Open response to the Official Community Plan article in the December 9 Yukon News:
In the article there were several negative opinions expressed about the Official Community Plan process, which is currently underway.
In particular, concern was expressed that the revised Official Community Plan won’t have the strength to enforce zoning decisions in the city.
There were several points missed or omitted by your reporter in this article that need to be addressed.
The plan is a very general land-use document that represents citizens’ vision for the future development of Whitehorse.
It is drafted in consultation with residents and used as a tool to update the city’s very specific land-use document Ã the zoning bylaw. The zoning bylaw must be compliant with the Official Community Plan.
After extensive consultation, there are a number of plan changes that are being proposed for city council’s consideration, which include:
The designation of areas of McIntyre Creek, Chadburn Lake, McLean Lake, and Paddy’s Pond as parks;
Encouraging the creation of community gardens;
Removing mineral staking from over 95 per cent of the city (which requires YTG approval);
Allowing taller buildings in specific areas of the downtown core;
Densification of existing neighbourhoods;
The creation of a green space plan that defines which areas are protected and where development can occur;
Changing references of shall in the Official Community Plan to may.
As we move forward, the public will require the flexibility to address council on land-use changes, such as those listed above. The use of may as opposed to shall doesn’t dilute the Official Community Plan, it keeps this high-level visioning document flexible, allowing the public to make their case to elected decision makers during individual land-use decisions.
Finally, the Official Community Plan draft contains a recommendation to remove the green space referendum bylaw. This recommendation is included because the BC/Yukon Court of Appeal deemed this bylaw illegal and the city is therefore legally required to remove it.
Mike Gau, planning manager