Affordable housing for Crestview

An old trailer park in Crestview may be rebuilt as a new affordable housing subdivision. The developer, Bob Darling, is confident he can build homes for less than the market's current prices.

An old trailer park in Crestview may be rebuilt as a new affordable housing subdivision.

The developer, Bob Darling, is confident he can build homes for less than the market’s current prices.

“There’s such a terrible shortage of housing in Whitehorse and the prices have inflated badly because of it,” said Darling. “No one that we can see is looking after entry-level housing, so we thought that’s a very good market niche.”

Turning the former MacKenzie’s RV Park into a housing development will not only take a zoning change, but an amendment to the Official Community Plan.

The property abuts an industrial area.

Under the OCP, the required setback for a residential development is 200 meters from an industrial zone.

Darling wants that setback relaxed in some areas.

Without that change, the number of lots would have to be reduced, wrecking its financial viability, he said.

His plan would see 105 units built in two phases on the 4.8-hectare lot on Azure Road.

The first phase would be 27 mini homes – prefabricated units with about 1,000 square feet of floor space.

The rest would be townhouses and garden suites situated to take advantage of the “beautiful view of the mountains.”

It would be a bare-land condo development.

People will retain title to the land, but be required to pay a condo fee for things like snow removal.

The fee would be minimal. About $50 a month, said Darling.

“I just feel there’s a real need in Whitehorse,” he said. “A young couple in their early 20s, both with good jobs, working hard, can’t afford to get into the market and that isn’t right.”

The proposal passed first reading at the city council meeting Monday.

Notification letters will now be sent out to neighbours, and there is a public hearing scheduled for next month.

It’s the neighbours who are the big concern.

Both the Ta’an Kwach’an Council and the Kwanlin Dun First Nation own undeveloped parcels of land near the proposed subdivision.

If they raise objections it could hold things up.

But council seems receptive to Darling’s proposal.

“This development, to me, fits in to what we’ve been looking for as far as entry-level housing,” said Coun. Dave Stockdale.

“It’s just an exciting proposition,” said Coun. Ranj Pillai.

If this is successful, it could spur more private development.

“What then happens is we’ll see a truly competitive market, and that’s going to help control pricing,” said Pillai. “I believe in this city we need a win when it comes to private development, and this is a person who can provide it.”

Darling spent 27 years living in the Yukon.

He bought his first property, a lot in Porter Creek, for $315 back in the late 1960s.

In 1995, he moved back to New Brunswick where he has since built more than 800 homes with his company, Darling Development.

Though he moved back east, he continues to maintain ties to the territory.

His company is a part owner of the Kopper King Trailer Park.

A public hearing on his proposal is scheduled for September 26.

If everything goes smoothly, Darling said the first mini homes will be for sale by the fall of 2012.

“I am very hopeful,” he said.

Contact Josh Kerr at

joshk@yukon-news.com

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