Whitehorse City Hall seen in a file photo. (Yukon News file)

Whitehorse City Hall seen in a file photo. (Yukon News file)

This week at Whitehorse City Hall

A look at issues discussed by council at its April 19 meeting.

Establishing priorities

A total of six priorities may be the focus for Whitehorse city council as it continues in its term to 2024.

A 13-page document proposed for council’s adoption would set out its strategic priorities as housing and development; engagement and collaboration; inclusivity, accessibility and diversity; community safety; climate change and adaptation; and service excellence.

The proposed 2022-2024 Strategic Priorities document was brought forward to council at its April 19 meeting by interim city manager Jeff O’Farrell, who noted the proposed priorities come out of a number of facilitated sessions council members attended from January to March.

“It is standard practise for a new city council to identify its strategic priorities and adopt them by council resolution,” O’Farrell said. “Identifying strategic priorities gives direction to administration and serves to inform the community about the priorities of the municipality.”

Along with identifying priorities for council, the document highlights city population, demographics and other details about the community along with highlighting action items under each priority.

Coun. Kirk Cameron described it as “a very big deal for us”, going on to ask O’Farrell further about the direction it provides. O’Farrell described the strategic priorities as a road map for the city.

Questioned by Coun. Mellisa Murray about a communications strategy, O’Farrell said that should council adopt the priorities, further work on the design of the full document will be done along with a large format poster that will be displayed in city facilities highlighting the priorities.

Council will vote April 25 whether to adopt the document.

Repairs planned

The City of Whitehorse could be adding another $115,000 to the budget for repair work to the city’s sewer system.

Meanwhile, a project that would improve the Arkell storm outfall would be cancelled to ensure money is available for the repairs.

At Whitehorse city council’s April 19 meeting, city engineering manager Taylor Eshpeter brought forward a recommendation for the budget amendment and cancellation of the Arkell project.

As he explained, when rehabilitation work was done to the Marwell lift station in 2017/2018, it was found a section of pipe from the lift station to the new valve chamber was in poor condition, with an engineering consultant confirming it should be replaced as soon as possible. A bypass system was installed as part of the 2018 rehabilitation work in an effort to make replacing the piping easier.

“If this pipe were to fail, an unauthorized discharge of raw sewage would occur directly into the adjacent Yukon River, resulting in costly emergency repair work and potential regulatory fines,” Eshpeter said.

The repair work was initially tendered in 2020 with just one bid received that was over budget. It was then delayed until 2021 to look at combining it with other work the city was planning in the area. That work has since been put off until 2023.

The repair work was then tendered again in December 2021 with no bids received, only to be retendered with just one bid coming in at $365,895 — more than $140,000 over the $213,000 budget.

Efforts have been made to look at alternative materials for the piping that could reduce the cost.

“At this stage, administration is not comfortable delaying this project any further to wait for more favourable conditions,” Eshpeter said. “Due to the risk of pipe failure balanced with the efforts administration has put into bringing the costs down for this project, the best available alternative at this time is to proceed with awarding the project with the material alternative of thick-walled stainless steel pipe that is welded instead of seamless for a cost savings of $32,000.”

Council will vote April 25 on whether to move forward with the budget change for the repairs.

Spring rec grants proposed

A total of 31 organizations stand to receive a total of $141,600 as Whitehorse city council considers doling out its spring recreation grants.

At Whitehorse city council’s April 19 meeting, Kerri Rutherford, the city’s acting manager of recreation, brought forward the recommendation for the annual grants available to groups providing recreational programs and opportunities.

Rutherford noted the recreation grant task force met April 5 to come up with recommendations for this round of grants with all 31 applicants recommended for all or at least a portion of the amount they applied for.

“Where funding recommendations do not reflect the full amount of funding requests, it is because certain elements of an application may be fundable under another program, or it is reflective of the condition of the application, or there are insufficient grant funds to full cover the request,” she said.

The largest proposed grants are for $7,000 that would go to each the Alpine Ski Association for a new deck; Gwaandak Theatre Society for its Indigenous Summer Play Readings; Larrikin Entertainment Ensemble for a theatrical production of Blocked! the musical; Music Yukon for its Arts in the Park series of performances; the Heart of Riverdale Community Centre for facility fees, administration and advertising; the Yukon Arts Centre for its Youth Arts, Education and Transportation Program; Yukon Music Camp for its 2022 camp; Yukon Transportation Museum Society to explore post-pandemic programming for the Alaska Highway 80th Anniversary; and the Yukon Invasive Species Council for signage and materials.

The smallest proposed grant would be $750 that would go to Boreal Adventure Running for operational support of the Yukon River Trail Marathon in August.

Council will vote on the proposed recreation grants April 25.

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

Whitehorse city council