Think of the future
I have concerns about the rezoning of the McLean Lake area for quarries and heavy industrial uses.
I believe these uses are best suited for areas on the periphery of the city.
Let’s look at some of the industrial areas we now have in Whitehorse.
We have toxic soil in the area of the grader yard at Two Mile Hill.
We have toxic waste at the old tank farm near Hillcrest.
We have toxic waste at the Whitehorse dump.
We have toxic pollution at Marwell.
We have spent many dollars cleaning up toxic waste in the waterfront area.
The list goes on and on.
All of the areas listed are prime areas for development. The one and only reason that most are not being developed is because someone, at sometime, decided they would be great for heavy industrial uses.
These decisions have cost us millions, if not billions, of dollars in lost revenues, clean-up expenses and infrastructure costs.
Sustainable development calls for dense development near the downtown core.
The uses that generate the most traffic volume need to be near downtown.
Cement plants generate traffic for only part of the year and the volume is a fraction of what a residential development would be.
McLean Lake is a prime area for development and would have access to transit service on a Hamilton Boulevard loop.
This area has sustainable residential and commercial development written all over it, not quarry and heavy industrial.
Now you have the choice of either putting heavy industrial uses close to downtown or pushing them to the north boundary of town where there is also land identified for quarries.
What are the potential uses of the far northern end of town besides industrial development or country residential?
Not much. Is it serviced by transit for residential uses? No.
Is the north end of town likely to have a large commercial development or provide jobs for many people? No.
What are the potential uses of the area around McLean Lake? Housing, commercial uses, institutional uses, light industrial perhaps, retail uses, basically everything in the book.
Could it be easily serviced by transit? Yes.
Is it good for sustainable development? Yes.
Classifying McLean Lake for heavy industrial is shooting ourselves in the foot.
It is a decision that can potentially cost us millions of dollars just as previous heavy industrial uses right next to, or in, the downtown have cost us.
If McLean Lake is slated for a heavy industrial use, that limits what else can be done in this area. It is on par with the decision to put an oil refinery in Marwell.
When that decision was made, the decision makers did not foresee the Whitehorse of today.
When making this decision, imagine what Whitehorse might look like 50 or 100 years from now.
Also look at the history of heavy industrial development in Whitehorse and please do not make the mistake of previous planners.
Put heavy industrial on the outskirts of town where it minimizes its negative impact.
Road to reality
My job requires me to do quite a bit of driving and most of the time I find the roads to be maintained on a timely basis.
Recently I came across an exception.
On January 15, I drove from Watson Lake to Faro along the Robert Campbell Highway. The recorded road report message indicated I could expect “normal winter driving conditions” on the road.
The road south of Tuchitua grader station had been recently plowed, but north of Tuchitua, the road was covered with 15 to 20 centimetres of unplowed snow, for the most part, all the way to Frances Lake campground.
It would be extremely helpful if the road report message reflected reality — reality in this case, a single track cut through deep snow, reducing speeds to 50 km/h or less, with very poor driving conditions.
An accurate road message could save someone’s life.