City may scale back sports complex plans

City council has decided to test the Yukon government's appetite for changes to the boundaries of its proposed outdoor sports complex in Whistle Bend.

City council has decided to test the Yukon government’s appetite for changes to the boundaries of its proposed outdoor sports complex in Whistle Bend.

At a council and senior management meeting held yesterday, the city’s director of development services, Mike Gau, presented a phased zoning approach as an alternative to consider.

As it stands, the government wants to build two soccer fields, a rubberized track and bleachers in the first phase of its $7-million project.

The second phase would feature a change room facility, office building and courts for various user groups, such as Tennis Yukon and the Special Olympics.

But the city needs to pass a zoning amendment bylaw for the 7.17-hectare parcel of land before the government can move forward with the project.

Phased zoning would mean that council would grant permission to build two fields, or just one, for the time being.

The government has committed to pay for the first phase of the project, but not to the second, Gau said.

Members of council voted in favour of having Gau present the new options to the government and report back the results at next Monday’s meeting.

The Yukon Outdoor Sports Complex Association, which would run the facility, has already agreed to consider a phased approach to zoning, Gau said.

The bylaw was up for second and third reading on April 13 but city council ultimately postponed it for two weeks, citing a lack of technical information.

Mayor Dan Curtis asked if there was a ballpark figure for the cost of phase one, and Gau replied it was around $5.5 million.

“But with a big asterisk on this estimate,” he said.

“It dates back to the feasibility study in 2014, before the site was found and before the design was done. That number will either go up or down.”

Coun. Mike Gladish said he has concerns about the facility being fenced off to the public. He asked if the proponents had considered leaving one field with minimal or no fencing, so it could be accessible to the public during off-hours.

Gau said that’s an issue the city could bring up as a condition to approve the zoning.

Linda Rapp, the city’s director of community and recreation services, also made a presentation to council yesterday.

In it, she said that there had been no public process that indicated there was a need for artificial turf fields in the city.

“Usually there’s an extensive public process, and I think back to the process and pressure the city faced when asked to include an indoor soccer field in the design of the Canada Games Centre,” she said.

The indoor field at the centre isn’t always in use, and its season could be extended to allow for skill development and to give outdoor fields a chance to regenerate longer, Rapp said.

About 14 schools in Whitehorse have fields, she said.

“Although there are about 1,300 registered soccer players, I’d say existing fields that are attached to schools could pretty much accommodate the majority of use,” she added.

She also shared the same concerns about the fencing around the complex and the impact that would have on the neighbourhood.

“We need to find a way to get community buy-in – having a sports complex that is fenced off with all the community looking in at a lovely green field they don’t have access to, it’s not the best way to go.”

Second and third reading of the zoning amendment bylaw is scheduled for Monday night.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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