A car is driven down Cook Street in Whitehorse on May 28, 2019. City of Whitehorse staff are recommending council move forward to the final two readings of a bylaw governing the proposed Local Improvement Charge. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Property owners vote for Cook Street improvement charge

Second and third readings to come forward June 10

With just three Cook Street property owners registering their opposition to a proposed local improvement charge (LIC), City of Whitehorse staff are recommending council move forward to the final two readings of a bylaw governing the proposed charge.

LICs are charges to benefitting property owners when surface work is done to a street. In this case the city is proposing to rebuild Cook Street from Fourth Avenue to the clay cliffs in 2020.

At council’s May 27 meeting, city engineer Taylor Eshpeter brought forward the recommendation and detailed the results of a vote showing three of the 41 impacted property owners opposed the LIC, with another 12 registering their support. A further 26 did not respond.

Coun. Steve Roddick acknowledged that some ballots may not have been returned as property owners knew unreturned ballots would be counted as a vote in favour, but he wondered about property owners who don’t live in the territory and asked how they were informed of the vote.

Eshpeter explained the city sent the notices out via registered mail so officials could determine who received the documents.

Along with the ballots being delivered by registered mail, the city also held a survey, meeting and public hearing on the proposal. Eshpeter emphasized the city followed all the necessary processes for an LIC outlined in the territory’s Municipal Act.

Under the act, if a majority of impacted property owners register ballots objecting to a proposed LIC it does not go ahead.

It’s expected this LIC would bring in $632,409 as part of the overall estimated $7.4 million cost. Residential rates would be set at $645.52 per meter of frontage with non-residential rates (which would apply to commercial properties) at $1,291.04 per meter of frontage. Finally government rates would be $1,936.56 per metre of frontage.

Payments would be amortized over 15 years, though property owners would have the option of paying it off sooner.

Along with sharing the results of the vote, Eshpeter pointed to concerns expressed by two residents at a public hearing around the impact of the cost to homeowners and the affect work could have on groundwater in the area as well as additional costs to property owners that would come with the requirement to install a recirculation pump in their homes.

Responding to concerns about water, Eshpeter said groundwater is an issue dealt with regularly in any downtown reconstruction project.

Looking at costs, he said the LIC policy would be applied as it has for other projects and the city adhered to timelines set out in the Municipal Act for getting replies to the proposed LIC.

He also said city staff followed up directly with the resident concerned about the cost of installing a recirculation pump.

“The extent of work can vary significantly depending on the location, orientation, and complexity of the internal plumbing,” he said of having a recirculation pump installed in a home.

Council will vote on whether to move ahead with the final two readings of the LIC bylaw at its June 10 meeting.

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

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