$2.3 million in funding sought by city staff for landslides cleanup, repair and precautions

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An aerial view of the landslide that took place in Whitehorse on April 30. City staff asked for $2.3 million in capital funding from city council to pay for the costs associated with the this and other more minor landslides that took place this summer. Staff also asked for $850,000 to begin engineering designs to fix a water line and a sewer line. (Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada - image credit)
An aerial view of the landslide that took place in Whitehorse on April 30. City staff asked for $2.3 million in capital funding from city council to pay for the costs associated with the this and other more minor landslides that took place this summer. Staff also asked for $850,000 to begin engineering designs to fix a water line and a sewer line. (Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Whitehorse city staff have asked council to approve $3.15 million in capital funding to pay for costs associated with the recent landslides in the city, and to start engineering designs to fix a water line and a sewer line.

Staff asked for $2.3 million to cover the costs associated with the landslides.

So far, the city has spent $1.6 million on building a protective berm on Robert Service Way, inspections, engineering and security, but more bills are expected for the cleanup, repair and precautions put in place.

Because the landslides were an emergency, city staff were authorized to spend first and get council approval later, which is why staff is now seeking the budget amendment.

Mayor Laura Cabott asked if funding was being sought by staff from other sources.

Interim city manager Jeff O'Farrell said the city is in discussions with the Yukon government about "various extraordinary costs that the city of Whitehorse incurred this spring, mostly related to the escarpment, but also partially related to water management."

He said it's soon to say whether the discussions will lead to funding from the territorial government.

Submitted by City of Whitehorse
Submitted by City of Whitehorse

Corrosion in water line

City staff also requested an additional $500,000 to go toward fixing a corroded section of the Cross Town Water Main and $350,000 to fix a crack in a sewer line located along the Tahkini sanitary trunk line just east of the Pepsi Softball Centre.

Staff discovered the corrosion in the water after it had found and repaired two "significant leaks," also caused by corrosion, last May.

"Based on the severity of the corrosion in this area, there is a high risk of additional pipe failures until such time that the pipe can be replaced in this section," Taylor Eshpeter, the city's manager of engineering services, told city council Monday.

He said the corrosion is contained to about one kilometre of the line and is not contaminating the water. He added the line is only 30 years old and the fact that it's already corroded was a surprise.

The additional $500,000 funding, said the city's director of operations Tracy Allen, is to be used to get a sense of whether there are any other areas of risk, and how they can be repaired before the city launches a detailed design into fixing the issue.

"We don't want to lose momentum on this project given the criticality of the infrastructure," said Allen.

The water line provides potable water to every serviceable neighbourhood in the city other than downtown and Riverdale.

Crack found in sewer line

Last June, city staff noticed a large crack in a manhole along the Takhini sanitary trunk line, which is in a steep section of the city's escarpment.

"There is a high probability of imminent slope failure that could damage or destroy this portion of the line within the next year," said Eshpeter.

He added staff are confident the crack appeared last spring, as a result of the slides on the escarpment.

The city built a temporary bypass at the time but wants to build a new permanent sanitary line next summer.

It's asking for the funding to start the engineering design work on the project.

City councilor Dan Boyd said the funding requests for the water and sewer lines didn't surprise him.

"It's unfortunate, but it's one of those things where … the city actually got off awfully lucky that neither one of these projects turned into a disaster," he said.

City council is expected to vote on the requests next week.

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