City council meeting in Whitehorse on Feb. 8. Whitehorse city council is concerned over infrastructure funding that has yet to be approved by the Yukon government. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

City council meeting in Whitehorse on Feb. 8. Whitehorse city council is concerned over infrastructure funding that has yet to be approved by the Yukon government. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

YG responds to Whitehorse’s municipal infrastructure issue

Process has not changed, officials say

As Whitehorse city council voices concerns over infrastructure funding that has yet to be approved, Yukon government officials say the territory is focused on a number of previously approved projects now underway and ensuring those projects “are advancing as close as possible to schedules and approved budgets.”

In a Feb. 17 emailed statement, Community Services spokesperson Breagha Fraser emphasized the process for municipalities to apply for infrastructure funding has not changed.

The issue came up at Whitehorse city council’s Feb. 15 meeting where members pointed to concerns that the city is unable to move forward with procurement on a number of projects that were planned to move forward with funding from the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.

Under the program, the federal government provides 75 per cent of funding with the territory providing 25 per cent.

In the past, the city says it has been able to move forward on tendering or requesting proposals for such projects in January or February.

This year the city has been informed it must wait until the territorial budget is passed before a number of infrastructure projects can be looked at for approval. That’s raising concern that construction on some projects will not be able to begin this year given the time it will take for procurement after approval.

Fraser stated in her email that the process hasn’t changed.

“It’s the same this year as it has been every other year,” she said. “Capital priorities are advanced through the capital planning process for decisions before we advance any new projects to an application stage.”

All projects, she noted, are subject to necessary approvals including budgeting as well as federal and territorial approvals, a process that typically takes four to six months.

She pointed to a number of projects already underway in the city with previously approved infrastructure funding such as planning for a new building at Robert Service Campground, a number of water and sewer projects; and upgrades to city buildings including city hall. Whitehorse currently has $36 million in funding from the Yukon and federal governments for infrastructure initiatives.

It’s expected the territorial budget will be tabled on the first day of the legislative assembly’s spring sitting. It was announced Feb. 17 the spring sitting for the legislature would begin March 4.

As to the impact a potential spring election could have on ICIP funding, Fraser noted: “Elected members of the legislative assembly must approve the budget and the appropriation act must receive assent for the spending bill to become law. There are various tools at the government’s disposal for ensuring that government programs, services and projects continue to receive funding when the legislative assembly is not able to sit.”

Fraser emphasized the Yukon government takes a comprehensive look at infrastructure priorities throughout the territory.

“Funding applications are routinely submitted years before construction and projects are in scoping for years ahead of a project ready for tender,” she said. “Yukon has committed to ensure a fair distribution of available funds toward projects across the territory.”

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

Whitehorse city councilYukon government

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