Hillcrest residents to vote on major improvement plan

The Hillcrest Community Association will go door-to-door to make sure people vote on improvements planned for the neighbourhood that could add more fees to their taxes.

The Hillcrest Community Association will go door-to-door to make sure people vote on improvements planned for the neighbourhood that could add more fees to their taxes.

The City of Whitehorse is planning $17 million worth of improvements to the neighbourhood over four years starting in 2018.

That includes installing new water and sewer mains, new hydrants and eliminating bleeders wherever possible to help save water. It would mean new asphalt for some roads and installing new sidewalks and multi-use paths.

Hillcrest’s roads and utilities were built in the 1950s. The improvements are important to the long-term sustainability of the neighbourhood, council heard March 20.

“Without these upgrades, failures are likely to increase and will be costly for property owners and the city,” according to a report to council. “The asphalt road surfaces have failed causing safety concerns and drainage issues.”

The city hopes the majority of that money — about $14.5 million worth — will end up coming from the federal Building Canada Fund.

Unless residents object, another $2.4 million would come from area homeowners through what’s known as a local improvement charge.

Local improvement charges have been used in Whitehorse for decades any time major work is planned.

The charge “recognizes that property owners do see a benefit when their infrastructure is upgraded so it is only fair that they should pay a portion of the cost in recognition of that benefit,” said Wayne Tuck, the city’s manager of engineering services, in an email.

The city calculates the average cost to build an urban road and then residents are made to pay a portion depending on the size of their property.

A document presented at the March 20 city council meeting shows residential property owners in Hillcrest could pay anywhere from a few thousand dollars up to more than $30,000 each.

The charge can be paid as a lump sum or in instalments over 20 years as part of their tax bill. Government and commercial properties pay more than residential ones.

Community Association president Shaunagh Stikeman said the board will not be taking a position on whether the project should proceed.

But she wants to make sure residents cast a ballot.

“Historically we are told that many residents don’t vote on local improvement projects, which is probably why local improvement projects always proceed,” Stikeman said.

“We as a community association are very committed to ensuring that the outcome of the vote reflects people’s true intentions rather than their failure to cast a ballot.”

The city’s rules say 50 per cent of people have to vote “no” in order for an improvement plan to be defeated.

Stikeman credited the city with meeting repeatedly to talk about the plans. But residents have raised concerns, she said, including the new improvement charges.

“There’s no doubt that this would cause undue financial hardship for property owners,” she said.

Other similar improvements, like work happening on Wheeler Street where the lots are smaller, have cost residents somewhere between $6,000 and $9,000 each, she said.

“Most people in Hillcrest don’t have an extra $15,000 to $25,000 sitting around for this kind of project.”

Stikeman acknowledged the city has been levying these kinds of charges for years, but said that’s not necessarily a reason for them to continue.

The charges would be “simply unaffordable” for people leaving on a fixed income, she said.

Tuck said it’s not as simple as asking the federal government for more money to pay the costs that residents don’t want to cover.

Residents benefiting from this type of work are always required to pay a share.

Stikeman said residents also have concerns about the city’s plan to remove some bleeders to save water. It’s not clear how much water that will actually save, she said.

“(Saving water) is a lofty goal. We all want to save water. However, less than half of the properties in Hillcrest would have their bleeders eliminated under the project.”

A few roads are also slated to to be realigned. Dalton Trail and Park Lane would be shifted as much as two metres to one side in some spots, she said.

“While the road currently sits at a roughly equal distance from the buildings on either side, the two-metre shift would give the appearances of the road being off-centred,” she said.

“This could also negatively impact properties on one side by reducing their front yard significantly.”

Tuck told council the roads currently have one side that is right up against the property line and are further away from the property line on the other side.

That isn’t safe or effective if city staff ever needed to work on the roads, he said.

In the end the final decision on whether to move forward with the plans will be up to Hillcrest residents. Ballots will be mailed out March 31 and need to be completed by May 9.

The association will be going door-to-door to make sure people are aware of what’s going on and to see if they have any more questions, Stikeman said.

Residents can also have their questions answered at a public hearing May 8, the day before the ballots are due.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speak at a COVID-19 update press conference in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. On Nov. 24, Silver and Hanley announced masks will be mandatory in public places as of Dec. 1, and encouraged Yukoners to begin wearing masks immediately. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Masks mandatory in public places starting on Dec. 1

“The safe six has just got a plus one,” Silver said.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read