We’re not being honest about the Canada Games Centre: Graham

City council has lied to Whitehorse residents, said councillor Doug Graham on Monday. It didn’t budget properly for the Canada Games Centre…

City council has lied to Whitehorse residents, said councillor Doug Graham on Monday.

It didn’t budget properly for the Canada Games Centre and now taxpayers will foot the bill.

Graham is referring to the five-per-cent tax increase in the 2007 operating budget that he attributes to the building of the Canada Games Centre.

“There should have been a contingency fund for the Canada Games Centre; we shouldn’t be dipping into capital funds,” said Graham.

“We haven’t been honest and haven’t explained to the public that we’re dipping into operating costs to fund the Games Centre,” said Graham.

The Games Centre must recover $1.8 million in revenue this year to get it out of the red.

“We’re in deep trouble, even if the Games Centre is able to recover the $1.8 million, which is almost unrealistic,” said Graham.

“We’re in tough shape for this year.”

At this rate, we’re going to have to add another five per cent tax increase over the next two years, said Graham.

Going into debt with capital expenditures may be OK as long as council tells people what it’s going to cost and, in this case, it hasn’t been open and honest, he said.

The city’s debt allowance is $50 million and currently it stands to incur a $4-million debt this year just for building a new fire hall.

But “we could be a lot worse,” said councilor Stockdale at the meeting.

“Sometimes you have to borrow money.

“I don’t think it’s true that we’re actually lying; maybe we just miscalculated running the Canada Games Centre,” he said.

Sure, this is a bad year, but next year will be better and fees will not have to be raised again, added Stockdale.

“The city is in a favourable situation,” said mayor Bev Buckway.

Like a mortgage on a house, you have to look past the dollars and cents in the first few years, said Buckway about the Games Centre.

By this she means that the centre will not begin to recoup its losses in the first couple of years, just as most houses need money put into them for renovations when first bought.

“I don’t believe we’re misleading people,” said Buckway on Tuesday.

“When you think back to the planning of the Canada Games Centre, which would be about five years ago now, the best estimates at the time were put forward and that’s what you work with; without a physical building there to heat, you can’t say for sure what those costs are going to be.

“Even after you’re in it for six months, you’re still learning how the building works … and so you have to get used to things and see what you can do.

“How much effect will it have if you turn the temperature down one degree? Those are things that we have to really work with.

“So we’re using the best estimates that we had at the time and yes, sometimes they change and yes, there are more costs than we had estimated for it.”

We now have to seek out creative solutions to the problem, said Buckway.

This will involve encouraging more people to use the building to get the Games Centre revenues up.

The Canada Games Centre problem needs a creative solution, said Councillor Jan Stick.

“We give city workers a discounted pass to the centre,” said Stick Tuesday.

“Why can’t (the Yukon government) do the same, then we’d have all those people using the centre.

“We just have to think outside the box a little bit to come up with a solution.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Premier Sandy Silver speaks to media after delivering the budget in the legislature in Whitehorse on March 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Territorial budget predicts deficit of $12.7 million, reduced pandemic spending in 2021-2022

If recovery goes well, the territory could end up with a very small surplus.

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25 after two masked men entered a residence, assaulted a man inside with a weapon and departed. (Black Press file)
Two men arrested after Dawson City home invasion

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25.… Continue reading

Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters at a news conference in Whitehorse on Dec. 21, 2017. New ATIPP laws are coming into effect April 1. (Chris Windeyer/Yukon News file)
New access to information laws will take effect April 1

“Our government remains committed to government openness and accountability.”

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

Most Read