Pillai plans to entice developers

In the face of the housing crisis, city Coun. Ranj Pillai wants to prevent projects from being buried by their power costs. "This is just one very small piece of the puzzle that I think we can address quickly," he said.

In the face of the housing crisis, city Coun. Ranj Pillai wants to prevent projects from being buried by their power costs.

“This is just one very small piece of the puzzle that I think we can address quickly,” he said.

Pillai wants to save contractors the cost of burying electrical lines when developing lots.

“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.”

The idea is a good one, said Rich Thompson, CEO of the Northern Vision Development Corporation.

For the company’s new Waterfront development, right beside Boston Pizza on Second Avenue, it will cost $400,000 to bury the overhead lines, he said.

“You’re talking about six or seven dollars a square foot on your land,” he said. “It’s definitely been one of the biggest factors in our decision to go, or no go, on the waterfront station project and it still hangs in the bounds right now.

“We’re not against the idea of burying the cables. But it’s a tough market to build in, costs are extremely high, building costs, labour costs, and this can be expensive. It becomes a barrier to building projects in the Yukon.”

Older projects have had the cost covered by the city, said Thompson. This creates an uneven playing field.

But the city has never paid to bury lines for private development, said Wayne Tuck, manager of engineering and environmental services with the town.

“Why would taxpayers pay to bury power lines on private property?” he said. “And (burying lines) is not across-the-board mandatory. It depends on what they’re doing, where.”

But Pillai isn’t suggesting taxpayers shoulder the cost.

He 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.

Usually, 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 a hard one 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 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,” he said. “It’s a start.”

The protocol of burying cable lines began in Whitehorse in the mid 1990s.

In large residential subdivisions, the territory fronts the bill and it is recovered in the cost of the lot, said Mike Gau, manager of planning and development services.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Chloe Tatsumi dismounts the balance beam to cap her routine during the Yukon Championships at the Polarettes Gymnastics Club on May 1. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Gymnasts vie in 2021 Yukon Championships

In a year without competition because of COVID-19, the Polarettes Gymnastics Club hosted its Yukon Championships.

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Yukon Budget 2.0

If the banks that finance the Yukon’s growing debt were the only… Continue reading

Yukon Supreme Court Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan dismissed an application on May 3 seeking more transparity on the territory’s state of emergency declaration. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Supreme Court rules confidential memo can’t be used in challenge of state of emergency

Court upholds cabinet confidentiality after request to use internal government memo as evidence.

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 7, 2021.… Continue reading

Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine minesite has created a mess left to taxpayers to clean up, Lewis Rifkind argues. This file shot shows the mine in 2009. (John Thompson/Yukon News file)
Editorial: The cost of the Wolverine minesite

Lewis Rifkind Special to the News The price of a decent wolverine… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: border opening and Yukon Party texts

Dear Premier Sandy Silver and Dr Hanley, Once again I’m disheartened and… Continue reading

Fire chief Jason Everett (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City launches emergency alert system

The city is calling on residents and visitors to register for Whitehorse Alert

Two young orienteers reach their first checkpoint near Shipyards Park during a Yukon Orienteering Association sprint race May 5. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Orienteers were back in action for the season’s first race

The Yukon Orienteering Association began its 2021 season with a sprint race beginning at Shipyards.

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its May 3 meeting and the upcoming 20-minute makeover.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister talks tourism in “virtual visit” to the Yukon

Tourism operators discussed the budget with Freeland

Polarity Brewing is giving people extra incentive to get their COVID vaccine by offering a ‘free beer’ within 24 hours of their first shot. John Tonin/Yukon News
Polarity Brewing giving out ‘free’ beer with first COVID vaccination

Within 24 hours of receiving your first COVID-19 vaccine, Polarity Brewing will give you a beer.

A Yukon government sign is posted to one of the trees that have been brought down for the sewer project in Riverdale explaining the project. The area is set to be revegetated with grass when it is complete. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Planned stormsewer outfall will improve drainage on Selkirk Street

Resident raises concern over clearing as council considers agreement.

Most Read