City seeks input on Hillcrest plan

Hillcrest residents got a chance on Thursday night to see what their community plan might soon look like. The City of Whitehorse held an open house at the Yukon Transportation Museum.

Hillcrest residents got a chance on Thursday night to see what their community plan might soon look like.

The City of Whitehorse held an open house at the Yukon Transportation Museum to hear residents’ feedback on the plan, which has been in the works since the spring.

A key recommendation of the plan would reduce the maximum height for the residential single-detached lots on Dalton Trail, Park Lane and Hillcrest Drive from 10 metres to eight.

All other single-detached lots will have a maximum height of nine metres, including the Comprehensive Residential Townhouses zone in upper Hillcrest.

That’s where developer Kirn Dhillon wants to tear down his parents’ Steelox buildings – prefabricated housing built by the Royal Canadian Air Force in the 1950s – and replace them with up to eight new townhouses.

But Dhillon’s plan has riled a number of residents. Since then, the city has set about creating a community plan for the area, which is now in the draft phase and was presented on Thursday night.

“I mean, it sounds like they’ve done their homework,” said Pat McLarnon, a developer who finished a recent eight-plex on Roundel Road.

“They’re listening to people in the neighborhood and what some of them wanted. They can only do so much in an old neighborhood to fix it up. They’re trying to please the people in the neighborhood and it makes sense,” he said.

The plan also includes widening and beautifying the entrance intersection to Hillcrest, something that Sheldon Keobke is happy to see.

“I really like the idea of beautifying and fixing up those entrance intersections because they can be pretty bad, especially in the winter when people are sort of making up their own traffic lanes,” Keobke said.

But there are also some things he’d like to change.

“Myself, I’d say that as far as traffic calming and improvement of the intersections coming into Hillcrest, I agree with that, but maintaining a larger road width for the entire duration of Hillcrest or Roundel, I disagree with that. I think it should taper down to single-lane traffic. That will maintain traffic calming, but at the same time it will improve accessibility,” he said.

As for the height restrictions, he’s happy to see the Steelox area capped – for the most part – at eight metres.

But another resident who lives in the Steelox area, who asked not to be named, said she’s not happy about the exception for Dhillon’s development.

Eighty-five per cent of her neighbours signed a petition asking for an eight-metre height restriction to apply to the entire Steelox area, she said.

“I find it frustrating that an 85-per-cent voice was ignored by council in favour of one owner,” she said.

“It’s better to have it reduced to nine than left where it was. That’s council’s decision, but I just find it frustrating,” she said.

Residents have until Nov. 1 to submit their thoughts to the city. After that, council will take the feedback and go through the adoption process, said senior planner Mike Ellis.

“I think really, I’m really happy with the vision, the way the plan came out. Hillcrest conserves its village character – that was the biggest thing we heard,” Ellis said.

“Often when we do consultations, we hear ‘don’t impact my property values.’ But here, we heard a lot of people asking us to restrict what people can build, which sometimes does affect property values,” he said.

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