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Whitehorse city hall roundup

Marwell lift station budget, B.C. wildfire donation, business bylaw changes all approved Aug. 7
Joel Krahn/Yukon News file

By Rhiannon Russell

Marwell money approved

The $1-million budget increase for repairs and upgrades to Whitehorse’s Marwell lift station was given the go-ahead by city council Aug. 7.

That brings the total bill for the project to $3.5 million. When it was initially approved in May 2016, the estimated cost was $880,000.

Assistant city engineer Taylor Eshpeter told council last month that the more money was needed to deal with unexpected complications, including damage and degradation to the pipes and concrete. The project will replace piping and a protective liner forthe station’s wet well.

Built in the 1970s, the lift system pumps sewage through pipes beneath the Yukon River. Eshpeter told the News last month that it was critical the pipes be replaced as quickly as possible to prevent “major pipe failures,” which would allow raw sewage toleak into river. The project will be funded by the federal gas tax, unless that funding is not confirmed, in which case the money will come from the city’s water and sewer reserve.

Council OKs B.C. wildfire donation

Whitehorse city council voted Aug. 7 to donate $5,000 to the Canadian Red Cross for wildfire relief efforts in British Columbia, two weeks after voting not to.

When the motion was first discussed at the July 24 meeting, some councillors were concerned because there wasn’t $5,000 in the city’s donations account. Since then, city staff located funds in the promotions account that could also be used for thecause.

Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu brought forward a motion Aug. 7 to reconsider the decision. “I want to be able to demonstrate good governance and fiscal responsibility and so I felt that we shouldn’t be putting the cart before the horse,” she said, explaining herinitial vote against the motion. “We should be checking our finances before making any donation…. We have a duty to taxpayers to manage our money responsibly.”

Among the councillors present — Roslyn Woodcock, Betty Irwin, Dan Boyd, and Curteanu — the decision to donate the funds was unanimous.

City tightens background checks for some business owners

Whitehorse city council approved amendments this week to the business licence and vehicle-for-hire bylaws.

Together, the two bylaws tighten up the rules for owners of pawn shops, secondhand stores, and taxi companies regarding criminal-record checks. The bylaw states that the city may refuse to issue a business licence if a person “has been convicted of anindictable offense under the Criminal Code of Canada” and the city, “based on reasonable grounds, determines that it is in the public interest to do so.”

For pawn shop owners, the bylaw lists such offences as the possession or sale of stolen property, robbery, theft, or drug trafficking. For vehicle-for-hire company owners, it lists sexual offences, homicide, kidnapping, robbery, extortion, or drugtrafficking.

Tom Wyers, acting manager of the bylaw department, said the city would review applications on a case-by-case basis. “Just because you have a criminal record doesn’t mean you’re not going to get a business licence,” he said. “We look at other things,such as is if there is a frequency of a particular type of offence that’s in the bylaw that is continued over a period of time?”

Last month, Wyers told council that the changes were proposed after “other levels of government raised a concern with the city regarding illegal activities in the vehicle-for-hire industry,” in 2016.

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