Whitehorse city news, briefly

Some of the issues discussed at the May 6 council meeting

Whitehorse awards new fire hall contract

Ketza Construction will build the planned fire hall downtown after Whitehorse city council voted May 6 to award the $3.2 million contract to the local firm.

Ketza had the lower of two bids for the contract, though the bid came in $400,000 over budget. City staff have pointed to the busy construction season in the city and territory in stating the higher-than-anticipated price is within market conditions even at 14 per cent over budget.

The additional cash will come from money saved on the operations building, which is also being built by Ketza and came in under budget.

Coun. Laura Cabott initially suggested sending the matter back for staff to look at ways to bring the cost down.

As other members of council pointed out though, efforts have already been made to scale the project back to basics while still meeting the projected needs of the city for the next 50 years.

“This is not a luxury,” Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu said.

The need to build on-schedule was also emphasized in light of federal funding available for a new city services building and energy retrofits for city hall. The funding is available until March 31, 2023, but the new firehall has to be built first as the plan will see the current firehall demolished to make way for the new services building.

“I think we have to move forward in a timely manner,” Mayor Dan Curtis said, after stating if the price “could be lower it would be lower.”

It’s anticipated the fire hall will be finished in 2020.

Whitehorse to hire new staffer to focus on energy reduction

The City of Whitehorse will hire a new senior project technician to focus on reducing energy use.

Council members voted 6-1 May 6 to make budget changes that will allow for the new term hire thanks to a Climate Change Innovation Program grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

The grant will provide up to $125,000 until Feb. 28, 2021 to cover up to 80 per cent of the cost for the position with the city funding the remaining 20 per cent.

Coun. Samson Hartland was the only member of council to vote against it. He made it clear that his concern was not about what the position could do for the city, but rather that he is not in favour of growing government. He said he believes there needs to be more discussion in reviewing such positions for the city.

Others expressed some concerns given the city had opted not to fund the position on its own when it came up for discussion at budget time, but they also pointed out it is a rare opportunity for funding like this and stated the city should take advantage of the opportunity.

City will purchase new bylaw truck

After a lengthy discussion by city council, bylaw staff learned the department will get a new truck.

Council voted 5-2 in favour of awarding the $53,110 contract for supply of the vehicle to Metro Chrysler. Councillors Dan Boyd and Laura Cabott voted against it.

The purchase comes after bylaw’s truck was hit head-on while stopped earlier this year. Proceeds from the insurance will total $15,000 and be put towards the purchase with additional funding for it coming from the city’s equipment reserve.

Cabott said she had not been convinced the expense of a new truck was entirely necessary despite staff noting the need for a 3/4-ton truck with towing capacity for ATVs and snow machines so bylaw staff can patrol and respond to calls on trails. Bylaw officers are also equipped with bikes during the summer for trail work, but there are greater limitations with those.

Meanwhile, Boyd wondered why a 3/4-ton would be necessary for towing. He pointed out there are many residents in the city who tow their off-road vehicles with their 1/2-ton trucks. The city has a 1/2-ton truck that could potentially be available for use.

While Peter O’Blenes, director of infrastructure and operations, explained the 1/2 ton can technically tow the trailer with off-road vehicles, it is not as safe as the 3/4-ton truck.

Some on council expressed reluctance, but voted in favour of the purchase citing the need for the truck which was used an average of 1.8 times weekly in 2018. The truck was used 21 times this year before the collision. (Stephanie Waddell)

Whitehorse to spend more on water licence

The City of Whitehorse will spend another $150,000 from the water and sewer reserve on work needed to renew its water licence.

A short-term 18-month renewal was granted earlier this year for the city water licence while the city works on the more complicated 25-year licence application.

The 18-month licence has a number of conditions with deadlines that must be met.

They include a monitoring plan focused on seepage water quality due before September and estimated at $15,000.

There’s also a hydrogeological assessments on the Livingstone Trail environmental control facility and Crestview lagoon due before March 2020. (Stephanie Waddell)

City will purchase new servers

Council voted to award a contract worth more than $100,000 for new city servers to Klondike Business Solutions.

The contract is to replace “aging and obsolete servers” at the city’s data centers, it was outlined in a staff report to council.

Klondike had the lowest bid at $101,517 with the only other bid coming from Derrick Associates and a numbered company. (Stephanie Waddell)

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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