‘Brave’ developer eyes greenspace

In a move councillor Bev Buckway referred to as “brave,” developer Daryl Novakowski is proposing to develop 28 single-family lots in a…

In a move councillor Bev Buckway referred to as “brave,” developer Daryl Novakowski is proposing to develop 28 single-family lots in a Porter Creek area that’s currently zoned for greenspace.

The area, to the east of Holly Street, was surveyed and stamped for residential development in 1962.

It was changed to greenspace under the 2002 Official Community Plan because the bedrock in the area made it too expensive to develop, Novakowski told council this week.

He has been planning this development for 10 months and is prepared to absorb the high costs of development. But, so far, the plan hasn’t gotten off the ground.

The area is owned by the Yukon government.

Novakowski is asking the territory to hand the land over to the city so he can enter into a contract with the city to develop the land.

“I’ve decided to come forward now because I’m tired of being passed back and forth like a volleyball between the city and YTG,” said Novakowski.

“I’m stuck in a loophole.”

Both mayor Ernie Bourassa and councillor Dave Stockdale said they are against the proposal.

“We’ve been beaten up pretty badly over similar requests. Do you think we should get beaten up again?” asked Bourassa, referring to public outcry over the city’s plan to for infill development in Porter Creek greenspace last year.

“The city is taking heat over that area in Porter Creek because they’re trying to develop true greenspace,” said Novakowski.

“I’m taking lots that were designated for 40 years and trying to convert them.”

There are currently no plans on city books to develop the land, said city manager Dennis Shewfelt on Tuesday.

The request for zoning change could come back to council next week if enough councillors support the motion. (LC)

McLean Lake sanctuary designation under debate

McLean Lake residents’ push to halt industrial development near the lake has hit a snag.

And now, under a new zoning bylaw, the city could see a gravel quarry and cement batch plant built on the environmentally sensitive land.

The area was designated a game sanctuary in 1953 because of its high environmental values and unique wetland features, say researchers from the McLean Lake Resident’s Association.

But the protected status was repealed in 1958, according to the Yukon Justice department.

Last fall, government researchers scoured Yukon statutes and discovered a 1951 ordinance proclaiming McLean Lake a game sanctuary, which was followed by a commissioner’s order in 1953, said Steven Horn, Justice’s chief legislative council.

“The information that the (McLean Lake) Community Association gathered missed the fact that, in 1958, the 1951 ordinance was repealed completely and totally,” added Horn.

“It’s our opinion that it was never formally repealed,” said McLean Lake spokesperson Sue Moodie, who is asking the Justice department for a document proving the area is no longer protected.

“But regardless of whether the game sanctuary is in effect, it shows there’s been a long interest in this area as a wildlife habitat so, since the ‘50s, it’s been recognized as something that needs to be protected.”

The new zoning bylaw will come to council for public hearing on February 27. (LC)

The bigger they are the higher they’re taxed

Country residential lot owners will shell out a lot more in property taxes this year.

And the city needs to tell them to expect a much higher increase than two per cent, councillor Doug Graham told council this week.

The average country residential property owner will see a 7.3 per cent increase in their property taxes, which translates into a $125 rise from last year, according to city finance manager Ray Goruick.

Compare that to the two per cent, or $31 hike, for other residential property owners.

The Yukon government assesses property values in the territory every two years, then municipal property taxes are levied as a percentage of the total value — the higher the value, the higher the taxes.

“This year, when they re-did the assessments, one of the things they were doing was bringing land up to market value,” said Graham on Tuesday.

“So anyone with country residential lots, which means big lots, is going to find a much higher assessment this year overall.

“We need to be fair and upfront with them.” (LC)

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