Crews work on the main entrance exterior of the new operations building off Range Road in Whitehorse on August 14. The city confirmed on Dec. 18 that the building completion is behind schedule. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

More delays for Whitehorse’s city operations building, with opening now pushed to February

Completion is now anticipated for February. Staff move-in will take longer

City of Whitehorse staff who are set to move to the new operations building off Range Road will be waiting months into the new year.

Peter O’Blenes, the city’s director of infrastructure and operations, confirmed in a Dec. 18 interview that mechanical work (such as for the heating and sprinkler systems) is taking longer to finish than originally anticipated, resulting in the delay. He pointed out the mechanical systems of the 11,567-square-metre building impact the overall completion and the $45 million building project is a complex building project.

“A lot of these things are tied in together,” he said.

The building that will house the city’s operations, engineering, water and waste services, human resources, engineering and transit departments had originally been expected to finished Jan. 31, 2019, but in August 2018 contractor Ketza Construction informed the city it could not meet the deadline due to 200 change orders made to the project by the city.

It had then been anticipated the building would be finished by mid-September 2019.

The city now expects substantial completion around the end of February 2020. As O’Blenes explained, substantial completion means the keys are turned over to the city and the building is complete though there may be a few minor details to be dealt with. It’s similar to moving into a house and noticing you want a baseboard painted differently, he said.

The most recent delay, O’Blenes said, is not costing the city any extra money, though the change orders did result in Whitehorse city council approving another half million dollars on spending earlier this year.

While the city anticipates getting the keys early next year, exactly when staff would begin moving is unclear.

The spring is set to be busy with staff from all departments focused on the hosting of the Arctic Winter Games in March, O’Blenes said.

The early part of the year can also prove to be a busy time for the operations department depending on snow fall, and then snow melt as the weather warms.

And then there are the logistics to be worked out — like figuring out where muster points will be and how space will be shared among the various departments. This will mark the first time for the transit department to share building space with other departments, O’Blenes said.

In total there will be more than 100 city staff working out of the operations building with officials planning to take a phased-in approach to moving staff there.

In the meantime, construction is continuing on the city’s new downtown fire hall also being built by Ketza.

That project remains on schedule and is anticipated to open in 2020.

Both the operations building and the construction of the new fire hall are part of the city’s building consolidation effort happening over the next few years.

Along with the operations building and new firehall, the work will see changes to the current Second Avenue site of city hall and current downtown fire hall. A major retrofit will happen at city hall with a new services building added to the site along with a transit shelter.

The Municipal Services Building on Fourth Avenue (currently housing engineering, land and building services, operations, planning, and water and waste services) is set to be closed and eventually the site sold after workers move to their new locations.

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

Whitehorse city council

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