Whitehorse Daily Star

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PROPOSAL COOKING – Residents of Cook Street will be asked to vote on whether they’re willing to be charged for parts of the planned improvements to their artery.

Cook Street property owners could face LIC vote

The owners of more than 40 properties on Cook Street could find themselves telling the city their thoughts on a possible local improvement charge (LIC).

By Stephanie Waddell on March 19, 2019

The owners of more than 40 properties on Cook Street could find themselves telling the city their thoughts on a possible local improvement charge (LIC).

This comes as the city gets set to continue its work to fix up infrastructure in the downtown area.

Individual bills could range from a low of $7,868.89 to a high of $22,909.50. They could be amortized over a 15-year period.

At Monday evening’s council meeting, Taylor Eshpeter, the city’s manager of engineering services, brought forward a recommendation that council move forward with first reading of the bylaw for the LIC next week.

LICs can be used to levy funding from benefiting property owners for improvements to local roadways.

First reading would prompt a public hearing and a vote on the matter.

Eshpeter explained that Cook Street, from Fourth Avenue to the escarpment, has been identified for full reconstruction, including utilities.

Last summer, property owners were sent an information letter about the plans. There was also a public meeting and an online survey.

“In general, feedback was positive, and there has been no strong opposition to advancing this project to the LIC process, which includes a formal process pursuant to the Municipal Act, whereby notices are served to property owners to register their opposition to the LIC under (the bylaw),” Eshpeter stated in his report to council.

The work would see:

• water and sewer mains replaced;

• a recirculation system installed for frost protection, replacing the bleeder system;

• enhanced street lighting; sidewalk construction and angled parking;

• new road asphalt; and

• the construction of concrete curb and gutters to improve drainage.

“By replacing aging water and sewer infrastructure on Cook Street, the project will contribute towards meeting sustainability goals by reducing the amount of water wasted by services that bleed for frost protection,” Eshpeter said.

“Additional benefits include upsizing the capacity of infrastructure to meet a growing population density in downtown and the increase in service needs.

“Achieving universal accessibility in surface works is an important goal for the city. Cook Street consists of a combination of paved and gravel surfacing, on which potholes, ponding and dusty conditions are common occurrences.

“The proposed work includes concrete sidewalks, curbs, gutters and new asphalt paving which will significantly improve accessibility and pedestrian safety.”

Under the LIC, residential and non-profit property owners would pay $645.52 per metre that fronts Cook Street.

Commercial property owners would pay a rate $1,291.04 per metre of frontage.

Government rates would be $1,936.56 per metre of frontage.

That would see individual bills range from $7,868.89 to $22,909.50.

If first reading of the bylaw is approved next week, notices would be sent to property owners, with a public hearing set for April 23. Benefiting property owners would have until May 3 to respond.

Then, on May 13, would come a report on the public hearing and the response of benefitting property owners.

Second and third readings would move forward on May 21.

After Eshpeter’s presentation, Coun. Samson Hartland commented that it will be interesting to see how the possible LIC goes ahead, given the challenges the city has been presented with past LICs. Benefiting property owners have been known to vote against the proposed charges, thus icing the project.

Eshpeter responded to questions from Coun. Steve Roddick, who attended the meeting by conference call.

Eshpeter noted that council does have the option to waive the LIC process and potentially still move forward with the work, though budget changes would be required.

It’s anticipated the work to the street would be done during the 2020 construction season.

Comments (5)

Up 13 Down 1

Duke on Mar 22, 2019 at 3:30 am

All these needed improvements are all well and good for the people who live there and the real estate speculators but, don't ask me to pay for it.

Up 24 Down 4

G Boisvert on Mar 20, 2019 at 10:07 pm

If we all pay property tax where is the money going? I always thought it was to keep our roadways paved and our systems up to date. Can anyone find Cathy Watson and bring her back? She at least stood for the people and the city.

Up 23 Down 2

my opinion on Mar 20, 2019 at 3:55 pm

I am not a commercial property owner. I do see this as completely unfair and not justified that the commercial property owners have to pay so much more toward the improvements and would like to know why the city thinks it is justified. I really would like to know.

Next up, I am glad to see that people are not being charged for improvements to streets that run alongside their properties. That is another completely unfair aspect to these charges. If the cost of streets running alongside properties but with no properties fronting on it has to be fixed, that cost should be averaged among all property owners on the adjoining streets, because they all use them to access their street. In this case, they are not improving 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th, so it doesn't come in to play.

The policy needs an update. My opinion!

Up 32 Down 4

Equality on Mar 19, 2019 at 9:38 pm

Have always wondered how the City justifies commercial properties paying double the cost per meter of improvements. Maybe they get shinier pavement or smoother curbs. It’s bad enough that they are taxed more on their property taxes. They also pay for water and receive no garbage pickup. But that’s right, our City politicians keep reminding us they are business friendly.

Up 26 Down 6

joe on Mar 19, 2019 at 5:05 pm

Why do we pay municipal taxes?

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