Letter to the Editor

Quarry would be a big mistake People living in Lobird, Copper Ridge, Granger, and Hillcrest should be fully aware of the city’s proposed…

Quarry would be a big mistake

People living in Lobird, Copper Ridge, Granger, and Hillcrest should be fully aware of the city’s proposed rezoning for heavy industry in the McLean Lake area.

The final public hearing for the rezoning is 7:30 p.m., Monday at city hall.

Anybody who is concerned should attend and speak.

Here’s why.

The rezoning will attract permanent large-scale heavy industry to the area:

At 169 hectares, the McLean Lake quarries are already the largest Industrial Quarry (IQ) zone in the city. IQ allows for heavy industrial concrete plants as a primary use and asphalt plants as a conditional use.

All IQ operations at McLean Lake are now temporary and on leases only.

The current rezoning is to allow Territorial Contracting Ltd. to relocate its concrete batch plant from Ear Lake to a new permanent titled lot at McLean Lake.

If the titled lot is approved, other IQ operators will want the same.

The area will likely become the centre for large scale permanent heavy IQ’s in the city.

Air pollution and public health risks:

Concrete batch plants and asphalt plants use toxic chemicals and create dust and smoke emissions.

Given prevailing winds, air pollution caused by IQ’s at McLean Lake will blow directly to Lobird, Copper Ridge, Granger and Hillcrest.

Concrete dust contains crystalline silica, designated a Level 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

The US Environmental Protection Agency states: “Asphalt processing facilities are major sources of hazardous air pollutants such as formaldehyde, hexane, phenol, polycyclic organic matter and toluene. 

Exposure to these air toxins may cause cancer, central nervous system problems, liver damage, respiratory problems and skin irritation.”

People in Hillcrest are already complaining about air pollution from the existing IQ on Robert Service Way.

The McLean Lake IQ zone will be considerably larger.

Yet, neither the city nor YTG have done a detailed assessment of what public health risks will be associated with large-scale permanent heavy industry and air pollution at McLean Lake.

City water quality:

The proposed IQ zone is in the McLean Lake watershed. This drains into Ear Lake and into Whitehorse’s drinking water supply.

Even though the city’s own Official Community Plan requires that: “A detailed hydrological and hydrogeological assessment of the McLean Lake watershed shall be undertaken prior to any further gravel extraction,” these studies have not been done.

The potential impacts of a large-scale IQ zone at McLean Lake on city water quality have not been properly assessed.

Economic losses:

Residences close to nature have increased values. Residences close to heavy industry have reduced values.

Beyond Copper Ridge is just downwind of the McLean Lake IQ. The city has identified the area for 2,000 new homes. Once these are developed, together with Copper Ridge, the areas directly downwind of the IQ will have well over 2,500 homes. At $200,000 per home, this represents at least $500 million in private-sector investment.

Any drop in home values due to IQ’s would represent a significant financial loss for homeowners and in tax revenues.

Yet, neither the city nor YTG have done an assessment of these potential economic losses.  

Community sustainability:

McLean Lake and its immediate surroundings are environmentally sensitive. 

The area is important for wildlife, and actively used for recreation and nature appreciation.

The lake is also centrally located in the city. With proper setbacks and greenbelts, the area’s terrain is ideally suited for future residential development.

Permanent heavy industry at McLean Lake will completely negate the area’s potential to accommodate future needed residential development in the city.

To promote community sustainability, urban residential areas and greenbelts should be located in attractive areas near the city center, such as the McLean Lake area.

Unattractive heavy industries, which create air pollution and consume large amounts of developable land, should be located away from the city centre.

Lack of public consultation:

Even though the city’s OCP states that “Further environmental studies, and management plans shall be conducted, in consultation with the local neighbourhood, prior to any gravel or mineral extraction on or around Sleeping Giant Hill,” this required public consultation has never been done.

This lack of consultation has resulted in poor information, and poorly informed people.

Despite these deficiencies and concerns, all indications are that mayor and council want to approve the rezoning as soon as possible.

If it goes ahead, it will quickly encourage the establishment of McLean Lake as the largest centre for permanent heavy industrial IQ in the city.

The city needs to be more responsible in its planning. At a minimum, it should at least do the technical studies and public consultation that the OCP legally requires it to do.

It should also properly assess the potential impacts of these types of zones on surrounding areas, including impacts on public health risks, property values, water quality and community sustainability.

It should also ensure that the IQ at McLean Lake is kept temporary and interim only, as specified in the OCP, and not made permanent.

The public hearing on January 29 may be the last opportunity to speak up on this issue. It is important that council hears from everybody who is concerned.

Bob Kuiper

Whitehorse

Councillors kowtow to industry

It’s bad enough when we drive down Robert Service Way and have to smell the stench from Territorial Contracting Ltd.

I can’t believe anyone in their right mind would even consider putting it upwind from so many subdivisions.

It just doesn’t make sense. Can you imagine what it’s going to do to the cost of health care through all the respiratory problems alone!

Nobody has conducted any studies to determine how it will affect our water, pregnant women, the elderly and infirm.

The council is supposed to work for the good of the people, not bow to industry.

I can only hope you give your heads a shake and put a stop to this nonsense. After all, that is what you were elected to do.

Kathi Holmes

Whitehorse

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