Crystal Schick/Yukon News Shrubbery and housing construction surround the Whistle Bend entrance sign in Whitehorse on July 17, 2018. The Yukon government issued a tender related to a new school in Whistle Bend but pulled it down after four days.

Yukon government posts, pulls down Whistle Bend elementary school tender in four days

A Department of Highways and Public Works spokesperson said more consultation is needed

The Yukon government issued and then cancelled a tender related to the construction of the Whistle Bend elementary school within the span of four days, with a department spokesperson attributing the cancellation to the need for more consultation.

The tender, which was seeking an owner’s advisor for the government — essentially, a team of professionals including an architect and five engineers that would provide consultation services throughout the project — was posted July 29 and pulled down Aug. 1.

A section of the document outlining the scope of work included previously unreleased details, including that the school will accommodate up to 425 students, that an “early learning/pre-kindergarten room will be required,” and an estimated construction budget of $27 million to $32 million, not including consulting costs.

It also referred to the building as the “Whistle Bend Elementary School,” although it’s unclear if that was simply a descriptor or the school’s actual name.

The News had contacted the Department of Education on July 30, requesting more information on how the department had come up with the school’s capacity and budget.

Department of Highways and Public Works spokesperson Oshea Jephson said Aug. 1 the tender had been taken off the website.

“Building the Whistle Bend school is a high priority for our government. It will shape the community for decades to come and we need to take the time now to get it right,” Jephson said in a phone interview.

“The project is still in the early stages. The tender requires more consultation so the decision was made to cancel this tender.”

In a follow-up email the same day, Jephson wrote that the tender has been posted “as part of the project process, however once the department realized there wasn’t enough consultation with all stakeholders, the decision was made to cancel the tender.”

He added that the additional consultation will have “no impact” on construction timelines.

The Yukon Liberal’s Paolo Gallina, MLA for Porter Creek Centre, told the legislative assembly in April that construction on the school was anticipated to begin in 2021 and completed in 2023-24.

At the time, Gallina said that the building would be Whitehorse’s first new elementary school in 27 years, and that last fall, Whistle Bend was home to about 640 families and 100 school-aged children.

In his email, Jephson wrote that the Yukon government anticipates the school “will accommodate between 275 and 425 students, based on previous efforts to identify the base requirements of an elementary school in Whitehorse.”

“As part of the Whistle Bend elementary school project, we will review all existing Whitehorse attendance areas which will help determine enrolment numbers for the school,” he wrote.

“There is a trend of growing enrolment in Whitehorse schools and we have focused our planning for the new school building on ensuring we have enough capacity and flexibility to accommodate a growth of students over time.”

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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