Skip to content

Whitehorse city council contemplates cash for campground building

Project would need another $750,000
Robert Service Campground. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)

The City of Whitehorse could end up spending an extra $750,000 on the construction of a new building for the Robert Service Campground, as bids for the project exceeded the $3.12-million budget.

At Whitehorse city council’s April 19 meeting, Peter O’Blenes, the city’s manager of property management, brought forward a recommendation another $750,000 be added to the project for the city-owned campground. The additional funds would come from city reserves.

As O’Blenes explained in his report to council, the building was planned to replace the former campground office and designed to expand recreational opportunities for the community.

“The new building would extend the usage of that property into multiple seasons as well as create additional space for more recreational programming either direct (i.e. city day camps) or indirectly,” he said, highlighting it as a space that could also be used by recreational groups or for events such as weddings.

When the tender closed on March 25, three compliant bids were received with the lowest exceeding the city’s budget by $750,000.

With much of the funding — $2.81 million — set to come from the federal Canada Infrastructure Program, the city had approved the remainder — $310,000 — to come from reserves.

If council approves the additional spending it means the city will be funding $1.05 million on the now $3.85 million project.

O’Blenes pointed out efforts were already made to scale back the project in late 2021 when it appeared costs could be over budget.

“Administration reviewed the scope of the project and managed to identify a number of cost savings with minimal design changes to bring the project back in budget,” he said, adding those changes to the design were made prior to the tender being released.

Addressing council on the planned changes in January, O’Blenes noted the overall size of the building has been reduced and a number of planned spaces would be shelled to be added in at a later date, including a kitchen.

The new plan for the building will have a total of three fully functioning bathrooms with plumbing for an additional three that could be added in future. The initial plan for the building had all six bathrooms complete.

At the April 19 council meeting, O’Blenes noted the impact rising costs globally are continuing to have on the city.

“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,” he said.

While the possibility of putting the project off or scaling it back even further was briefly explored with councillors Kirk Cameron and Ted Laking wondering about possibilities to bring it in line with the budget, O’Blenes noted that costs are not anticipated to come down in the foreseeable future. Redesigning the project would mean the city would be out the approximately $250,000 that’s already been spent on design along with having to come up with new schematics. He also noted the project has been scaled back as much as it can.

“We’re pretty well at our maximum of what we can pull out,” he said.

Other council members pointed out the project has already seen delays in design and such in recent years and noted their support for the project to go ahead.

As Mayor Laura Cabott noted the campground isn’t being used to its full potential and this will allow for that to happen.

Acting director of community services Krista Mroz highlighted the opportunities that would come for events, day camps and programming at the site, noting the city is seeing more demand for medium capacity venues such as the building proposed.

As Coun. Mellisa Murray commented: “It’s great to see that this could potentially support internal and external recreation activities which in turn, I think supports mental health overall. So it’s good to see that come forward as part of the project.”

Council will vote April 25 whether to go ahead with the additional funding for the new building.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Stephanie Waddell

About the Author: Stephanie Waddell

I joined Black Press in 2019 as a reporter for the Yukon News, becoming editor in February 2023.
Read more