many of its departments are working in old and deteriorating buildings that are costly to operate.

“The current state of affairs demonstrates that existing buildings do not meet current building codes or energy codes and require major upgrades just to remain operational,” it states on its website.

“Buildings have lifespans and ours are well past theirs.”

According to a new city report, which can be found on the city’s website, the Municipal Services Building on Fourth Avenue is approximately 50 years old and houses eight departments.

It consumes more energy that any other operations building and more than the 11 smallest city buildings combined.

The Transit Services building on Tlingit Road, built in 1981, houses three departments and is considered to have insufficient vehicle parking and meeting room space.

The Animal Shelter building cannot be properly sanitized, its concrete floor is cracking and the building envelope doesn’t meet present standards.

The new buildings would be 80 per cent more energy efficient than the National Energy Building Code, the report states.

The city says that if it sticks with the status quo, it would cost 2.77 times the proposed plan over its 50-year lifespan, or the equivalent of a 23 per cent tax increase.

“It’s more cost-effective to tear down and replace some of our current buildings rather than try and repair or expand them to good working order so they can meet current and future needs,” the city states on its project website.

This project will not result in a tax increase, Curtis said on Monday.

Funding for the project is split three ways, with $6 million coming from the gas tax, $13 million from capital reserves and $2 million from financing.

Work for the project would be publicly tendered.

Other highlights of the 2015 capital budget include $750,000 towards odor mitigation and operational improvements to Livingston Trail Lagoon. Residents from Porter Creek and Whistle Bend have recently complained about the smell coming from the lagoon.

The city is also spending $370,000 on improvements to the Canada Games Centre, the Takhini Arena and the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre.

More than $500,000 in water, waste and road equipment will be purchased in order to deliver services to the Whistle Bend subdivision.

The city is holding a building consolidation open house on Nov. 19 and its capital budget input night is on Nov. 24.

A public input report will be presented to council on Dec. 1 and the second and third reading of the budget is scheduled for Dec. 8.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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