Clearcut in Takhini

Clearcut in Takhini You may want to visit Takhini North to see the large changes happening in our neighbourhood. Last week, we listened to chainsaws clearing the white spruce and lodgepole pine forest that used to separate our homes from Range Road. Thi

You may want to visit Takhini North to see the large changes happening in our neighbourhood.

Last week, we listened to chainsaws clearing the white spruce and lodgepole pine forest that used to separate our homes from Range Road. This forest clearing is in preparation for infrastructure upgrades (sewage, roads, etc.) and housing development.

As many of you know, the city has worked for many years with Takhini North residents to prepare for this time. This does not negate the fact that it is very, very difficult for many of us to watch.

Thursday, as the chainsaws were screaming in the background, I watched several yellow-rumped warblers fighting in my yard, showing territorial displays – someone has lost a home. There were also many dark-eyed juncos wandering slowly through the clearcut areas. It is likely they had started nesting in that forest prior to the cutting.

The school bus stops right in the middle of the new clearcut and three different children expressed to me their sadness about seeing the trees cut down. I watched those kids playing hide-and-seek amongst the trees this winter – the best playground any child could hope for.

City planning is a complicated issue and I won’t be able to properly address everything here. I am not opposed to infilling if it means that Whitehorse reduces its footprint on the planet and stops creating new car-dependent subdivisions on the outskirts of town. Our highest priority should be to use abandoned/vacant building sites before clearing green spaces.

I do question the level of care that has been taken to determine which of the trees needed to be cut here (some of the trees, upon inspection, were more than 50 years old). In a neighbourhood with many children, I think narrow streets are best – they encourage drivers to reduce their speed (I do recognize that city service vehicles like the convenience of wider streets).

I heard Karen Baltgailis of the Yukon Conservation Society on CBC Radio One this morning urging city residents to make comments about the Official Community Plan before Tuesday. Specifically, she mentioned the city’s wish to abolish the required referendums when greenbelt areas are being slated for development.

This is such an important topic – the voice of each citizen should be heard for every patch of forest. Peaceful neighbourhoods and quality of life are worth it.

I urge everyone to send comments to the city on this important issue. Let’s continue discussing this.

Jennifer Line

Whitehorse