whats the big rush

Common sense almost prevailed. It came so close Whitehorse residents could almost touch it, but at the end of the day, as politicians are wont to say, it was kept at bay by a single vote.

Common sense almost prevailed.

It came so close Whitehorse residents could almost touch it, but at the end of the day, as politicians are wont to say, it was kept at bay by a single vote.

This week when Whitehorse city council decided whether or not to push the McIntyre Creek area development proposal to the next stage of planning, three brave councillors – Ranj Pillai, Betty Irwin and newly elected Kirk Cameron – stood up to support a delay.

Given the strong opposition from community associations, conservation groups and other concerned residents, they thought it was reasonable to slow down, step back and take a second look at the controversial issue.

But they were outvoted by Florence Roberts, Dave Austin, Dave Stockdale and Mayor Bev Buckway, who all favoured forging ahead.

So preliminary planning for the Porter Creek D housing development and road across McIntyre Creek marches forward despite the objections.

Perhaps the vote shouldn’t come as any surprise. The city has been gunning for it all along, stepping up its campaign as decision day approached.

Most recently, it turned to full-page newspaper ads to convince residents of the merits of the development.

First it laid down groundwork: the city has plenty of wilderness already, it said. Two thirds of the city in fact.

That sounds impressive but much of the city’s wild lands are wild because they aren’t suitable for development.

Then it pointed to the city’s five existing parks, starting with the biggest, Chadburn Lake, at 8,050 hectares. McIntyre Creek is second at 3,620 hectares followed by Wolf Creek at 1,100 hectares, McLean Lake at 195 hectares and Paddy’s Pond at 190 hectares.

And then it spelled out its vision for Porter Creek D: 200 to 300 homes as well as potential roads from Pine Street to the Alaska Highway and Mountainview Drive, bike lanes, multi-use trails and a bridge.

That’s in addition to the new Whistlebend subdivision which will eventually have 3,500 homes, demand permitting.

But even with the two housing developments put together, the city claims it will fall far short of the 6,000 new homes it expects to need within the next 20 years.

Although that figure is based on the current rate of growth, 6,000 is still an astounding number.

Even if it turns out to be true, it’s hard to fathom that putting the controversial McIntyre Creek area development on pause for a few months would hurt anything one way or the other.

So what’s the big rush?

This council’s mandate runs out in 10 months.

Some of the councillors may run again. Others may not. Even if they do run, they may not win.

If the interest in the recent byelection is any indication, there will be more than enough candidates to choose from come Oct. 18, 2012.

Should it even be making such a major decision so near the end of its mandate? Is it just trying to ensure the project is too far along for the next council to change course?

Common sense almost prevailed.

Too bad it fell one vote short.