It’s back to the drawing board — or the public hearing in this case — for Whitehorse city council as members continue considering the long-term vision for the city.
After council voted Oct. 11 on several amendments to the proposed Official Community Plan (OCP) that would establish the vision for the city to 2040, the stage is set for a second public hearing on the document.
The amendments came forward ahead of when council had been set to vote on second reading. As city staff informed council, when there are substantial amendments made on a proposal that was subject to a public hearing, a second public hearing must be held.
That means residents can once again come forward to speak to the newly amended OCP as proposed, though it’s unclear exactly when that will happen.
As city manager Jeff O’Farrell explained, the earliest date a second public hearing could be held — given public notice requirements — would be Nov. 14. However, it may take longer.
“If, for some reason, we’re unable to make some of the text changes or, more specifically, the mapping changes in time, then it would fall to Nov. 28,” O’Farrell said.
Council spent more than two and a half hours discussing, debating and voting on various aspects of the plan and potential changes to it.
Among the changes are new building height limits for downtown to a maximum of 30 metres in some areas; the designation for the Stevens Quarry area moving to future planning from quarrying; the removal of a road study through the McIntyre Creek area; studying short term rentals in the city; and greater planning for increased traffic between the Porter Creek/Whistle Bend area and downtown via Mountain View Drive, Copper Road and Quartz Road.
Each council member who brought forward a proposed change largely argued the proposal came out of what they heard residents wanted to see in the plan that will take the city through two decades.
There was disagreement on a number of the changes.
In the case of Stevens Quarry, for example, debate ensued over the city’s need for gravel for increased development as the city grows versus calls from area residents to take quarrying off the table due to impacts on the nearby environment, agriculture in the area and potential for noise and dust. Mayor Laura Cabott and Coun. Dan Boyd voted against moving to a future planning designation while the remaining five members of council voted in favour.
Boyd was the only member of council to vote against the full bylaw after it had been amended, noting there are some parts he doesn’t agree with and didn’t want to see changed.
“That said, I appreciate that’s where council is going to go with it and I very much look forward to having the public hearing and response to all of the changes that have been put on the table tonight,” he said.
O’Farrell said city staff would be working on plans to ensure there’s communication with the public on the changes and a date for the new hearing.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org