The lot at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Wood Street in Whitehorse on July 20, sits empty and fenced off. A future housing first apartment building will have 15 bachelor-style units. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon’s housing-first project set to go over its original budget estimate

The lowest bid came in at $3.9 million. The government originally estimated $2.7 million

The Yukon government is paying more than it thought it would to build housing first apartments in Whitehorse.

Plans for the new building on Fifth Avenue originally set the budget at $2.7 million. But the lowest bid, from Whitehorse construction company Ketza, came in at $3.91 million.

The territory awarded the contract to Ketza and accepted the higher price tag. Construction is expected to start in the next few weeks and be completed next year.

“It’s a project that will provide housing to the most vulnerable in society and therefore we’re willing to make this extra investment in the project,” said Darren Stahl, Yukon Housing Corporation’s director of capital development and maintenance.

The only other bid came from a Terrance, B.C. company for $6.1 million.

Stahl said there are many aspects that can influence construction pricing ranging from rising fuel costs to deliver materials to the lack of available labour.

“It’s the strong economy, it’s materials, it’s labour…. All of those factors combined weighed into their pricing.”

Stahl said the government’s original estimate was based on the cost of similar past projects and that its estimate was backed up by the design consultant.

The new building will have 15 bachelor-style units. It will offer supportive living but tenants will not need to stay off alcohol or drugs while they are living there.

Stahl said the project, including the larger construction costs, is being completely covered by federal money. The Yukon government is using cash from the federal Northern Housing Fund which was part of an affordable housing agreement it signed with the federal government.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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