Infill proposal ‘misleading to the people,’ Whitehorse resident claims

People in country residential areas say the city should greenspace in their neighbourhoods

Whitehorse city council heard further concerns about proposed infill lots in the country residential neighbourhoods at the June 19 meeting, this time from residents of Mary Lake.

Lois Johnston, a delegate for the residents of the subdivision in question, came before council with concerns about what new infill lots would do to water quality, trails and wildlife in the area, and the inclusion of areas which were previously zoned as greenbelts.

“Residents expect that green belts are zoned as such for good reasons,” she said.

She said the way the city has presented the proposed infill lots through their survey is “misleading to the people.”

“Residents are being asked to complete a survey before they are being asked if they want the project itself,” she said.

Johston said she is confused about the push for infill lots in country residential areas, which is not in keeping with the city’s 2010 sustainability plan. There is no bus service in the area and building homes in those areas will force more people to drive, she said.

Of particular concern was the effect on wells and septic systems in the area if these new lots were to go in, which Johnston said would be left with twice the load they were initially built for.

“We want to know what studies have been done to support this (build),” she said.

Johnston said she requested a meeting about the issue, but she was told that “it wasn’t warranted to have a meeting at this point in the process.”

Director of development services Mike Gau said he couldn’t “confirm if that meeting was arranged.”

Acting manager of planning and sustainability Mike Ellis stressed — as he has multiple times in discussing the project over the last few weeks —that these lots are merely proposals, and that this is still a research and planning stage.

“It’s all collecting data right now,” said Ellis.

“My understanding is that council and staff has really just gotten started on this project,” said Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu. “We’re not in any major rush.”

“You say you’re not in a rush,” said Johnston. “But to us it looks like you are. We want to be asked if we want this to happen or not.”

These concerns mirror those raised by resident Craig Yakiwchuk of Whitehorse Copper last week. Yakiwchuk recently started a petition against the residential infill projects on Change.org, Stop the addition of residential lots to existing neighborhoods.

As of June 16, the petition was still active and had 151 supporting signatures. The city’s own survey on the proposed infill sites closed June 18.

Contact Lori Garrison at lori.garrison@yukon-news.com