Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Final two readings on rezoning will come forward June 15

Whitehorse city council is anticipated to vote June 15 on the final two readings of a rezoning bylaw that would move forward the potential of industrial lot expansions for three properties on Mount Sima Road.

In a public hearing report presented to council at its June 1 meeting, planner Kinden Kosick proposed council move forward to the second and third readings for the rezoning bylaw.

The plans would see a 1.02-hectare area behind three properties on the Mount Sima Road rezoned from Greenbelt to Industrial Service to allow for the eventual expansion of the three properties.

As Kosick told council in the public hearing report, three submissions in support of the proposal came in along with another expressing opposition.

Those in favour told the city the lot expansions are a good way to use land that would otherwise not be useable. One property owner in the area noted the lot expansion could lead to better drainage for their lot.

Meanwhile, the submission outlining opposition to the rezoning argued the change would not lead to meeting demand for more industrial lots and so was not needed. It also argued it would impact the trail through the area.

Kosick highlighted the history of the matter, recalling that when the proposed change initially came forward it would have seen a much larger area rezoned for the lot expansions.

Numerous concerns over the impact on the trail came forward at that time and the matter was sent back to city staff for further work. Staff then came back with the current proposal.

“Administration reduced the amendment area to ensure that the trail would be retained,” Kosick stated.

Questioned by Coun. Laura Cabott following his presentation, Kosick confirmed that if the lot expansions go ahead some of the industrial area will be visible from the trail.

Coun. Dan Boyd also commented that trail users will likely see the backyards of the expanded lots, but noted his initial concern when the rezoning was first brought forward has been mitigated with the reduced size of the area.

Coun. Samson Hartland, meanwhile, said he’s pleased city staff were able to find a compromise between protecting the trail network while also allowing for industrial lots to expand.

Plan would establish new transit routes

The City of Whitehorse could be taking $50,000 from its reserves until gas tax funding comes through for a study that aims to look at modernizing the city’s bus system.

The proposal came forward at Whitehorse city council’s June 1 meeting with acting transit manager Jason Bradshaw stating an application for gas tax funding is in the works and the project is believed to be an eligible expense, but for the project to get underway, funding will have to be taken out of the city’s capital reserve, a move that requires a vote by council.

Bradshaw said Stantec Consulting submitted the successful proposal and city staff are aiming to award the contract.

The project comes out of the city’s 2018 Transit Master Plan, which included a recommendation to “improve existing route alignment and scheduling to better match demand.”

“Through the development of the plan, it was observed that the existing route structure artificially forces transfers downtown, decreases route directness and increases travel time,” Bradshaw said. “It was also observed that limited frequency of service is a barrier to spontaneous use of transit.”

It will likely be January before any changes to routes are implemented. A timeline of the plans show data collection and analysis will happen this month with community engagement and staff consultation set for June and July.

A draft route plan would then be developed in August and presented in September before an implementation and monitoring plan are done in October. Implementation would be the final part of the plan beginning in January.

While it will be June 15 before council votes on whether to use reserves for the project, a number of council members spoke in favor of the move at the June 1 meeting.

As Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu said, transit use has been down due to COVID-19, but as businesses and services begin reopening it will be important to get riders back on the bus and a new plan will be a major part of that as well as having the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Councillors Jan Stick and Steve Roddick also voiced their support to move forward on the plan with Roddick adding he’s hopeful it will open more doors to transit investments and improvements for the system.

Formalizing AYC roles

Whitehorse city council members are expected to rescind one councillor’s previous role on the Association of Yukon Communities board.

Councillors Jocelyn Curteanu and Jan Stick have been serving on the board of the organization that represents communities throughout the territory.

In May, Curteanu resigned from her role on the executive of the organization and moved into the role as City of Whitehorse council representative while Stick moved from the role of council representative to the executive.

With that, it’s proposed the city now rescind the appointment of Stick as city representative and appoint Curteanu to the role.

“Rescinding Coun. Stick’s appointment will not affect her role on the AYC executive committee, and the appointment of Coun. Curteanu as a city representative will fill the vacancy in the city’s representation,” it was highlighted in a report to council.

Council will vote on the appointments June 15.

Councillors denounce racism

In a speech at council’s June 1 meeting, Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu addressed racism and the civil unrest happening in the United States in light of the George Floyd’s May 25 death while being arrested.

“I’m sure we can all agree that racism is everywhere but there is also a general consensus that racism is unjust, inexcusable and harmful, not just to the individual, but to society as a whole — and therefore cannot be tolerated,” she said, after noting Whitehorse is a member of the International Coalition of Inclusive Communities.

Curteanu said it’s been disheartening to watch the violence that is happening and wanted to extend her sympathy to those impacted.

Coun. Steve Roddick also echoed those sentiments and thanked Curteanu for raising the issue at the meeting.

He reflected on his own background as a white settler who has benefitted from colonialism, noting he recognizes the importance of listening and learning from others to gain a greater understanding.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Whitehorse city council