A 2.12-hectare parcel of land zoned for mixed-use residential and commercial development at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Rogers Street in downtown Whitehorse is now open for bids.
The Yukon government has issued a request for proposals for the lot’s development. The development is in line with the city’s Official Community Plan, which envisions higher density residential development with accompanying commercial use.
Premier Ranj Pillai addressed the project in a ministerial statement on March 9 noting the release of the land application package to the private sector for housing development fulfills a commitment in his mandate letter.
“Preparing the 5th and Rogers lot for development has required significant work due to the requirement for remediation and the recent landslides experienced along the escarpment, but this remains an area with incredible potential. The land application package will consider social benefits, such as much-needed affordable housing in the downtown core, unit accessibility and the participation of First Nations,” he said.
“The future developer will need to address the building of a berm, ensure compliance with a risk-based restoration permit due to previous contamination under the site, remove existing structures and assess the location of power lines.”
According to the land application package, the developer will be required to design, build and pay for a berm along the clay cliffs at the western edge of the parcel before development permits are issued for new buildings.
The application package indicates the berm is intended to deal with potential slope instability along the escarpment. The berm could be five metres high and 20 metres wide, and the City of Whitehorse requires a paved pedestrian trail along its crest.
Updated geotechnical work completed for the escarpment during the winter by Tetra Tech Canada Inc. confirmed previous work done in 2016.
The site has been eyed for development for years.
An April 8, 2015, news release from when the Yukon Party was in power is titled “5th and Rogers project moving ahead.”
During the 2021 election campaign, the Yukon Liberal Party pledged to increase housing availability, in part, by continuing to work with the private sector to develop the site.
“If re-elected, we plan to keep going by releasing 1,000 new lots across the territory in the next five years,” Pillai said in a March 2021 release.
Pillai told the legislative assembly on Nov. 16, 2022, up to 300 units could be built at 5th Avenue and Rogers Street.
“We believe that this density is necessary, and we think it is key to the market when we think about rental property,” he said.
Pillai cited the 2022 landslides and updated geotechnical work for the delay in getting out the request for proposals.
Following question period on Nov. 16, Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon wasn’t taking the slides as an excuse for what he described as inaction and blowing timelines.
“For them to try to use the summer slides as an excuse for inaction on this is disingenuous and, quite frankly, not fair to anybody who’s wanted to see action on site for the last five years,” he said.
Pillai told reporters it wasn’t “disingenuous.”
“That’s another personal attack,” he said.
“We want to see 300 units built there, but we’ve got to make sure it’s safe to build there.”
The deadline to submit a bid is 4 p.m. on May 4.
Contact Dana Hatherly at firstname.lastname@example.org