City council shoots down outdoor sports complex

Whitehorse city councillor Dave Stockdale burst into expletives and was kicked out of council chambers on Monday night following a vote that denied the territorial government permission to build an outdoor sports complex in Whi

Whitehorse city councillor Dave Stockdale burst into expletives and was kicked out of council chambers on Monday night following a vote that denied the territorial government permission to build an outdoor sports complex in Whistle Bend.

He was one of three council members to vote in favour of the project, along with John Streicker and Jocelyn Curteanu.

But Mike Gladish, Betty Irwin and Mayor Dan Curtis, who was sick and participating by phone, voted against the zoning amendment, resulting in a 3-3 tie that defeated the bylaw.

“Your worship, for crying out loud … you voted for the amendment, so why didn’t you vote for the amended motion?” Stockdale yelled at Curtis, who remained silent.

 

RELATED:Listen to Dave Stockdale’s reaction to the vote outcome.

 

Deputy Mayor Gladish called Stockdale out of order and warned him that he would be removed if his outburst continued.

But that only spurred Stockdale on.

“I don’t give a shit,” he replied. “Fire me or do whatever you want.”

“I’d like to call a point of order and have Coun. Stockdale removed,” said Gladish. Stockdale then got up and left voluntarily.

After the meeting, Stockdale said he planned on speaking to the mayor this week and may bring the issue back to the table at a future council meeting.

“I’ve only talked to one other person that might support that motion,” he said. “I’m still thinking about it.”

Before the vote, council had spent an hour debating the merits of a scaled down version of the project, which was reduced to two artificial turf fields and a rubberized track on four hectares of land.

At a council and senior management meeting last week, council directed city administration to ask the Yukon government if it would consider amending its original application, which was for 7.17 hectares.

Currie Dixon, Yukon’s minister of community services, agreed to scrap the second phase of the project, which would have featured a 2,000-square-foot multi-purpose building and courts for various user groups.

But ultimately, that wasn’t enough to sway a majority of council members to green light the zoning amendment.

Coun. Gladish said he was still concerned about rushing the project through and felt it was unrealistic for the sports complex association to administer the facility without an office building.

Coun. Streicker, who said that today’s smartphones and tablets would make it easy to manage the bookings for the fields and track, felt confident the association would work with the city to iron out those kinds of details.

“And if we pass something here and get to the design phase I’m sure these groups will invite us to sit down with them and hear our concerns about how it gets developed,” he said.

Tony Gaw, president of the Yukon Outdoor Sports Complex Association, said he was disappointed with the decision.

“There was nothing said (at the meeting) from the three ‘nay’ votes that made a lot of sense,” he said.

“A lot of things that were said weren’t true,” he added, without elaborating.

“It’s probably best that I just wait and give the board an opportunity to have their say on this.”

Gaw said he had his doubts during the meeting about the outcome of the vote. Although the zoning amendment was defeated, it doesn’t mean the project is dead, he added.

In an interview yesterday, Dixon said it was a “rainy, snowy day for sports fans in Whitehorse,” and also expressed his disappointment with the decision.

He said he was surprised by Curtis’s vote, considering the two had met as recently as last Friday to talk about the amended application.

“I don’t know how much clearer I could have made it,” he said.

“I committed to them verbally, at meetings and in writing, that the facility would be on Yukon government land, we’d pay for the construction and own it. It would be leased to YOSCA and we weren’t looking for a dime from the city.”

Dixon said the decision means the territory’s soccer players will be missing out on a key piece of infrastructure that is sorely needed.

If the territory finds another suitable location for the sports complex, it’ll have to go through the same zoning process all over again, setting the project back a few more years, he added.

“I feel terrible for the grassroots groups of sports organizations that came together to address the gap in Yukon’s recreational infrastructure and had their proposal shot down by a mayor and council without any real adequate explanation as to why.”

Gladish also faulted the government for allowing the city’s 14 existing soccer fields to deteriorate over the years.

He asked his peers whether that same government could maintain two turf fields year after year. “So far they haven’t had a good track record,” he said.

It’s one of the arguments that ultimately swayed Curtis, who was still on the fence until the very end of Monday’s meeting, he said.

By voting in favour of the amendment but against the bylaw, he was sending a message that he supports the project, just not right now, he added.

“I think two fields and a track would be amicable, when the time is right,” he said.

“The presentation that was given to us at the council meeting by the Yukon government wasn’t very well done. For the extended care unit, it was stellar, very respectful, full of accuracies and assurances.

“I felt a lot of uncertainty with this one. I have to do what I think is best for the citizens of Whitehorse.”

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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