time to fix yukons land disposition process

The Yukon government must fix its land disposition process. Until it does, land developers will be reluctant to acquire properties in Whitehorse.

The Yukon government must fix its land disposition process.

Until it does, land developers will be reluctant to acquire properties in Whitehorse.

And who can blame them?

Take the case of Barry Bellchambers.

The local developer wanted to expand his mobile-home park holdings.

He found a plot of land, got it from the territory and then approached Whitehorse for a rezoning application.

The city needs more low-cost accommodation, he reasoned.

Despite the need, a divided council nixed his request last week.

Residents in the vicinity of Bellchambers’ proposed development argued it would bump up against the city’s population density threshold and would rob the neighbourhood of greenspace, which is already in short supply in the area.

Their concern is valid, said city staff.

Which raises questions about the territory’s land-acquisition process.

First, there was little knowledge the land Bellchambers got was available. The territory currently works on an arcane “ask and you shall receive, unless you don’t” process for land acquisition.

The territory must do a better job advertising land sales, and available land should probably be first offered through a lottery system, to ensure fairness.

That’s step one.

Second, the city and the territory must work together better.

Having the territory sell land to people with the suggestion that all that stands before their plans is a simple rezoning application isn’t fair to developers or residents.

More joint planning is needed, said city councillor Doug Graham.

Until that happens, developers get caught in the middle of zoning battles.

And he’s right.

For its part, the city has improved its planning process, as was made evident by the Arkell and Stan McCowan proposals.

It’s time for the territory to work more closely with the city and refine the way it issues properties within Whitehorse.

Until that happens, there will be uncertainty.

And that’s bad for developers and residents alike. (RM)

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