I still can’t believe that Whitehorse city council would abandon its very own industrial centre and extensively log the top of the clay cliffs for a new parking lot. Who came up with the idea that the best consolidation plan for the city’s public works is to actually leave the city?
Yes, Whitehorse is broad and spread out between the Carcross cutoff and the Mayo Road to Dawson. And yes, men and equipment must be able to service the entire area, and how much easier would it be if they were located closer to the Alaska Highway?
But wait, isn’t the Whitehorse compound for Yukon Highways and Public Works located right downtown and they keep the Alaska Highway open? And isn’t it city crews that plow the downtown roads of Whitehorse as first priority before tackling the far and beyond streets off the Alaska Highway after the Yukon crews have done their good bit? It seems that the wrong crews are moving out of downtown.
And to be stuck behind the commercial lots on Range Road and even further behind the reserved airport lands with only a single access road from the fire hall via the snow-dump gulley will provide no secure highway access. It’s a tricky, unserviced land that is less convenient than the existing bus lot near the Mae Bachur animal shelter or the Fourth Avenue equipment repair location.
Do we really need to log more of the wilderness at the top of the cliffs to simply store snowplows, graders, work trucks and buses? Equipment repairs and fleet maintenance are deemed to be commercial industrial use, not the public service zoning that currently exists here above the environmentally protected zone of the actual cliffs.
Increased surface runoff from outdoor vehicle washing could really be detrimental here. City operations belong in an existing industrial area.
I also don’t buy the economic argument being made. Older city buildings do not cost 2.77 times that of a brand new building to reinsulate, unless one assumes the new building will also be neglected for 50 years. The mayor can claim that city buildings are energy hogs but this is no pre-approved licence to get a new expensive building in the wrong location without taxpayer permission.
An operations building already in the designated industrial area should stay for now: this is appropriate. We need a city council able to follow its own zoning guidelines.
My conclusion is this: permission to log above the clay cliffs at the top of Two Mile Hill for a new vehicle storage compound, repair shop, parking lot and building should be denied. Application to rezone raw, unserviced land to industrial needs to be made for public review or rejected in favour of existing serviced industrial sites.
Alternatively, our referendum bylaw gives electors the right to petition council for a referendum on the amending of an existing bylaw or on any matter within the jurisdiction of council, including capital projects. An application to YESAB to log 16 hectares of forest may also be in order.
Whitehorse should be a jewel striving to remain the Wilderness City, at least with a few trees enjoyed at the main downtown entrance.