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Concerns expressed over Porter Creek rezoning

Eight unit development proposed for 1308 Centennial St.
A house sits on the property at 1308 Centennial St., next to a new development at 1306 Centennial St. in Porter Creek in Whitehorse on Nov. 3, 2020. City council members were presented with a public hearing report on the proposed rezoning of the lot from the current Residential Single Detached to Residential Multiple Housing (modified) zone during the Feb. 1 meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Zoning to allow a proposed eight-unit development at 1308 Centennial St. in Porter Creek could soon move ahead.

At Whitehorse city council’s Feb. 1 meeting, members were presented with a public hearing report on the proposed rezoning from the current Residential Single Detached to Residential Multiple Housing (modified) zone.

Council had passed first reading of the bylaw Nov. 9 with the public hearing held Jan. 11.

While in-person presentations for public hearings are not happening at council meetings due to COVID-19, the city received two written submissions expressing concerns and opposition over the proposal.

The two submissions — from Mike Martin and Cam Kos — highlighted concerns around the potential building height, density, parking, light pollution and argued the proposed zoning isn’t consistent with the character of the neighbourhood.

In a report responding to the issues, city planner Sidharth Agarwal first noted the concern around the 13-metre height limit the zoning would allow not being in line with the character of the neighbourhood and impacting the privacy for those living in neighbouring single-family homes.

Agarwal pointed out the property is next door to a 13 m development with the zoning for a number of lots across the street allowing for buildings of up to 17.5 m. While the zoning would allow for 13 m, the building as proposed would be 11 m.

“Based on this, the proposed development conforms with much of the allowable height on the street close to the proposed development,” he said, going on to acknowledge privacy as a “legitimate concern” for lots behind the property on Elm Street.

To address that, he noted a three-metre vegetative buffer will be required at the rear of the property.

Under questioning by Coun. Dan Boyd, Agarwal said developers have a two-year window to comply with the landscaping requirements that call for the trees and bushes as a buffer.

The landscaping deposit — at 100 per cent of the estimated cost of the landscaping — would be forfeited to the city if the work is not done in that two-year timeframe.

Looking at the density of the property, the report pointed out with current zoning if the property were subdivided it could yield up to four separate homes.

As for parking — which would see one parking spot available for each unit along with a required one guest parking space (though three guest spots are planned) — it was argued in the submissions that the parking provided may not be adequate and could lead to spillover parking on the street.

Agarwal responded to the concerns in the report, stating residents are expected to understand parking limitations in where they live and that the guest parking stalls would be available and on-street parking could accommodate occasional spillover.

“It is also expected that given the availability of transit, recreation and other amenities within walking distance, as well as opportunities for active transportation, residents will be less reliant on cars,” he noted.

Despite that, Coun. Steve Roddick commented there can be on-street parking issues with multi-residential developments, and said he understands why it’s a concern.

Roddick also brought up the issue of light pollution, confirming there are no specifics on how bright lights can be.

It was pointed out though that under the zoning bylaw no direct lighting can point to adjacent properties.

As it was stated in the report to council: “It is important to recognize that lighting is a critical component of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). The zoning bylaw encourages proper lighting and a sense of safety to residents and pedestrians and discourages undesirable activities. Lighting is also an important component of winter city design to encourage vibrancy during dark winters and add visual interest.

“Acknowledging resident concerns, the city can work with the applicant on landscaping and lighting placement during the development stage to mitigate potential impacts on neighbouring properties as guided by the zoning bylaw.”

The report also addressed arguments that the proposed zoning isn’t consistent with the character of the neighbourhood, with Agarwal noting in the report that the city’s Official Community Plan designates much of Centennial Street as Mixed Use - Residential/Commercial, “recognizing it as a corridor for densification”.

“The justification for densification on Centennial Street is that it runs along a transit route to downtown, is a major thoroughfare with access to the Alaska Highway, is identified as an on-street bicycle route in the city commuter cycling map, and is close to amenities such as schools, parks, trails and a grocery store,” the report states.

Council will vote on whether to move forward with the bylaw for the rezoning at its Feb. 8 meeting.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Stephanie Waddell

About the Author: Stephanie Waddell

I joined Black Press in 2019 as a reporter for the Yukon News, becoming editor in February 2023.
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