Plants and houses under construction surround the Whistle Bend entrance sign in Whitehorse on July 17. The City of Whitehorse is planning to talk to residents about the neighbourhood’s town square, which the city could start building next year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

City of Whitehorse to unveil plans for Whistle Bend town square

‘We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel’

The City of Whitehorse will present draft design ideas for Whistle Bend’s Town Square this month.

On Thursday July 19 and Thursday July 26, from 5 to 7 p.m., city staff will set up at the Whistle Bend pond and playground to talk to residents about options.

Kinden Kosick, planner with the City of Whitehorse, said staff have been speaking with residents to find out what they want in the town square, to be located along Keno Way.

Kosick said city staff have been told by the Yukon government that construction along Keno will finish this fall, with commercial lots being released next spring.

If that’s the case, Kosick said, the neighbourhood could see construction in 2019.

With that in mind, the city hired consultants WSP to take on planning and pre-design work, as well as to conduct consultations on the town square.

Public talks were held at Baked Cafe and Mountainview Golf Club. There was also a workshop between the City of Whitehorse, the Yukon government, and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council.

The result is a 13-page document of bullet points (it can be found on the city’s website), summarizing key themes and priorities of those in attendance. These include “coffee! – the importance of amenities that support relaxation and congregation,” “connectivity and universally accessible” spaces, and inclusivity.

“We heard a lot about cohesiveness and gathering places,” said Kosick. He said people seem to want the town square to be a place that works on a day-to-day level for those living in Whistle Bend, but also the kind of space that will draw residents from other parts of the city.

Kosick said he hopes having schools in Whistle Bend, along with the continuing care facility, will help build up a critical mass of people. The hope is that they will spend time in the town square on coffee breaks, and visit during off-hours to attend the markets, food trucks, and larger performances (similar to Arts in the Park downtown) planned for the neighbourhood.

Kosick also said safety and security are of concern among residents. He said that issue can be addressed through design that incorporates clear sight lines, well-lit areas, and avoiding blind stairwells.

Kosick said there are plenty of comparable cities that have already undertaken this kind of planning. Those existing designs may inform the Whistle Bend town square plan, with the added consideration of conditions unique to Whitehorse. These include accounting for the dark and cold in winter, as well as the way the prevailing winds change, depending on the season.

“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” said Kosick. “We’re trying to harness how those things work and how they can work in a Whitehorse type of situation.”

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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