Whitehorse city council approved the final two readings of the proposed $30.9-million capital budget for 2021 during the Dec. 7 council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Whitehorse city council approved the final two readings of the proposed $30.9-million capital budget for 2021 during the Dec. 7 council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Council approves 2021 capital budget

City will spend $30.9 million

Whitehorse city council has approved the proposed $30.9-million capital budget for 2021.

Council passed the final two readings of the spending plan at it’s Dec. 7 meeting.

The plan will see the city spend the $30.9 million set out and provided external funding approvals come through, a further $21.5 million would be spent.

The budget 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 is approved as planned.

Council members were unanimous in voting in favour of the budget with a few vocalizing their support.

Coun. Steve Roddick noted that this is the first budget the city has passed since a workshop was held focused on the climate change emergency declared by council in 2019.

The budget, he stressed, includes “significant investment” to improve emissions from city buildings and make it easier for residents to use active transportation through improvements to bike lanes and the like.

“I think there’s a lot of wins in this budget,” he said, acknowledging as well that a number of people would like to see more in the budget to address climate change.

He said that while he too would like things to move faster, it’s also important to ensure there’s capacity and resources to do the work. He highlighted the potential for biomass heating at the city’s operations building, noting that the city will focus on smaller biomass initiatives before considering it for the larger operations building.

Roddick said he believes this budget will have a number of wins while also setting the city up for “transformative change” into the future.

Coun. Laura Cabott stated her agreement with Roddick, going on to highlight a number of initiatives outlined in the budget that will benefit the city: $520,000 for crosswalk work in front of several schools, $650,000 for improvements along Schwatka Lake, and work to a number of roads.

Coun. Samson Hartland also pointed to the Schwatka Lake improvements that will see seven new dock sites as well as parking improvements. He commented there’s “a lot of great things in (the) plans”.

Much of the budget for 2021 also 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.

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

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

The budget also outlines 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 will 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, Mayor Dan Curtis has previously pointed out.

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

The plans will 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 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 Street and improvements to the city’s bicycle network.

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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