Recently, the implications of Harper’s termination (temporary?) of due public process in Parliament started to sink in. And the resulting fear was enough to kick me out of my house and into a local forum for public debate: the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board’s Whistle Bend Subdivision Public Meeting.
It seemed important to add my voice to the public debate where it still exists.
Up for discussion were Whitehorse’s proposed plans for phase 1 and 2 of the Whistle Bend subdivision on the Porter Creek Lower Bench (between Mountainview Drive and the Mountain View Golf Course to the east of Porter Creek). The dominant concern was a proposed road running from Mountainview Drive to the Alaska Highway at the Kopper King Ã right over McIntyre Creek.
This road would bisect the only remaining east/west wildlife corridor left in central Whitehorse Ã one critical to the continued health of a variety of fish and wildlife, as well as for a wide variety of recreational users. Most people attending the meeting identified this as a critical concern.
Unfortunately, board representatives kept stating this proposed road fell outside the mandate for its review process Ã the review covered only the activities identified in the proposal for development of phases 1 and 2 of the Whistle Bend project and those activities that are “sufficiently related to it.”
We were repeatedly told the opportunity to comment on any possible road would come at a later date, when the demand for improved road access was already in place and much of the opportunity to influence the shape and positioning of any solution was already lost. How can this be considered sound planning?
It is a bit like saying, “Let’s build a nuclear facility capable of housing three reactors, but we’ll only use it for storage of surplus goods for the first five years so we don’t have to look at hazardous materials transportation routes, or waste management in the site-design phase.”
The expected impacts from future phases of Whistle Bend must be examined at this stage.
The city is planning to install the road and sewage infrastructure for phases 3 and 4 as part of phases 1 and 2. If they are so confident expansion will occur, how can they say the proposed access route to the Alaska Highway is not relevant at this time?
To ensure public confidence in the YESAB process, and in the Whitehorse planning process, the Whistle Bend project must state now whether the McIntyre Creek road is part of the development plans, or not. It must be assessed now, if it is.
Should the proposed route be found to have extremely negative environmental impacts, as I believe it would, it should be withdrawn and other options explored before YESAB grants approval for phases 1 and 2.
Wisdom is accumulated over time, just as environmental effects are Ã let’s recognize that in our decision-making.
And, thank you, Stephen Harper for pushing me out the door Ã you’ll be hearing from me.
See more lettes page 7.