Whitehorse cancels city hall reconstruction project

·2 min read
Whitehorse Mayor Laura Cabott in front of city hall on April 21, 2022. She said the city decided to cancel its reconstruction project after the lowest bid came in at least $10 million over budget late last month. (Jackie Hong/CBC - image credit)
Whitehorse Mayor Laura Cabott in front of city hall on April 21, 2022. She said the city decided to cancel its reconstruction project after the lowest bid came in at least $10 million over budget late last month. (Jackie Hong/CBC - image credit)

There'll be no major renovation happening at city hall this summer.

The City of Whitehorse is cancelling its plan to reconstruct city hall after the lowest bid it received late last month was more than $10 million over budget, Mayor Laura Cabott said Thursday.

Standing on the city hall steps, Cabott said that would have meant the city would have had to contribute $19 million to the project instead of $9 million, as it had budgeted. The rest of the funding would have come from federal and territorial sources.

The city initially estimated the project would cost $22 million.

"We know that with the instability of the current world market and the increasing price of commodities such as steel, rebar, wood, copper, oil, aluminum, we are not comfortable moving forward on this project at this particular time," she said.

She added the city made the decision earlier this week.

The city announced plans in June 2021 to tear down the old fire hall and original city hall building, both of which date back to the 1960s, and renovate the addition that was built in 1987.

It said the reconstruction project was a consolidation of several downtown construction projects, and included building a transit hub, relocating the cenotaph and upgrading the existing city hall building.

Looking at options

Cabott said the city is now looking at different options as some work that would have been part of the reconstruction project still needs to be done.

She said the city hall building needs upgrades to be brought up to standard. Those include, among others, replacing the roof, addressing the mechanical, heating and electrical systems and doing some work on the front of the building.

Cabott said she expects the work will cost "at least a few million dollars."

City of Whitehorse
City of Whitehorse

She said the city made a conscious decision to defer significant maintenance costs over the years because they were going to be addressed by the reconstruction project.

"If … you don't invest in your vehicle because you know you're going to sell it in three years and then you decide you're not going to sell it, you're going to have to start putting some money into it. So that's the situation that we are in," she said.

Cabott added that the Small Communities Fund, which had approved $15.7 million in funding to the city, was extended to 2027 after being originally set to expire in 2024.

"That time will now give us an opportunity to look at other options to achieve our objectives," she said.

She added the city also still wants to create a downtown transit hub and needs to find room for city employees who are scattered across the city.

Cabott said construction on any of these projects would not start until 2023 because they would require new design work.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting