Robert Service Campground is seen in a file photo. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)

Robert Service Campground is seen in a file photo. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)

Whitehorse city council adds cash to campground building

Another $750,000 brings budget up $3.87 million

The budget for a new building at Robert Service Campground has risen by $750,000, bringing it up to $3.87 million.

Whitehorse city council approved the additional spending in a unanimous vote at its April 25 meeting.

The project

The new structure has been planned as a space that would allow the city-owned campground to be open for more of the year and expand recreational opportunities.

Despite plans for the building already being scaled back when the tender was released, each of the three compliant bids that came in were over the $3.12-million budget with the lowest being over by $750,000.

As it was highlighted in an earlier report to council, the increase comes as costs are rising around the world.

“The City of Whitehorse is experiencing a significant price increase on recent construction projects as a result of national and international supply chain issues, rising commodity and inflationary rates as well as a very active local construction industry,” it was noted in an earlier report to council.

Council discussion

Before voting in favour of the additional spending, Coun. Ted Laking asked about the possibility of scaling back on plans further, pointing out that when bids came in over budget city administration had looked at the possibility.

Valerie Braga, the city’s director of operations, pointed to the impacts that option would have on the plans moving forward.

“That building would allow for summer campground operations to continue,” she said of the more scaled back option. “It would not have washroom facilities that would allow for multi-season use, and it would restrict one of the intentions of that building.

“We anticipate we could bring the costs within the budget; that isn’t confirmed at this stage, but we do anticipate that. However it would involve displacing residents of the campground the second time in a future year when we had the ability to expand.”

She added it wouldn’t allow the city to take full advantage of the planned programming for the site.

While Laking voted in favour of the budget increase, noting the project has already seen delays since planning began, he did add he would like to see council revisit the rental plans for the building.

City administration had highlighted the potential to rent out the space as a venue for gatherings such as weddings along with recreational activities. Laking raised concerns that could be seen as delving into competition with the private sector.

As interim city manager Jeff O’Farrell said, there are very few venues of that size (accommodating between 75 to 100 people) available to rent in the city.

Krista Mroz, the city’s acting director of community services, pointed out the city already rents out a number of spaces around town such as meeting rooms available at the Canada Games Centre and the Grey Mountain Room at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre.

O’Farrell later added the possibilities for rental of the space would come back to council through the operating budget and fees and charges bylaw, which would set out the amounts the city would charge to rent the space.

Other members of council spoke in favour of the additional spending to construct the building as planned, pointing out the campground is used by those who come up to Whitehorse to work during the summer.

“I’m sort of (the) mind this would be good money, well-spent,” Coun. Dan Boyd said. “Yes, prices are going up and it’s a reality that we’re in right now, and yes, we will have to cancel some projects, and yes, we may have to dig into our reserves a little bit to get some other projects done.”

Boyd pointed out there have already been delays in getting the building work started, suggesting it has only gotten more expensive as time has gone on.

Coun. Mellisa Murray noted the benefits of expanded recreational programs and the continued high demand for summer day camps.

“It’s a small, small price to pay to have some more recreational activities in our city,” she said. “I think that having this structure will do a lot more good in the long run.”

It’s expected the structure will take about a year to build.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at