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Schwatka Lake improvement contract considered

More parking could be added this year
Crystal Schick/Yukon News file A pair is silhouetted against the steaming waters of Schwatka Lake as they pass a docked float plane in the morning sunlight on Oct. 17, 2020. The city is getting set for upgrades to the Schwatka Lake area that will result in more parking and dock spaces.

More parking could be in place along Schwatka Lake later this year as the City of Whitehorse continues working on improvements that would eventually see more docks added to the lake.

City of Whitehorse associate manager for engineering Michael Abbott put forward a schedule for new parking areas to Whitehorse city council on March 15, recommending procurement for the project be approved.

Under the city’s procurement policy, council must first approve that procurement go ahead on any project expected to be worth more than $500,000.

The proposal for more dock spaces was part of the 2015 Schawtka Lake Area Plan.

“The plan includes a number of recommended improvements with the goal of increasing available dock spaces for float planes, improving traffic signs and way finding in the area, and ultimately improving safety,” Abbott said. “The city’s engineering consultant for the project created conceptual designs for increasing the parking within the area to allow for the creation of 10 to 14 new float plane dock sites.”

A conceptual design done in 2020 proposes two new parking areas on Miles Canyon Road between the proposed dock sites. Space for new docks could be added both north and south of current dock sites.

“Input was solicited from the aviation community on the proposed parking configurations and the proposed float plane dock site locations and spacing,” Abbott said, noting the preferred concept was the proposal that is now being put to council.

Should council approve it going ahead, Abbott said the procurement documents would likely be issued for April 21 with the contract to be awarded by June 2.

Work on the new parking spaces would be anticipated to be finished by Sept. 30.

Abbott noted that while other improvements are also highlighted in the Schwatka Lake Area Plan, the scope of the work planned at this point is for the two parking areas.

That had Coun. Dan Boyd wondering about the process for dock space to be made available.

Abbott noted the city sees working on the dock issue “somewhat simultaneously” with the development of parking spaces.

The first step, he explained, will be to go through the wait list of those who wanted a dock site and see who is still interested, compiling a more current list for when the spaces are available.

Boyd also confirmed that it is up to plane operators that are issued permits for the space, to build their docks and maintain them. Abbott noted there are a number of conditions that must be met under the dock permits that are issued.

Meanwhile, Coun. Steve Roddick raised a concern around the principle of sustainability outlined in the report.

The report highlighted that the tender documents would only be available electronically with submission also only accepted electronically as one way to ensure the sustainability policy principle is being met.

Roddick questioned “can we do better,” arguing it would be an opportunity for the city to encourage prospective contractors to reduce emissions and take other measures that ensure sustainability throughout the contract.

“I feel like every procurement should be an opportunity where we create incentives for the contracting community to compete with each other to have a lower carbon footprint, to have a more environmentally friendly impact,” he said.

As Abbott suggested though, that sort of consideration may be better considered at the overall policy level rather than for an individual contract.

Mélodie Simard, the city’s manager of planning and sustainability services, also said her department as well as the finance department are currently working together to look at how other jurisdictions are approaching sustainability principles in procurement.

Council will vote on whether to move forward with the procurement on the Schawtka Lake improvements at its March 22 meeting.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Stephanie Waddell

About the Author: Stephanie Waddell

I joined Black Press in 2019 as a reporter for the Yukon News, becoming editor in February 2023.
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