Whitehorse city council has decided it needs more information on the future development of the old Macaulay Lodge site before moving forward with rezoning.
The former Macaulay Lodge extended care facility was shut down in 2019 and demolished in 2022 with the Yukon government, which owns the property, stating it planned to use the site for higher density housing. The government plans to sell the property after it is rezoned.
A public hearing report on the rezoning of the site was presented at council’s April 3 meeting. As noted in a summary report that came forward at the April 11 meeting, council members raised concerns about the need for residential housing, wanting more clarity on what would be allowed and required for commercial and residential developments under the proposed rezoning.
Concerns involved building heights, the history and plans for the area currently zoned as a park, ownership of adjacent land and the types of housing and commercial activity that would be allowed. It was recommended the bylaw be brought forward for second and third readings.
Some councillors wanted clarity on securing the residential component.
Coun. Michelle Friesen said she was surprised about the possibilities of what this lot could look like. While she is not opposed to businesses being there, she called for more certainty on the residential side.
“A lot of the folks who came to speak to us were concerned about seniors’ housing, and so my vision when I was thinking about this was having some commercial on the bottom floor and then some accessible senior units,” she said.
The Yukon Council on Aging has called on the city to pause the proposed rezoning of the site in Riverdale as the organization tries to convince the territorial government that the land should be used for seniors’ housing.
Coun. Kirk Cameron also wondered how the space might end up shaping up.
“Most of that is out of our control because this is a matter that — my sense is — Yukon government will put it out to tender. Private sector will decide how they will treat this development.”
Coun. Ted Laking said he is pleased the lot will be used; however he has concerns about traffic and the impacts on services such as water and sewage systems, public transit and schools.
Mayor Laura Cabott noted this is a relatively small development, so she doesn’t share all those concerns.
She agrees with many councillors about the desire to ensure the building is primarily residential, in line with existing city plans.
“There’s no point in proceeding ahead in making zoning amendments or passing something that the owner is not going to then develop,” she said.
Council unanimously agreed to send the zoning amendment bylaw back to the administration for more information.
— With files from Stephanie Waddell
Contact Dana Hatherly at firstname.lastname@example.org