Riverfront construction underway

Whitehorse is proceeding with Riverfront infrastructure work down First Avenue between Strickland and Ogilvie streets.

Whitehorse is proceeding with Riverfront infrastructure work down First Avenue between Strickland and Ogilvie streets.

After delays caused by a late thawing of the ground and contracting setbacks, workers from Norcope Enterprises are getting their hands dirty deep beneath the area designated for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Canada Winter Games in February.

Water, sewer and electrical work is expected to be complete by August, according to the city engineering services manager Wayne Tuck.

A bid for the above-ground work, including street paving, sidewalks, lights, parking, and landscaping will be awarded by council in a couple of weeks.

After the Canada Games, the area will be developed as mixed residential-commercial.

“This will be the last main area of new land being developed downtown,” said the  administrative services director Robert Fendrick.

The addition of residential housing is key, he said.

“We’re trying to avoid the area turning into a ghost town after five o’clock in the evening.”

The First Avenue development, to be completed in the fall, is part of $19-million worth of Riverfront infrastructure improvements by the city.

The costs are being shared by the federal and Yukon governments.


Subdivision dispute resolved

A dispute between Crestview resident Brian Cox and the city over who should pay for a new sanitary sewer system has been resolved.

Cox submitted an application last year to subdivide his lot at 101 Rainbow Road, but the city refused to approve it until he agreed to replace a communal lift station — used to bring residential sewage up to the main sewage line — with two new septic grinder pumps for each new subdivision.

A dispute ensued over whether the grinder pumps were necessary and who would be responsible for the bill.

The situation was resolved when a property owner from across the street, using the same lift station as Cox, also applied for a subdivision.

The city decided it was cheaper to make upgrades to the lift station than build four new grinder pumps, and agreed to cover the costs for this procedure.

“Basically the city took a second look at it and reversed their position,” said city manager Dennis Shewfelt.


Digging into reserves for wells

The Yukon government wants the city to stop using the Yukon River to top up water supplies, acting director of operations Brian Crist said this week.

Strict new guidelines for drinking water quality laid out by Ottawa reveal that turbidity levels of surface water make it unsafe to drink.

“The turbidity is no worse than it was five or 10 years ago, but the tolerance for turbidity within the guidelines has changed,” said Shewfelt. “The measuring standards have become more stringent.”

Currently, water provided to Whitehorse residents from underground wells does not meet daily demands and, therefore, surface water from the river is mixed in to cover the shortfall.

A new well built near Selkirk Elementary School would cover the deficit, but more money is needed for a pumphouse and pipeline to connect the well to the system.

The city is expecting to receive $1.45 million from Ottawa to cover the cost of the Selkirk well as well as the development of more wells in Riverdale to meet increased future water demands.

However a sustainability study is required before the funds can be transferred.

The study, which involves a series of public consultations, is expected to take at least a year and a half to complete.

Money will be skimmed from the city’s water and sewer reserve to finance well work until the study is complete and the federal funds become available.

The Selkirk well is set for completion this summer.