Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

MORE SIMPLICITY SOUGHT – The city’s capital budget documents are complicated to follow and not user-friendly, says Whitehorse resident Steve Roddick, seen addressing city council Monday evening.

Budget lacking in certain area, resident says

Mayor Dan Curtis says transit and environmental sustainability remain high priorities for the city.

By Stephanie Waddell on November 28, 2017

Mayor Dan Curtis says transit and environmental sustainability remain high priorities for the city.

The mayor spoke to reporters after Monday evening’s council meeting. He responded to concerns that had been raised during a public input session on the proposed capital budget during the meeting.

Longtime local resident Steve Roddick addressed the city during the session. He argued there’s a lack of funding for transit and environmental sustainability projects in the proposed $20-million-plus capital spending plan for 2018.

While $10.8 million will go to various projects from existing city accounts, another $9.3 million would come from outside sources, such as available federal funds.

During his presentation, Roddick pointed to the difficulty he had in comparing the provisional budgets of 2016 to 2018 and the most recent proposal now showing provisional plans into 2019.

While Roddick recognized that provisional budgets will change as plans move forward, he said the budget documents are difficult to follow and “not user-friendly”.

He suggested the city should look at a “more transparent process” in the future.

Local improvement charges

Roddick also pointed to work planned for downtown roads. While the work is needed, he said, there is the broader issue of the process for local improvement charges (LICs).

Under the LIC bylaw, benefiting property owners may be charged for a portion of the surface works planned.

The benefiting property owners vote on the LIC. Any unreturned ballots are viewed as votes in favour of the charge.

If more than 50 per cent vote against the LIC, the city cannot issue the charge, and may choose not to move ahead with the project.

City staff noted Monday that the LIC process falls under the territorial Municipal Act. Therefore, the city cannot easily make changes to the process.

Councillors Betty Irwin and Samson Hartland have previously spoken out against the way LIC votes are counted. They have expressed their hope for changes in it when the Municipal Act is reviewed next.

Roddick also pointed to what he argued is the lack of funding for the bus system and environmental sustainability in the budget throughout his presentation, stating his disappointment with that.

As Curtis emphasized though, both are a priority for the city, and there is funding outlined for capital initiatives in both areas.

First speaking to transit, the mayor noted the city has outlined capital spending of about $1 million each year for the next four years or so. That is anticipated to come from the federal fund set to go to transit services across the country.

It is outlined on the list of projects that is subject to external funding.

Peter O’Blenes, the city’s director of infrastructure and operations, noted that if money does not come out of the federal funding, the city would likely look to its portion of gas tax funding to buy new buses.

He noted it will be the territorial and federal governments that negotiate how much comes to the territory from Ottawa’s fund.

Meanwhile, acting city manager Mike Gau confirmed environmental sustainability projects now fall under the planning services category and water and waste services category in the budget.

The change, he explained, is part of the ongoing reorganization of city departments.

He also pointed out that environmental sustainability will be focused on throughout the review of the Official Community Plan proposed for 2018 at an estimated cost of $100,000.

Curtis argued the city is not “hiding anything” in the budget documents.

Officials are happy to provide clarification and answer questions from the public, he said.

Staff will address the public input session next week with a report to council.

Members will then vote on second and third readings of the capital budget bylaw at their meeting scheduled for Dec. 11.

Comments (7)

Up 0 Down 0

It is to bad the mayor is not the one to set priorities on Dec 2, 2017 at 6:09 pm

for the City of Whitehorse. Common sense does as the municipal act states. Health and safety are key like making sure our sewage system operates properly and is safe for our environment.
Wilf Carter

Up 3 Down 1

My Opinion on Nov 29, 2017 at 2:56 pm

The easiest way to remain sustainable is to stay within your budget. Like a business when you are out of money you quit spending. I would like to know what has been spent on strings of Christmas lights in the last few years let alone the labour to cover every tree in town. I like the lights but we should only be able to do that if we have excess money and then we would know when they were running out because the lights would go out.

Up 5 Down 0

My Opinion on Nov 29, 2017 at 2:52 pm

They just replaced all the buses a couple of years ago. Buses are built like highway tractors, they do not need to be replaced all the time. A million kms. and then do a major and go again. These guys have no idea how to run a fleet. When their car needs an oil change they get a new one.

Up 1 Down 4

BnR on Nov 29, 2017 at 6:50 am

With all the negative comments one reads re. the CofW and the mayor, only ONE person bothered to show up to question and critique.
I guess Infowars was on.
If you have a problem with how the CofW spends money, just stow it.
You couldn't be bothered to show up.

Up 8 Down 1

Bob Scott on Nov 28, 2017 at 7:13 pm

Perhaps the city should consider running much smaller buses when and where ridership is low. Running large expensive buses doesn't make sense on many routes. Less fuel, less maintenance and much lower capital costs. Please consider.

Up 6 Down 0

Max Mack on Nov 28, 2017 at 4:58 pm

". . . environmental sustainability projects now fall under the planning services category and water and waste services category in the budget."

In other words, water and waste fees will go up (yet again) to pay for "environmental sustainability projects". Words cannot express my contempt for CoW's shell game.

Up 6 Down 1

ProScience Greenie on Nov 28, 2017 at 4:15 pm

Graft, inefficiency, bloat and poor senior management all lead to big wastes of money which means huge amounts of energy wasted and way too many tons of C02 emitted. Living within our means is true sustainability and also happens to be very good for the environment.

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.