Heather Kennedy was one of two delegates to address Whitehorse city council on May 6 regarding the plans for Cook Street upgrades. Kennedy said that she, along with other residents she spoke with, need more time to contemplate the proposed charges. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Residents need more time to consider local improvement charge, council is told

Some residents spoke out during a public hearing

Property owners on Cook Street need more time to contemplate a proposed local improvement charge (LIC) and what that will mean for them in the coming years, council was told at a May 6 public hearing on the proposed charge.

Heather Kennedy was one of two delegates to address council on the plans for Cook Street and the potential LIC.

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, including underground utilities, from Fourth Avenue to the clay cliffs.

It’s expected that the LIC would bring in $632,409 as part of the overall total of $7.4 million.

Right now property owners have until May 21 to submit ballots stating if they are opposed to the LIC. If 50 per cent plus one or more vote against it, the LIC does not go ahead.

“Myself and some neighbours need more time,” Kennedy said.

She argued not everyone on Cook Street can afford the charge of $645.52 per meter of frontage for residential property owners. For many that’s close to $10,000 that would be paid over the 15-year amortization period, costing residential owners more than $1,000 per year.

Along with the cost are concerns over how construction could impact ground water issues in the area, Kennedy said, highlighting problems she’s already had over the years when construction work has been done nearby.

With no design in place yet, it’s difficult to provide support for the project, she said.

While she also expressed concerns around the price changing, director of development services Mike Gau assured her that should the LIC bylaw be passed it would not increase as the bylaw would prevent that.

“The numbers you have been given are solid,” he said.

If anything, the only change property owners would see is a decrease in the bill if the city is able to get a lower interest rate than what has been estimated now at more than six per cent.

Gau also confirmed there is not any sort of detailed design — which would only be done if the project is confirmed to go ahead — but redesign work has been done and the city is confident in the estimates based on the redesign.

Elizabeth Ryan, another resident who would be impacted, expressed concerns as well over the additional costs that would come with the improvements, as residents would also be required to install recirculation pumps into their homes.

Looking into those costs, she said she’s learned the initial price of the pump is $500 with installation being anywhere between $1,500 and $2,500.

She wondered, “If anybody can explain to me why it costs so much.”

A staff report on the public hearing will come forward May 27. Council is expected to vote on the second and third reading of the LIC June 10.

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

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