Downtown residents call for repairs to Sixth Avenue

Whitehorse's Sixth Avenue is "crumbling" according to members of the Downtown Residents Association, who say the city has been putting off repairs to the road for years.

Whitehorse’s Sixth Avenue is “crumbling” according to members of the Downtown Residents Association, who say the city has been putting off repairs to the road for years.

David MacLellan and Nathan Millar addressed members of city council at Monday evening’s meeting.

The delegates talked about four resolutions the association recently passed at its annual general meeting, including one to reconstruct Sixth Avenue in 2016.

“For those of us who live downtown we think it’s a high priority,” Millar said. “It’s fair to say it’s crumbling.”

Speeding and traffic issues have also been a problem over the years.

A traffic circle that was put in at the intersection of Black Street and Sixth Avenue has slowed motorists down, he said, but some still speed along Sixth to avoid traffic on Fourth Avenue.

“We feel upgrading the road would help deal with that issue,” he said.

“It would also help if pedestrian crossings were upgraded too by putting bulbs at intersections.”

Curb extensions, also known as bulb-outs, are a traffic calming measure that extend the sidewalk and reduce the crossing distance for pedestrians.

According to Millar, the City has drafted plans to carry out repairs and renovations to the road over the past few years.

But with every new capital budget, the plans get postponed.

According to the 2013 capital budget, $200,000 was set aside for “preliminary work” on the reconstruction of the road, and $2.5 million was allocated for 2014.

In the 2014 budget, $2.7 million was set aside for 2015. And in the 2015 budget, $3,080,000 was set aside for 2017.

But so far, no amount has been allocated in the draft 2016 budget, released at last week’s meeting.

“The street is in need of urgent safety and infrastructure upgrades,” Millar told members of council. “We’d like to see it included in next year’s budget.”

Mayor Dan Curtis told MacLellan and Millar he felt some frustration from their end.

He asked them if they knew how the city’s infrastructure projects were funded.

“Are you aware that what the city does is present for Building Canada (funding) for infrastructure projects?” he said.

“It gets vetted through the territory or province and it comes back as to which they’ve seen as a priority, not necessarily what we’ve seen as a priority. So your priorities could very much be in line with this council’s.

“It’s not really our prerogative to say where that money (allotted to Whitehorse) goes.”

Millar said he was surprised by Curtis’s answer.

“It’s the first time I’d heard that,” he said.

“It did highlight that maybe there’s a bit more communication around how this process works that could be useful to residents.”

A public input session for next year’s capital budget is scheduled for Dec. 14, starting at 5:30 p.m. at city hall as part of the regular council meeting.

The public input report will be presented to city council on Jan. 4.

Second and third reading of the capital budget bylaw is scheduled for Jan. 11.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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