Destruction of neighbourhood greenspace

Destruction of neighbourhood greenspace A friend of mine recently expressed sadness that, despite the fact the majority of Porter Creek and Crestview residents affected by the infilling are opposed to the destruction of their surrounding greenspace, Mayo

A friend of mine recently expressed sadness that, despite the fact the majority of Porter Creek and Crestview residents affected by the infilling are opposed to the destruction of their surrounding greenspace, Mayor Bev Buckway and city council consider this greenspace to have absolutely no value.

However, once the trees are cut down and a lot is developed, the city gets taxes, the builder makes a profit and, last but not least, the realtors get to make an outrageous commission when the house goes on the market.

That’s probably why there were contractors and realtors at the public meeting in Porter Creek when the city was supposed to be consulting with Crestview and Porter Creek residents on the proposed infill.

That must also account for why, when planners advised the politicians of the results of the public input, they very quickly mentioned the fact that the majority of Crestview and Porter Creek residents voted against infilling their precious greenspace.

Conversation between the administration and politicians regarding the infill plans then carried on as though this hadn’t ever been said.

I was a spectator at that meeting and couldn’t believe how they simply brushed this off like they would a nuisance fly and then proceeded as they had planned to all along.

To add insult to injury, they later attempted to hide the fact the majority voted against the infilling because the public (that’s us) wouldn’t understand what the numbers actually meant. Luckily, the president of the Porter Creek Community Association had attended this meeting, recorded the actual results and then reported them accurately to the media.

The rezoning and infilling the city is proposing includes changing an area currently zoned as Environmental Protection to allow a housing development. How can that happen? It must be a miracle. Yesterday this land was environmentally sensitive, but today it isn’t? That’s fantastic.

It also includes removing a beloved neighbourhood children’s playground on Fir Street. No big deal to council.

And not only does the city want to take away the neighbourhood greenspace, it also wants to zone some areas for multi-family use in order to increase the density. It would seem that the serious consequences to “densifying” a single family neighbourhood will simply be passed on to the homeowners in these neighbourhoods.

Despite how this proposed deforestation and densification will change the integrity and character of their neighbourhood, these residents will simply be expected to “suck up” the extra traffic, parking and noise issues resulting from this rezoning.

Why do the mayor and council go to the trouble of asking for public input if they already know they’re going to ignore it if it doesn’t fit their plans? Is this democratic? In fact, it shouldn’t matter whether the issue is infilling, densification or rezoning for a crematorium, the affected residents are entitled to be heard and taken seriously.

My last point is about Whistle Bend, and I mention it because whenever someone suggests not to develop in order to save greenspace he or she is called a NIMBY by the city and the many special interest groups who profit from development.

I don’t know how many Whitehorse citizens, or even if council, have seen what the Whistle Bend area looks like now, but I walk my dogs there and I can tell you, with acres of clearcut trees, it looks like an apocalyptic wasteland.

What once was a beautifully forested area has been destroyed and it strikes me that the city is being extremely greedy. With all the land at Whistle Bend set for development, the city is still harassing single-family lot and homeowners with threats of cutting down their small neighbourhood greenspaces so they can stick a few lots here and there.

The time, energy and money the city has expended on planning, dispensing information and holding public meetings to push ahead with infilling should have instead been directed towards getting Whistle Bend done as quickly as possible.

As far as I’m concerned, this council shows complete disrespect and disdain for its citizens.

If this weren’t true, why are they absolutely ignoring what the majority of Porter Creek and Crestview residents have said about infilling and carrying on with the process?

If the city keeps this up we will soon be able to take the “Wilderness” out of “Wilderness City.”

For anyone interested, the public hearing for this is Monday, April 11, at City Hall at 7:30 p.m.

Whitehorse is in desperate need of the ward system of municipal government.

We would then have elected representatives from each area of Whitehorse who would actually be accountable to those who voted them in.

Jocelyn Laveck

Porter Creek resident