City will need to borrow $18.8 million for operations building

As Whitehorse City Council gets closer to deciding whether to approve money for the new operations building, councillors now have a better sense of how the project will be funded.

As Whitehorse City Council gets closer to deciding whether to approve money for the new operations building, councillors now have a better sense of how the project will be funded.

The $45.6-million building will be paid for with $11.6 million from the city reserves, $15.2 million in federal gas tax money, and $18.8 million borrowed from the bank, Valerie Braga, the city’s manager of financial services, told council Monday.

Braga presented a six-page financial report at the meeting. Council is slated to vote on the city’s 2017 capital budget, which contains the majority of the funds for the new operations building, next month.

“Funding for the operations building component as proposed has been financially planned for,” Braga said.

“An allowance has been made within the annual capital spending limits to pay the debt servicing costs and the project financing is not anticipated to cause any financial distress to the city.”

Paying off the debt is expected to cost the city no more than $1.5 million a year, she said.

That’s based on an expected five per cent borrowing rate, though the city has not been approved by a bank yet.

Unlike some conventional mortgages where rates could be lower but need to be renewed every few years, the city’s borrowing policy requires that it gets locked into a 20-year fixed rate mortgage, Braga said.

The plan is to eventually put out a request for proposals to see what rates are available, she said.

Braga’s report is the first time the city has publicly said how much debt it expects to take on to build the new operations building.

Other key numbers are still unknown.

“I do remain extremely concerned about the operating costs,” Coun. Dan Boyd said.

City staff have maintained that the operating cost for the new building won’t be known until the design is complete.

The new operations building will be bigger than the 50-year-old municipal services building and others it’s replacing, said Peter O’Blenes, the city’s director of infrastructure and operations.

Improved efficiencies means the energy costs will be lower per square metre than the old buildings but the total cost isn’t known yet, he said.

The old buildings cost about $500,000 a year to operate, said O’Blenes, if you include the amount of money that gets put into repairs.

A few members of council used their time questioning Braga to drop not-so-subtle hints reiterating where they stand on plans for the operations building.

Mayor Dan Curtis, who has been vocal in his support of the new building, confirmed if the city were to scrap the project and rent space for staff there would be no federal money to help cover those costs.

Boyd, who has expressed concerns about the project, later confirmed with Braga that gas tax money is not lost to the city if it doesn’t get spent on this building. It could be used for other things.

If it gets built, the new operations building won’t fit everyone. After being questioned by Coun. Rob Fendrick, O’Blene confirmed about 34 people won’t have an office when the new building opens.

Space will have to be leased for them over the next two or three years, he said, until the city’s new services building is built.

That building is expected to cost about $9.9 million, council heard. It’s expected to be completely funded with federal money through the Build Canada Fund.

Money for the services building is part of the city’s 2018, 2019 and 2020 budget projections.

The city has set aside about $197,000 a year between 2018 and 2020 to lease extra office space, according to budget documents.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

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

Just Posted

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Calvin Delwisch poses for a photo inside his DIY sauna at Marsh Lake on Feb. 18.
Yukoners turning up the heat with unique DIY sauna builds

Do-it-yourselfers say a sauna built with salvaged materials is a great winter project

Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

Yukonomist: School competition ramps up in the Yukon

It’s common to see an upstart automaker trying to grab share from… Continue reading

The Yukon government responded to a petition calling the SCAN Act “draconian” on Feb. 19. (Yukon News file)
Yukon government accuses SCAN petitioner of mischaracterizing her eviction

A response to the Jan. 7 petition was filed to court on Feb. 19

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Housing construction continues in the Whistle Bend subdivision in Whitehorse on Oct. 29, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Bureau of Statistics reports rising rents for Yukoners, falling revenues for businesses

The bureau has published several reports on the rental market and businesses affected by COVID-19

Council of Yukon First Nations grand chief Peter Johnston at the Yukon Forum in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. Johnston and Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn announced changes to the implementation of the Yukon First Nations Procurement Policy on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Third phase added to procurement policy implementation

Additional time added to prep for two provisions

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

Most Read