Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for December 5, 2013

Capital budget could be approved as it stands

It appears the city’s 2014 capital budget could be adopted as is.

By Stephanie Waddell on December 5, 2013 at 4:29 pm

It appears the city’s 2014 capital budget could be adopted as is.

City financial manager Val Anderson brought forward a public input report with a recommendation to council Monday night that second and third readings of the proposed $12.9-million capital budget move forward.

The report and recommendation come after an input session on the spending plan with a city response to each issue that came up during the session.

Philip Fitzgerald, the chair of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, argued there is a lack of detail on potential funding sources. He also said the provisional budget set out earlier should be referred to, and there should be a policy around contracting locally.

As Anderson stated in response Monday evening, a number of factors can influence changes from a provisional budget to what comes forward as the main budget.

“The scope of the project may change, economic considerations may affect the cost of a project, reliance on other related projects may change planned timing, outside funding may or may not be available, a new project may come froward for consideration, or a project may no longer be required,” she pointed out in the report.

While funding sources were part of council’s discussions on the budget, she noted, they don’t normally form part of the budget itself.

A chart provided then noted a number of sources, including funds from the territorial and federal governments and various city reserves, among other contributions.

Finally, she pointed out, the city does include a provision for local hire in its procedure around hiring consultants.

“This evaluation criterion rewards local firms and encourages partnerships between local firms and non-local firms with specialized expertise,” Anderson noted.

“The goal is to obtain the maximum value for taxpayers’ dollars while developing and encouraging the growth of local enterprises.”

Meanwhile, the purchasing and sales policy provides guidelines for all procurement.

“As such, local suppliers are afforded every opportunity to compete for the city’s business,” it was noted.

The city isn’t a signatory with the Yukon government on the Agreement On Internal Trade.

However, “this agreement and its guiding principles for the development of competitive local enterprises and economies while removing trade barriers, serves as an additional incentive for the City of Whitehorse to actively pursue the acquisition of goods and services from local suppliers.”

During the public input session, the Skate For Life organization sought funding in the capital budget for its proposal to construct a new skateboard park on the same site as the Second Haven park in Riverdale.

The equipment from the current park is proposed to go to a new facility in Copper Ridge.

As Anderson reported Monday, though, “A capital budget submission for this project was brought forward for consideration, but the project is currently unfunded.

“Representatives from the community and recreation services division continue to work with the active user group to try to further develop the project.”

Coun. Betty Irwin voiced her support for the skate park project later in the meeting. As the project moves along and more planning is done, she said, she hopes there will be support from the city.

As she pointed out, it’s an important part of the recreational community.

Irwin also stressed the importance of moving forward on planning park space that was set out in the Official Community Plan (OCP). It’s crucial, she argued, that those areas are protected.

The comment came in light of two public submissions that supported park planning beyond what is set out in the budget.

As Anderson reported: “The 2014 -2017 capital plan identifies $20,000 for OCP Parks System Planning. The intent of this project is to create a parks framework which would be used for future year development of the five areas identified in the OCP important recreational and environmentally significant areas in the city.”

As Mike Gau, the director of development services, informed council, work would then be done on individual parks – identified in the OCP for areas at Chadburn Lake, McIntyre Creek, Paddy’s Pond/Ice Lake, McLean Lake and Wolf Creek – to define exact boundaries and work on management plans.

While Coun. John Streicker said he’s pleased to see a framework will be set out, he also said he hopes that doesn’t mean it will be beyond 2017 when the parks start being planned.

Another focus in budget submissions from the public was the extensive trail network throughout the city.

Local resident Keith Lay argued that trails should be consolidated and concrete used for surfacing where surfacing is to be done.

Anderson noted a committee has been established to oversee trail development and deal with a number of issues Lay brought forward.

“With regard to the use of concrete, administration confirms that the initial cost of concrete paths is 2.5 to three times the cost of asphalt,” she said.

“Ongoing maintenance required of concrete paths still involves patching, as concrete can crack and create tripping hazards. Vegetation can grow in the cracks, which also require maintenance.

“Asphalt is less expensive to repair than concrete, and administration feels that overall, asphalt paths are more cost-effective than concrete paths.”

Anderson also addressed a number of other concerns brought up, saying the city is continuing to work on building consolidation, less costly landscaping options and other matters.

Council will vote on the capital budget next week.

Coun. Dave Stockdale was absent from Monday’s meeting.

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