A Whitehorse city council meeting in Whitehorse on Oct. 5. The City of Whitehorse has unveiled its proposed capital budget for 2021 — totalling $30.9 million — with council members approving first reading for the spending plan Nov. 9. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

A Whitehorse city council meeting in Whitehorse on Oct. 5. The City of Whitehorse has unveiled its proposed capital budget for 2021 — totalling $30.9 million — with council members approving first reading for the spending plan Nov. 9. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

City would spend $30.9 million on capital projects in 2021

Capital budget focuses largely on new buildings

The City of Whitehorse has unveiled its proposed capital budget for 2021 — totalling $30.9 million — with council members approving first reading for the spending plan Nov. 9.

The city would spend $9.4 million from its own reserves in 2021 along with a further $21.5 million from external sources such as federal and territorial funds, provided approval for the external funding comes through.

The plan also sets out provisional capital spending plans into 2024 with the city expecting to spend $14.9 million in 2022, $4.5 million in 2023, and $4.4 million in 2024 on capital projects from its reserves.

A separate document shows the city plans to spend a further $26.9 million in 2022, $35.7 million in 2023 and $24.2 million in 2024 from federal and territorial funds, provided the funding from other governments are approved as planned.

“This budget will focus on facilitating and supporting growth in the community, whether it’s in transportation, environmental stewardship, infrastructure renewal, public safety or housing,” Mayor Dan Curtis said in his budget speech.

While there’s spending planned for various departments, much of the budget for 2021 focuses on infrastructure and the continued work to build a new city services building where the current city firehall now sits next to city hall. The city is just a couple of weeks away from opening the new downtown firehall that will replace it off Second Avenue, Curtis said in an interview following the council meeting.

There will also be a major retrofit to city hall and a new cenotaph on Steele Street in 2021.

“If 2020 was the year we completed the city’s largest capital project, the operations building on Range Road, then 2021 is the year we embark on the second-biggest,” the mayor said as he highlighted the $16.3 million that will go into the services building next year. A further $2.7 million would see the services building finished in 2022.

With staff moving from the city’s municipal services building on Fourth Avenue to the operations building and other locations around town, it’s anticipated the aging structure will be demolished with $500,000 identified for the demolition in 2021 and a further $2 million in 2022.

“The building is plagued with mechanical and structural issues, is significantly undersized for its current use, and has more than run its useful life,” Curtis said. “Its removal will reduce our corporate greenhouse gas emissions as we strive to make the city more environmentally friendly.”

The city is also planning another new building for the Robert Service Campground with $2.9 million identified for its construction in 2021.

Asphalt surfacing for Hamilton Boulevard, Fourth Avenue from Main Street to Black Street and at a number of roundabouts will cost $3.5 million.

A number of parks around town are expected to see new equipment upgrades and the like.

A $470,000 expansion to Grey Mountain Cemetery is also outlined in the plans for 2021 as the city continues to grow.

Funding is also identified for contaminated soil cleanup at Sixth Avenue, a move that could lead to more housing in the city, Curtis pointed out.

There’s also $250,000 identified for next year’s municipal election, with the city considering new ways to carry out the vote.

“A well-run election results in greater engagement among residents, reduces risks to the city and better serves our community,” Curtis said.

The plans would also carry forward the city’s planned redesign of its website with $115,000 identified for that project.

There’s a number of initiatives identified for work if funding from the territory and federal governments are approved such as pedestrian safety improvements in a number of school zones, energy upgrades to the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre, waste heat recovery work to the Canada Games Centre, installation of a biomass heating system at 139 Tlingit St. and improvements to the city’s bicycle network.

“The proposed budget advances key projects that continue to make the City of Whitehorse a great place to live, work and raise a family,” Curtis said. “It makes significant investments in our city’s aging infrastructure as well as ensuring that we maintain a healthy, stable environment.”

As is typically the case, there was no discussion among council ahead of first reading. Council traditionally adopts first reading of the budget to get the document to the public input stage. Then at second reading, council members discuss it in greater detail and may propose amendments or may vote against the spending plan if they disagree with it.

A public input session will be held at city council’s Nov. 23 meeting. A report on the input will then come forward at council’s Nov. 30 meeting with council expected to adopt the budget at its Dec.7 session.

Full capital budget details are available at whitehorse.ca/budget with residents invited to submit comments for the public input session at budgetinput@whitehorse.ca. Due to COVID-19, no in-person presentations can be made at the input session.

The city’s 2021 operating budget and provisional operating spending plan into 2024, which details any tax and fee changes for the coming year, is expected to come forward for adoption early in the new year.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Whitehorse city council

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