Tighter budget approved for city sustainability review

Whitehorse city officials will have to use fewer dollars to reach sustainability nirvana. On Monday night, council approved a trimmed-down budget for an upcoming review of Whitehorse's sustainability plan.

Whitehorse city officials will have to use fewer dollars to reach sustainability nirvana.

On Monday night, council approved a trimmed-down budget for an upcoming review of Whitehorse’s sustainability plan.

Instead of the requested $100,000, council signed off on a $60,000 budget for the project.

In one of the lighter moments of the short meeting, Coun. Dave Stockdale questioned what the end goal is for the city when it comes to sustainability.

“Will sustainability be a never-ending expense for us? Will we be doing this forever? Is there a perfect scenario in the world where we’ll have reached this nirvana or whatever it is we’re looking for?” Stockdale asked.

The city’s manager of environmental sustainability, Shannon Clohosey, called the plan a lens that other city projects are considered through.

“So it’s true it can be a difficult term to define, but like I said, that speaks to the value of a review like this,” she told council.

The city’s current plan has been in place for five or six years. It was intended to be a seven-year plan, Clohosey said.

There is also a requirement for a review under gas tax funding.

Council was presented with three options for the review with three corresponding budgets.

The cheapest, a $40,000 plan, would have been mostly an internal review done by city staff.

The priciest $100,000 plan, first presented to council last week, involved hiring a consultant to engage the public for input. The city was planning to ask the consultant to come up with an innovative arts project to encourage public participation.

That plan did not sit well with council. Coun. Kirk Cameron worried the art project could be “flaky” – although he later apologized for using the word.

Clohosey called the plan she presented this week a hybrid between the two options.

“This third option proposes to retain the services of a consultant to determine and implement a public engagement strategy that would focus on public engagement practices that the city has had some success with in the past,” she said.

The scope of the marketing and promotions may be scaled down a little, she said.

“But I think there are still some really interesting and unique things that we can do to ensure a great deal of public engagement.”

Councillors spoke in favour of the review. The $60,000 budget was passed anonymously.

Using art as a way to engage the public is not completely out of the question with this tighter budget, Clohosey told the News.

“We’re still going to be soliciting creative ideas. If a consultant, within the budget, comes up with an art project within that budget that council approves then we may just do it.”

But the city is going to ask the consultant to focus more on practices that have had success with in the past.

“That would be things like open houses, community cafes, interviews, forums,” she said.

Clohosey said she hopes the request for proposals for the consultant to be issued in about a month. The project will ideally be completed early next year.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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