Mayor Laura Cabott presented her capital budget address for the upcoming year on Tuesday evening.
The budget is coming in at $47 million, a significant drop from the $58-million capital budget presented a year ago.
“Whitehorse remains one of the fastest-growing communities in the country. We continue to face a number of pressures outside of our control,” Cabott said.
“Our community continues to struggle with a housing shortage that makes it challenging for newcomers to find a home. That means it’s harder for businesses to find staff. High inflation makes life less affordable.”
Climate change is also impacting the city, the mayor said, noting the problems with landslides along the escarpment, notably at Robert Service Way, for the second straight spring.
She said finding a permanent solution to that problem will be one of the largest projects the city has ever undertaken.
Cabott also pointed to the $10 million the city spent on the Takhini sewer main project, which just wrapped up after months of disruption to the Mountainview Drive corridor.
“Crews had to race against the clock to get it installed and functioning this year.”
The mayor also discussed the potential problems with the Selkirk aquifer, where traces of surface water contamination are turning up.
“These are big projects for a small city,” she said.
“Despite the uncertainty, they are necessary. In addition to that, we still have to look forward and invest for growth.
“Over the next four years, these strategic investments will keep our community safe, active and resilient. Like so many municipalities across Canada, our infrastructure is getting old, which is why this budget includes investments targeted directly at aging infrastructure.”
Cabott said one of the “most-used” public facilities in the city is the aquatic centre at the Canada Games Centre.
“This facility is aging,” she said. It opened in the early 2000s, before the rest of the Games Centre construction was completed.
The budget proposes more than $7 million in upgrades to the ventilation system, and additional funding for other repairs.
Money is also being set aside for improvements and repairs to water mains and wastewater maintenance.
“This work is required to extend the life of the existing infrastructure and prevent extended costlier repairs in the future.”
Cabott said sidewalk repairs are also in the offing to improve accessibility and active transportation objectives.
As well, more funding will be provided to the fire department, which responded to more than 700 calls last year and is on pace for more.
More than $4.2 million is slated for equipment upgrades.
Some of that money will come from city reserves to minimize the effects on property taxes.
Cabott called the budget “not extravagant but necessary.
“We will continue to make fiscally responsible and necessary decisions,” she said.
More major initiatives are in the offing, but subject to funding assistance from the Yukon and federal governments, Cabott said.
“By making these difficult decisions today, we are setting ourselves up for success in the future,” she added.
“The city is working hard to have the capital expenditures in place by the beginning of 2024. This gives local businesses and contractors as much notice as possible.”
The public input session on the budget is scheduled for Nov. 27.