The City of Whitehorse is considering an amendment to the current OCP 2010. It is proposed by its planning department to develop additional country residential lots in the Cowley Creek Subdivision.
Money generated from the sale of the lots is to be used to build a road off the end of Sockeye Place, a quiet cul-de-sac. The road is to provide truck and trailer access to the former KMA Speedway, so that approximately 100-134 members of the Yukon Horse and Riders Association can relocate their riding area from Whistle Bend. The cost of the road is estimated at over $700,000. The city’s plan is to develop up to five lots if the area is suitable. Less if it is not.
The current OCP has the area zoned as future planning “areas that need further planning beyond the life of the current OCP.” The current OCP states that future country residential lot development should be to the north of town and suggests suitable locations. It does not state, “Let’s develop any land that we want so that we can finance elite recreational activities, for small groups of people, who may or may not be City of Whitehorse residents.”
The area proposed for development is a combination of different land classifications that include High Environmental Sensitivity, High Wildlife Values, and is adjacent to Cowley Creek and its riparian zone. Additionally, the area has an established trail network that is used extensively by local residents year-round as green space.
During recent city council meetings that discussed the proposed amendment, it was suggested that “in-filling” Cowley Creek country residential area was acceptable. I think it would be prudent for the councillor suggesting this to read the OCP so as to understand what the objectives of in-filling are. I think that the “in-fill” suggestion is just another way of the City of Whitehorse to attempt to increase its tax base by developing any piece of green ground that they can, without regard for the OCP or the residents of Whitehorse. Instead of trying to grab more taxes, maybe the city could restrain its spending and stop giving all the money away.
The City of Whitehorse has lost much of its appeal due to the developments that the city has planned, or approved, without concern for maintaining the character of the city. Areas that were once attractive have now lost their charm. Areas where we used to walk, ski, or bike, are now occupied by expensive houses or other development. Green spaces are being eroded annually by amendments made to the OCPs. What good is a plan if you don’t follow it? In my opinion, it is a waste of the paper that is written on.