Councillor Ranj Pillai wants to put some juice into solving the housing shortage.
Or, at the very least, cut the cost of the juice – giving contractors a deal on buried electrical lines that new downtown developments require.
“There can’t be any hidden costs,” he said about the incentive scheme. “Doesn’t matter if it’s high-end condos, doesn’t matter if it’s affordable housing, the utility lines have to be buried. There’s a significant cost.
“It’s a standard process, but with the cost of construction – in multi-residential especially – this cost dramatically affects the margins, meaning the profit, that people make.
“So if we can make it a brighter picture, to develop privately, then the end result is that there are going to be more people jumping into the arena of land development.”
Without identifying any specific company, Pillai did confirm private contractors in Whitehorse have identified this cost as an impediment to their work.
Pillai is talking to city managers right now and is also planning to contact Yukon Electrical Co. Ltd. with his idea to hold the cost and amortize it over time, most likely through property taxes paid by purchasers of the developed lots.
“This is brand new,” he said, adding that few other places offer this option.
Most commonly, as is the current case in Whitehorse, contractors simply include these costs in the overall price of the home, condo or apartment.
Which could still be offered as an option for purchasers, said Pillai.
But when it comes to non-profit initiatives, this cost can be even harder to handle, he said, mentioning the Northern City Supportive Housing Coalition and their plans for a 20-unit, wet shelter.
There are still a lot of details to work out, admitted Pillai.
But it’s a start, he said.
“This is just one very small piece of the puzzle that I think we can address quickly.”
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at firstname.lastname@example.org