Citizens try to drive home point, face detour

Opponents of an access corridor crossing McIntyre Creek hit a roadblock on Thursday. About 60 residents and city planners packed a tiny conference room at the Whitehorse Westmark Thursday evening .

Opponents of an access corridor crossing McIntyre Creek hit a roadblock on Thursday.

About 60 residents and city planners packed a tiny conference room at the Whitehorse Westmark Thursday evening to discuss the proposed first and second phase of the Whistlebend subdivision. The proposal is before the Yukon Environmental Socio-economic Assessment Board.

Most attendees wanted to challenge a proposed road to the subdivision that would cut across McIntyre Creek.

They weren’t successful. Because the road is not officially part of the Whistlebend project under review by the assessment board, their concerns about the creek will probably not be considered.

That sparked murmurs in the crowd about the process being “backhanded” and “sneaky.”

The subdivision, projected to grow over the next 25 years, will be Whitehorse’s largest and most densely populated subdivision when it’s finally complete.

Phase 1 and phase 2 will see more than 900 housing units built on the lower Porter Creek bench buttressing the Mountain View golf course.

In December, city planners announced that a road to the Alaska Highway was “necessary” to lessen the traffic burden caused by hundreds of additional cars using Mountain View Drive and Wann Road.

But that connector road, joining the end of Pine Street to the Kopper King, would cut straight through a 37-square-kilometre park the city wants to create to protect McIntyre Creek.

The area is the only wetland left in the city and is considered an important corridor for animals and birds. Disturbing that corridor would have a huge impact on local species, say critics.

At the meeting, planners were repeatedly asked why the road was necessary and why other routes, or an improved transit system, couldn’t be considered instead.

“The connector road has been recommended by experts,” said planning director Mike Gau, referring to an engineering study that singled it out as the cheapest and most feasible route geographically.

The road isn’t officially part of the project, but it was referenced in some of the documents people downloaded from the assessment board’s website.

“If it’s not part of the document, then why am I downloading all this stuff?!” said one angry resident.

City documents focus on phases 1 and 2, but reference future projects, like the Pine Street extension, to support future expansion.

“The connector road is not part of phase 1 and phase 2,” Gau emphasized.

“Once phase 1 and 2 are finished it will be re-examined – it’s a big investment to build that road,” said Gau, explaining alternatives to that route would be more expensive.

The road would only be built when the subdivision had achieved 25 per cent of its population and population numbers in other parts of the city had grown, he explained.

But residents, armed with studies in their hands, challenged him.

“It’s an interesting way to do it,” said one resident.

“To say that you don’t assess now, when you don’t have the demand, is a strange situation because once you do phase 1 and 2 you will have the demand, according to the traffic studies that have been done.”

A few minutes later he referred to a Whistlebend off-site servicing report to further prove his point.

“Existing development in Porter Creek, and the proposed Whistlebend subdivision, will benefit from an extension of Pine Street to the Alaska Highway,” he read.

“It is assumed that this connection can be provided between 10 and 25 per cent buildup.”

Although the connector road wasn’t initially included in the scope of the project, the assessment board will consider adding it to their review, said senior assessment officer Keith Maguire.

Issues of greenspace and geothermal heating were also discussed during the open house.

The meeting dragged on an hour later than scheduled. It was a useful exercise, said Karen Baltgailis, executive director of the Yukon Conservation Society.

“It did seem that Keith (the assessment board’s managing officer) will go back to include the extension as part of the assessment,” she said.

“And I hope that planners see it as being absolutely necessary to do a public consultation on the issue,” suggesting one could be done as part of the 2009 Official Community Plan.

Most importantly, communicating to the public and to city council that the road “isn’t a done deal” and that there are other alternatives to that road is essential, she added.

Contact Vivian Belik at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chloe Tatsumi dismounts the balance beam to cap her routine during the Yukon Championships at the Polarettes Gymnastics Club on May 1. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Gymnasts vie in 2021 Yukon Championships

In a year without competition because of COVID-19, the Polarettes Gymnastics Club hosted its Yukon Championships.

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Yukon Budget 2.0

If the banks that finance the Yukon’s growing debt were the only… Continue reading

Yukon Supreme Court Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan dismissed an application on May 3 seeking more transparity on the territory’s state of emergency declaration. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Supreme Court rules confidential memo can’t be used in challenge of state of emergency

Court upholds cabinet confidentiality after request to use internal government memo as evidence.


Wyatt’s World for May 7, 2021.… Continue reading

The deceased man, found in Lake LaBerge in 2016, had on three layers of clothing, Dakato work boots, and had a sheathed knife on his belt. Photo courtesy Yukon RCMP
RCMP, Coroner’s Office seek public assistance in identifying a deceased man

The Yukon RCMP Historical Case Unit and the Yukon Coroner’s Office are looking for public help to identify a man who was found dead in Lake LaBerge in May 2016.

Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine minesite has created a mess left to taxpayers to clean up, Lewis Rifkind argues. This file shot shows the mine in 2009. (John Thompson/Yukon News file)
Editorial: The cost of the Wolverine minesite

Lewis Rifkind Special to the News The price of a decent wolverine… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: border opening and Yukon Party texts

Dear Premier Sandy Silver and Dr Hanley, Once again I’m disheartened and… Continue reading

Fire chief Jason Everett (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City launches emergency alert system

The city is calling on residents and visitors to register for Whitehorse Alert

Two young orienteers reach their first checkpoint near Shipyards Park during a Yukon Orienteering Association sprint race May 5. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Orienteers were back in action for the season’s first race

The Yukon Orienteering Association began its 2021 season with a sprint race beginning at Shipyards.

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its May 3 meeting and the upcoming 20-minute makeover.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister talks tourism in “virtual visit” to the Yukon

Tourism operators discussed the budget with Freeland

Polarity Brewing is giving people extra incentive to get their COVID vaccine by offering a ‘free beer’ within 24 hours of their first shot. John Tonin/Yukon News
Polarity Brewing giving out ‘free’ beer with first COVID vaccination

Within 24 hours of receiving your first COVID-19 vaccine, Polarity Brewing will give you a beer.

Most Read