A portion of Whitehorse City Hall would be demolished if plans proposed to council April 6 move forward.
The plans are a “change of scope” for the project to retrofit city hall and construct a services building and transit hub at the Second Avenue/Steele Street site.
The fire hall at the location is already slated for demolition as part of the project. A new downtown fire hall opened in 2020 off of Black Street to replace the structure.
Wayne Tuck, the city’s senior projects engineer, stated in a report to council at its April 6 meeting that as planning for the project has moved forward, they have learned that significantly more structural work to the older portion of city hall would be required than originally thought to bring it up to current building codes.
The section is west of the Steele Street entrance towards Second Avenue. For those entering from Steele Street, it means turning left as you enter the older part of city hall. It includes a number of offices, the front counter, public washrooms and the pioneer heritage room, senior project engineer Wayne Tuck explained. It is the original city hall building that was constructed in 1966.
The newer section of city hall, built in 1987, would see renovations. That section also includes a number of offices (including the mayor’s), board rooms and council chambers.
Possibilities considered included a full renovation at city hall; putting a steel structure in place to encapsulate the 1966 addition to the building while minimizing changes to the building layout; or demolishing the 1966 section of the building to build a new two-storey structure.
The demolition and building of a new structure for that section is anticipated to have the smallest budgetary impact. The work is still expected to be $3.5 to $4 million over budget, but the other two options would have been another estimated $2 to $3 million beyond that.
“By proceeding with the option to demolish the 1966 city hall, the city would be changing the scope of the project from the original plan of renovating city hall that has now been determined to have a much higher cost above the approved capital budget,” Tuck said. “This new design option is the only one that will have the ability to meet the project schedule with a tender to be issued for August 2021 and a scheduled completion date by the fall of 2023.”
The timelines are attached to funding totalling $15.7 million approved from the territorial and federal governments for the project.
A number of council members expressed concern over the substantial cost increase, with Coun. Laura Cabott questioning whether changes could be made to the design to fit it into the city’s original budget.
Tuck noted, however, redesigning the project would require spending more on design work.
Council will vote on whether to change the project on April 13.
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