Whitehorse plans new building for city staff

Whitehorse's municipal bosses plan to shave $10 million from the city's 2013 capital budget to help save up for a new building for city staff. A recent energy audit found many city buildings are energy inefficient.

Whitehorse’s municipal bosses plan to shave $10 million from the city’s 2013 capital budget to help save up for a new building for city staff.

A recent energy audit found many city buildings are energy inefficient. And it isn’t practical to have city services spread through different buildings across the city, said city manager Stan Westby.

Putting many services in the same building will save money and energy, said Westby. The city is looking to get rid of the municipal services building on Fourth Avenue, the transit building on Tlingit Road, the parks and recreation offices on Fourth Avenue and the warehouse and animal shelter on Quartz Road.

The city could sell the buildings once they’re no longer using them, said Westby. “It’s a strategic opportunity for us,” he said.

An in-house team has developed a request for proposals. Bidding will take place at the end of this year or early 2013.

The feasibility study for the project cost $250,000 and was included in the 2012 capital budget, said Westby.

Council would need to approve the costs of the building, but the city anticipates it will need to borrow money.

“In a sense, we are just sort of putting money in the piggybank for the potential of a new building. How much that will be and how much we’re saving, (I) really can’t say at this point,” said Robert Fendrick, director of corporate services.

If the project doesn’t go ahead, the saved money will go to other projects, he said.

The city has $6 million in gas tax money held in reserve that needs to be spent by 2014. The plan is to put this money toward the new building, said Westby.

Improving roads and sewage systems is a main priority of the $14.3-million capital budget, with $6.5 million to be spent on these projects. In Riverdale, the Robert Campbell Bridge would be widened and new traffic lights would be installed at Lewes Boulevard and Hospital Road.

There would also be construction on the northern part of Range Road and reconstruction would begin on Sixth Avenue. In Hillcrest, water pipes would be replaced, and across the city, water and sewage monitor systems would be improved.

Another $1 million would be spent on landfill improvements, including creating a new cell, restoring the gatehouse area and investing in new composting equipment. A new pumper truck would be bought for the fire department. The city would also buy a new one-ton truck, transit bus, pothole patcher and loader.

The city’s capital budget passed first reading on Monday night. There will be a public hearing about the budget at city council on Jan. 14. Once the capital budget is approved, the city will create its operations budget.