City plan not green enough: YCS

The Yukon Conservation Society thinks the city isn't going far enough to protect green spaces in its 2010 Official Community Plan.

The Yukon Conservation Society thinks the city isn’t going far enough to protect green spaces in its 2010 Official Community Plan.

In a draft version of the planning document released February, city planners announced they want to create five new parks in Whitehorse.

Those include areas near Paddy’s Pond, McLean Lake, Chadburn Lake, Wolf Creek and McIntyre Creek.

But sensitive land in some of these areas won’t be included in the parks, said executive director, Karen Baltgailis.

And that’s a problem.

The city wants to build a 3,700-hectare park in the McIntyre Creek area. But, at the same time, it plans to build a large subdivision smack in the middle of it. The proposed subdivision, Porter Creek D, could eventually house up to 1,400 people and block an important east/west wildlife corridor, she said.

“My biggest concern is that the Porter Creek D subdivision will squeeze shut McIntyre Creek as a wildlife corridor,” said Baltgailis.

McIntyre Creek “is also the most popular area for people to recreate and is home to some of Whitehorse’s only old growth trees.”

Baltgailis is also concerned about development in the McLean Lake area.

McLean Lake has long been a battleground between residents who want to see the area protected and those who want to see increased heavy industry.

The city wants to allow gravel extraction on Sleeping Giant Hill, and that’s too close to McLean Lake, said Baltgailis.

If extraction were to happen there, you’d be able to see the quarry from everywhere on the lake, she said.

You’d also be able to hear it.

“No doubt getting gravel from there is cheaper, but you also have to draw the line at some point and say, ‘Just because there’s gravel there doesn’t mean that’s the most important use,’” she said.

A petition in 2008, signed by more than 2,500 people, pressured city council to create a park around McLean Lake with a 500-metre buffer.

Now, that the park is in the works, the buffer isn’t big enough, said Baltgailis.

“There’s some places in the park where there’s only a 50-metre buffer. And it’s only 300 metres at its widest,” she said.

“That’s not nearly enough for habitat or recreational use.”

She points to the 2002 Official Community Plan which calls on the city to do detailed hydrological studies before allowing a quarry on Sleeping Giant Hill.

“Now they’re proposing to take that out (of the 2010 plan),” she said.

“It’s important to know what quarrying will do to the groundwater, especially because McLean Lake has a really complex water system.”

The city is also proposing to give the green light to a cement batch plant along McLean Lake Road.

Baltgailis expects there will be a lot of feedback in regards to the city’s plans for McLean Lake.

The group would also like to see larger buffers near Cowley, Wolf and Coucher creeks and Wolf Creek park connected to other green spaces.

The city is accepting comment on the proposed Official Community Plan until April 1.

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com