Open letter to Whitehorse city council:
I would like to make a couple of comments to you regarding the recently passed bylaw to change zoning on four lots on Hillcrest Drive. I commend you for amending the bylaw to allow triplexes on each lot, thus permitting a 50 per cent increase in density, rather than the originally proposed 100 per cent.
However, all along I and other Hillcrest residents have expressed two concerns: that the proposed bylaw would allow development that was too dense and too tall for a one-storey neighbourhood. You only addressed the first concern.
Last week, I asked you to defer third reading in order to have time to determine an appropriate height restriction, as the current restriction of 10 metres is too high for a one-storey neighbourhood. The president of the Hillcrest Community Association informed you of its readiness to work with the city to determine appropriate zoning for Hillcrest.
Instead of providing residents an opportunity for collaborative discussion, you decided to ignore the height concerns expressed and voted on the triplex amendment. All but Councillors Austin and Stockdale voted in favour of the amended bylaw.
Of course that is your prerogative. But I wonder if you appreciate how inappropriate the 10-metre height restriction really is.
I recently visited a new addition to a steelox at the corner of Park Lane and Hillcrest Drive and measured its height. It’s approximately 8.5 m high. It sticks out like a sore thumb.
Yes, I know, this lot is zoned to allow structures up to 10 metres high. This addition simply demonstrates what Hillcrest residents have been saying to you – that the standard zoning height restriction is not appropriate in the Steelox area.
You had an opportunity to define appropriate height restrictions for the four lots on Hillcrest Drive when considering the zoning request. And you chose to simply pass the bylaw and missed this opportunity.
By approving the bylaw, you have opened the door for this, and future proponents to build triplexes that are even taller (1.5 m higher) than the unwelcomed development already mentioned.
I believe a better planning process could have resulted in a better decision. I believe you have missed an opportunity to build a better neighbourhood by rushing the decision on the bylaw.
It’s too bad that the entire Hillcrest neighbourhood will end up paying the price for your actions.