Whitehorse city council is considering moving forward with the procurement for the expansion to the city’s operations building. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)

Whitehorse city council is considering moving forward with the procurement for the expansion to the city’s operations building. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)

Operations building expansion put to council

Offices would add another 1,505 square metres to structure

A contract for the expansion of the City of Whitehorse’ operations building could be in place in May.

Peter O’Blenes, the city’s head of property management, brought forward a recommendation at Whitehorse city council’s Jan. 23 meeting to move ahead with the procurement to design and build the new office section proposed for the building.

The expansion comes following the city’s decision in 2022 to cancel a project that would have seen significant building and renovation to Whitehorse City Hall. A transit hub was also proposed for the new structure.

When the lowest bid on the new city hall was $10 million over the $26.2 million budget, the project was cancelled and officials began looking at adjusting plans.

As O’Blenes stated in his report to council: “The expansion will accommodate approximately 60 City of Whitehorse office staff who are temporarily located in leased facilities or city buildings that are nearing the end of their life cycle.”

Work is also underway to look at repurposing the former fire hall on Second Avenue, next to city hall, as the transit hub that would provide a heated space and accessible washrooms, and for energy upgrades to be done at city hall. In addition to approving going to procurement on the operations building expansion, O’Blenes is recommending the plans be divided into three separate projects. Procurements for the other two projects — energy upgrades to city hall and the transit hub — would come forward at a later date, possibly in March.

Speaking to the operations building, O’Blenes pointed out the building, which opened in 2020, was designed to allow for future expansion with capacity built into the mechanical and electrical systems. Washrooms and the lunchroom were also sized and located with the possibility of future expansion in mind.

“The (operations building) location is centrally located in Whitehorse with easy access and parking for the public,” O’Blenes said. “Having various departments at the same location reduces unnecessary travel to multiple city sites.”

The cost of the project, which would add another 1,505 square meters to the existing 14,450 square metre operations building, is estimated at $15.25 million, leaving $8.39 million for the energy upgrades to city hall and another $900,000 for the transit hub.

During council discussion, Mayor Laura Cabott noted the work that went into coming up with an alternative plan.

“I do want to commend administration on being very hardworking, flexible, innovative, engaging some outside consultants to help us figure out how we could meet all of those requirements and needs that we wanted to fulfill, but not doing it in this original building that we wanted to,” she said, going on to ask O’Blenes if staff are confident there is capacity in the local construction industry for the three projects to be done.

O’Blenes replied in the affirmative, though he also explained the city would space the work out with the transit hub and city hall projects expected to be about six months behind the operations building work.

Council will vote on whether to separate the projects and move forward with the procurement for the expansion of the operations building at its Jan. 30 meeting.

If approved, procurement documents would then be released. It’s expected a contract would be in place in May. Work would begin on the design with construction expected to begin in April 2024 and finished in December 2025. While O’Blenes’ reported total completion isn’t expected until November 2026, he explained the period between substantial performance and total completion would be for the one-year warranty period on the new part of the building.

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