City to release planning document

Tomorrow the city will release portions of its revised Official Community Plan. The plan, which was last released in 2002, is used to guide the city's planning and development decisions.

Tomorrow the city will releaseportionsof its revised Official Community Plan.

The plan, which was last released in 2002, is used to guide the city’s planning and development decisions.

This year, the city held 21 public consultations in preparation for drafting the wide-ranging document.

Ideally, it translates citizens’ ideas into a land-use plan that will guide city development. This master plan extends into economic, social, recreational and political decision making, and will guide development over the next 25 years, according to the city planners.

Last year, the plan came under public scrutiny when residents of the McLean Lake area circulated a petition to prevent the development of a cement batch plant in their backyards.

More than 2,000 people signed Marrianne Darragh’s petition demanding McLean be designated a protected greenspace.

Rather than honour the request for a vote, as required under the Municipal Act, the city took Darragh to court, effectively preventing it, or any future referendum on a development issue arising from the Official Community Plan, from occurring.

A decision like this puts the democratic value of the document into question, said municipal expert Andre Carrel, who has lived in the Yukon but is now based in Terrace, BC.

“If you’ve really gone through the process of establishing an OCP based on the values and visions from the community, and a developer comes along and wants to build something that doesn’t fit the OCP then the developer needs to go back to the drawing board,” said Carrel.

“(It shouldn’t be) the community adjusting its values to suit the ambitions of the developer, which is unfortunately the way it happens in most cases.”

It is important that the citizens retain a sense of ownership over the planning document, he added.

Tuesday,city planners will update politicians on the process and present what has so far been drawn up for the Official Community Plan.

“We haven’t drafted policy yet. First we need to gauge council’s opinion on where they sit on specific issues,” said manager of planning and development services, Mike Gau.

He expects a first draft of the plan will be available in early December.

In the New Year, the document will be brought before council to discuss and it is expected politicians will vote on whether to adopt it in early spring of 2010.

Contact Vivian Belik at vivianb@yukon-news.com