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City of Whitehorse proposes to spend nearly $130M over 4 years in its capital budget plan

The City of Whitehorse has unveiled its capital budget, and the plan calls for nearly $130 million in spending over the next four years. Mayor Laura Cabott says the capital plan is largely based on the wishes of the previous mayor and council.

Mayor Laura Cabott says the capital plan is largely based on the wishes of the previous mayor and council

Newly-elected Whitehorse mayor Laura Cabott on election night, Oct. 21, 2021. She says the recently unveilled capital plan for the city is largely based on the wishes of the previous mayor and council. (Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada)

The City of Whitehorse's recently unveiled capital budget proposal calls for nearly $130 million in spending over the next four years.

Mayor Laura Cabott said in her capital budget speech that this budget "focuses on reducing energy consumption, upgrading and replacing aging infrastructure, and making considerable improvements to the way you interact with city facilities and services."

"Adopting a city budget is always challenging, as residents and taxpayers anticipate the most responsible use of city funds."

She also pointed to problems caused by COVID-19, which over the past 18 months have affected many of the city's plans, via rising costs of materials, and significant labour shortages across many sectors of the economy.

"We're still in the throes of a global pandemic," she said. "Moving forward, we need to take that into consideration as we seek to accomplish a number of important projects in the coming years."

The city puts out a four-year capital plan every year.

The capital budget plan comes with an asterisk, however: the city will need money from the Yukon government and the federal government to make everything happen. The city will also be taking $30 million from its reserve funds for this budget over the four years.

The full plan can be viewed here.

Transportation, CGC upgrades

Among several big-ticket items is $70 million for a laundry list of transportation upgrades, like road reconstruction and a bike lane connecting Two Mile Hill Road with the riverfront.

There's more than $18 million for upgrades at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre and Canada Games Centre, which includes $2 million for a pedestrian walkway to connect the two. The plan also includes a project to help reduce electricity use at the games centre. 

The plan earmarks $7.2 million for a "much-anticipated" town square in Whistle Bend. 

Cabott said the town square will allow for commercial opportunities, "a high quality gathering space," and will "increase livability" of the community. It's also hoped to be a space for public art, performance space, and will link to First Nations heritage and culture, the documents say.

Documents also show the city plans to take on a "comprehensive, community emissions inventory" with annual carbon emissions reports to council so it can "accurately address and reduce the city's corporate emissions."

Cabott said the capital plan is largely based on the wishes of the previous mayor and council.

"It's important to note that developing a budget for a city our size starts many months in advance, and as a brand new council, we are essentially voting to approve a budget largely shaped by the previous council's strategic priorities," she said.

The new council will start work on their own plans in January, she said.

City council passed the first reading of the 2022 capital budget plan at its Monday meeting.

With files from Chris Windeyer

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