Sixth Avenue reconstruction delayed, town hall meeting hears

Reconstruction of Sixth Avenue was the main concern voiced by residents of the downtown and Marwell area at a town hall meeting at Shipyards Park April 12.

Reconstruction of Sixth Avenue was the main concern voiced by residents of the downtown and Marwell area at a town hall meeting at Shipyards Park April 12.

The project, which includes replacing the roadbed and underground utility lines, plus improvements to pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, will not go ahead this year.

“The reconstruction on Sixth Avenue is definitely not going ahead this summer … we hit a glitch,” said Coun. Roslyn Woodcock.

“Contractors made errors in their tender but all the contractors got to see each other’s numbers,” said Coun. Dan Boyd. “So we have to put (the project) off for another year.”

A “tiny portion” of Sixth Avenue will be redone this year, however, said Mayor Dan Curtis.

Approximately $6 million has been set aside for repairs and upgrades in that area of downtown, including Wheeler and Alexander streets, he said.

“A lot of really good stuff is happening,” Curtis said. “A little bit of pain and suffering, but it’s worth it.”

Bylaw enforcement, particularly regarding snow machines and all-terrain vehicles, as well as vandalism along the trails were other big issues. Many residents in attendance said they felt bylaw officers were not always available to address complaints.

The bylaw officers people see ticketing vehicles are not the same as the officers who respond to other infractions, Curtis said. The city has three enforcement officers, he said, who are ex-RCMP and are trained to deal with the potential conflicts that arise during bylaw enforcement.

“There seems to be a misconception that we have an army of bylaw officers,” Curtis said.

Bylaw has 2,000 open complaint files at any time, he said.

Cyclist etiquette was another issue concern — also a bylaw issue — particularly regarding pedestrian safety.

“There is no such thing as absolute enforcement (of bylaws),” said Boyd.

Panhandling in the Main Street area was also a concern for residents. One person in particular complained she had been interrupted during a conversation with her boss “twice” by “aggressive panhandlers” asking for money.

“As a whole, we are hearing concerns about aggressive panhandling, more so than in years before,” Boyd said. “We’re cognizant of it.”

Curtis said the city has been working with “vulnerable people” over the last four and a half years.

“It’s been documented that if we can find people who need a home a home we will save money,” he said. “I don’t think we will get anywhere by fining people who don’t have money to eat…. We won’t succeed by giving people fines or putting them in jail but by finding them affordable housing.”

There is no bylaw regarding panhandling in Whitehorse, Curtis said.

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