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Yk city budget: what's in, what's out
Millions in water and sewer, road work planned

Shane Magee
Northern News Services
Friday, December 23, 2016

City council spent about 12 hours deliberating its 2017 budget and passed a $81.5-million plan with $31.6 million for capital spending on things like roads, equipment replacement or studies.

"I think it's a budget we can be proud of," Coun. Julian Morse said as it was approved Dec. 12.

Yellowknifer rounded up some of the items that may affect residents next year or impact future council decisions, such as the city's water source.


Some of the largest spending comes down to the basics: water and sewer line replacement and paving of streets: $2.88 million for water and sewer, $2.95 million more for paving.

The federal government announced $16 million for infrastructure, most being spent on water and sewer work next year.

Federal and city funds will be used for water, sewer and paving work on a southern stretch of Franklin Avenue, on Forrest Park, Finlayson Avenue South, Lamoureux Road and Calder Crescent. The city will pave a stretch of Con Road that was dug up for water and sewer work last year as well as one block each on 51 Street and 52 Street.

The city plans to spend $1.75 million to pave Kam Lake Road from Finlayson Drive to Deh Cho Boulevard. A further $500,000 will be spent installing traffic lights and widening of part of Kam Lake Road and Finlayson Drive for dedicated turning lanes. Multi-use paths - essentially wider sidewalks for both pedestrians and cyclists - will also be installed along Kam Lake Road, council was told.

Compost expansion

Another expansion of the centralized composting program will take place at a cost of $700,000, paid for by the Gas Tax rebate.

The money covers another expansion of the holding area at the landfill for compost material as well as more collection bins for the downtown area.

The city has been carrying out a phased expansion of compost collection, distributing the green bins to several neighbourhoods per year. In 2018, another $150,000 is expected to be spent to add multi-family residential buildings and industrial and commercial buildings to the collection system.

Central heat

Council opted to go ahead with a $2.15-million biomass boiler system to provide heat to the Multiplex, Fieldhouse, fire hall, public works garage and community services shop.

It would be constructed between the two recreation facilities while a second boiler would be added at Pumphouse No. 1 across the street from the Multiplex.

The city had planned to install the first boiler this year but the only bid received came in more than $380,000 over budget.

Now the city plans to tender both boilers in hopes of a bid closer to the budgeted amount.

The city is also hiring a new person to maintain its biomass boilers.

The decision wasn't unanimous. Coun. Adrian Bell suggested to hold off to potentially consider whether the boilers could be tied into a future pool and other buildings.

"I kind of think this is premature," he said.

Coun. Niels Konge said the time is perfect.

"I'm of the opinion that the best time to make investments like this is when the price of oil is low," Konge said.

Other projects

Re-surfacing and widening a two-kilometre paved stretch of the McMahon Frame Lake Trail may be one of the more visible projects beyond roadwork. It's expected to cost $200,000.

The city is also expanding the Lakeview Cemetery into an area between the existing section and Bristol Pit.

Council cut the original $210,000 budgeted for the work in half.

The originally planned expansion would allow for up to 75 years of casket burials.

The city will also pitch in $20,000 for a gazebo that would be part of the boardwalk at Rotary Park

off School Draw Avenue.

The city is also paying $75,000 to gather data to help council decide whether to switch the source of the drinking water supply from the Yellowknife River to Yellowknife Bay.

Council requested more information ahead of making a decision to pay about $20 million in 2020 to replace an eight-kilometre pipeline on the lake bed that carries water from the river to the city.

Acting senior administrative officer Dennis Kefalas said the idea is to get a report with a very definitive recommendation on whether the switch to bay water is safe.

"At least if we can have some very tight scientific evidence ... it will be much easier for council to make a decision," he said.

Another study will examine the environmental risk of the effect of phosphorus in the city's sewage lagoon at a cost of $50,000. It was required by the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board.

A third study for $75,000 will assess the city's garbage system and look at long-term planning options for solid waste management.

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