Whitehorse rental policy should be more transparent: council

For years, Whitehorse councillor Doug Graham has criticized the inequitable way the territorial government disposes of land.

For years, Whitehorse councillor Doug Graham has criticized the inequitable way the territorial government disposes of land.

Monday, he turned his guns on the city administration.

The city requires office space for its two-year-long Enterprise Resource Program.

City staff wanted politicians to approve an office space lease in the Phelps Building on Main Street to meet these requirements.

Graham cried foul.

“If it’s public money, the process has got to be open and transparent and available to everybody,” he said, expressing concern for other Whitehorse citizens who may have space available for rent, but weren’t considered by the city.

“We can’t start making our own rules — I don’t know if it’s somebody’s friend that got the first shot at it — but it’s got to be open and fair and, to me, this isn’t.

“And I guarantee I’ll vote against it on that basis.”

The city hired a realtor to find the office space for them, administrative services director Robert Fendrick told council.

The realtor came back with two options — the Phelps Building was the only location with a rental rate within the city’s budget.

The $1,200-a-month rent the city would be paying for the 90 square metres of office space would be hard to beat, said Fendrick.

“If you want we could go back and advertise, but I doubt if we’ll get a better rate than this.”

The location also has the added benefit of a city fibre-optic cable that runs right in front of the building.

It would only set the city back a month to do a public tender for the rental, said Fendrick.

But he was doubtful that it would turn up a better location.

The city doesn’t rent space very often, so there isn’t any particular policy for renting per se, Fendrick added.

The Enterprise Research Program would only need a 17.5-month lease beginning July 15.

Council voted to take the proposal back to allow a public process.

“The problem is, now this has basically been decided,” said Graham.

“This discussion should have taken place a month ago.”