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City of Whitehorse embarks on long-awaited operations building

Patricia Williams
City of Whitehorse embarks on long-awaited operations building
CITY OF WHITEHORSE — The new Operations Building in the Yukon capital of Whitehorse will replace an aging facility and also consolidate a variety of municipal services under one roof. The highly energy-efficient project is being constructed at a cost of $39.2 million by Ketza Construction and a team of largely local subcontractors. Construction is expected to be completed next June.

The City of Whitehorse is constructing a new Operations Building that will replace an aging energy-inefficient structure and consolidate various municipal departments and services under one roof.

Scheduled for completion in June 2019, the new energy-efficient building will house the city’s fleet maintenance, waste and water services, transit, engineering and other operations departments.

The project, which has been on the city’s radar for some years, is also intended to help meet growing community needs for municipal services in the Yukon capital.

City Engineer Wayne Tuck said the building, which includes a photo-voltaic array, is expected to exceed National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (NECB) guidelines by almost 80 per cent.

The code provides minimum requirements for the design and construction of energy-efficient buildings.

“(One of the city’s aims is) to provide an energy-efficient building that exceeds our building bylaws and NECB guidelines and that will reduce our energy use and carbon footprint and annual operating costs,” he said.

The project is being undertaken by a team that includes architects RDHA and Kobayashi + Zedda, structural engineers Associated Engineering, mechanical and electrical engineers Williams Group, Little Lady Landscaping, BTY Group and EnerSys Analytics Inc., a firm that in part provides building energy analysis services.

The 11,567-square-metre building, the third largest in the city, is being constructed by Whitehorse-based Ketza Construction at a cost of $39.2 million.

Most of the subcontractors are local.

Ground was officially broken in July 2017 on the one-storey, steel-framed building. The project is being funded by the federal Gas Tax Fund as well as by the city itself.

The building is being constructed at a site off Range Road.

As of mid-September, construction was about 60 per cent complete.

Tuck said provision of a building that consolidates municipal operations in a central location and meets the city’s long-term needs has been on the city’s wish list for some time.

Plans were expanded just before the project was tendered to accommodate the transit department as well as storage space for the city’s transit and other vehicles.

Tuck said this will reduce the negative impact of storing vehicles outside during the winter months.

Currently, equipment is housed in various satellite locations across the city.

In undertaking the project, the city and the Yukon government worked together to apply the business incentive program, which provides rebates to contractors working on eligible government contracts when they hire Yukon residents.

The program also provides rebates to producers of Yukon-manufactured products when used on eligible construction contracts.

The list of local subcontractors includes Arcrite Northern Ltd. (electrical), Klondike Welding Ltd. (structural steel fabricator), Nunatak Contracting & Construction (structural steel erector), Skookum Asphalt Ltd. (paving), AFAB Enterprises Ltd. (roofing), Adorna Landscaping Ltd. and Hvac Tech Systems Ltd.

“This is a large contract, impacted by northern winter weather,” Tuck said in reference to potential construction challenges.

Whitehorse is the largest city in the Yukon, the westernmost and smallest of Canada’s territories.

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