Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)

City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed at Whitehorse city council’s May 2 meeting.

Development incentive proposed

The developer of a condo project in the Whistle Bend neighbourhood could be the latest recipient of the city’s development incentive.

Pat Ross, the city’s manager of land and building services, brought forward a recommendation council approve the incentive for an 18-unit apartment style complex being built at 190 Olive May Way.

Three buildings on the 0.228 hectare property will each feature six two-bedroom units.

The project meets the criteria for the comprehensive residential multiple family (RCM2) development incentive, which grants qualifying developers development cost charges they would otherwise be required to pay. In this case, the development cost charges are valued at $39,330.

To qualify for the incentive, the density of a development must be 50 per cent greater than the minimum required in the RCM2 zone. In this case, the minimum density would require 17 units.

As Ross explained, the policy for the incentive aims to encourage smaller, denser housing in targeted areas.

“This development meets the minimum density requirements required to be eligible for an RCM2 zone development incentive and conforms to all city zoning regulations,” he said. “Therefore, the development incentive application is being brought forward for council approval.”

Coun. Ted Laking questioned what the parking requirements would be, pointing out that as Whistle Bend sees more densified developments, parking is becoming a bigger concern.

Ross confirmed the developer will be required to provide one parking space per unit.

Property expansion proposed

A Second Avenue property could be expanded to include a small corner section currently designated as unused road way.

At Whitehorse city council’s May 2 meeting, a recommendation was presented to council that would begin the bylaw process for the owners of 2050 Second Ave. to purchase the 41.92 square metre piece of land, the first step in consolidating the corner piece with the property.

The addition would ultimately see the property grow to 454.81 square metres.

As Pat Ross, the city’s manager of land and building services, explained the property owners are planning to construct a new building with space for parking.

“However, the large corner cut on the south east corner of the lot creates an irregular lot configuration which constrains the building design potential,” he said.

The corner piece was originally put in place as an offset from the rail tracks when the larger lot was established in 1950.

A light pole and a two-meter space around it on the corner would remain as city property.

“In accordance with the land disposition policy, the land would be sold at fair market values determined by an independent private appraisal,” Ross said, noting the value has been assessed at $23,500.

The owner has signed an agreement for the potential sale and if the bylaw is passed for the sale, the owner would pay a 10 per cent deposit.

The balance would then be due on Sept. 30.

Council will vote on first reading of the bylaw at its May 9 meeting.

Ideas for transit

The cancellation of the new city hall project could present some opportunities for the city’s transit system, Whitehorse city council members were told at their May 2 meeting.

Delegate Forest Pearson made a presentation to council focused largely on possibilities for bussing in the city.

The construction and renovation for a new city hall structure at its current Second Avenue location was cancelled in April after bids came in close to $10 million over budget. Included in those plans was a proposed transit hub that would have provided an indoor space with seating, washrooms and options for purchasing transit tickets.

When the city announced the project was cancelled, Mayor Laura Cabott highlighted the importance of working towards objectives from the project even with the full project not going ahead, highlighting the transit hub, as well as much-needed upgrades to city hall that will be required.

Pearson suggested the city consider ways to help better build community through that, pointing to the possibility of a transit hub at Third Avenue and Main Street with a change in bus routes so transit would run along Third Avenue rather than Second Avenue.

He pointed out the city’s parking lot at Main Street and Third Avenue is often under-utilized. A building there could serve as a transit hub, potentially with offices for city staff and maybe even housing.

Such a move would take buses off the busy Second Avenue, he said. With more people using Third Avenue for transit and perhaps cycling and walking, if it were to become more of a green street designated for such uses, there could also be economic benefits to more businesses.

“That’s kind of the idea in a nutshell … we look at something bigger-picture here, something that is community-building and really promotes other forms of transportation and makes it much more inclusive,” he said. “You know, right now if you’re taking the bus and you’re standing on Second [Avenue], it’s a pretty unfriendly place. There could be a much more people-friendly environment, and more inclusive space.”

A petition for heritage designation

An online petition calling for the ‘98 Hotel to be declared a municipal heritage site was the focus of a presentation to Whitehorse city council May 2.

Ryan West started the petition on change.org earlier this year. It has since drawn close to 5,000 people attaching their name in support.

As West outlined in his presentation and in the preamble to the petition, the ‘98 is one of the last remaining “authentic” hotel saloons in the territory, with the other being the Westminster Hotel in Dawson City.

The ‘98 holds the second oldest saloon license west of Winnipeg and opened its doors as the ‘98 Ballroom in 1943, he said. It converted to the ‘98 Hotel at the end of the World War II and in June 1951, the cocktail lounge opened. Since 1982, it has hosted a weekly fiddle night that continues every Thursday.

West said that in addition to the many people who have lent their name to the petition, the Yukon Historical and Museums Association has also indicated it’s willing to provide a letter of support.

West also cited the city’s petition, plebiscite and referendum bylaw where the city must call a referendum if a petition is received from at least 25 per cent of municipal electors, or 2,000 electors, whichever is less. While he acknowledged that his online petition would not meet the specific criteria required for a petition to trigger a referendum, West said he brought it up as a way of showing the “overwhelming support” for the designation.

The petition is available at www.change.org/p/make-the-98-hotel-a-whitehorse-municipal-heritage-site?redirect=false

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

Whitehorse city council