onday night, council paved the way for a concrete batch plant and quarry at McLean Lake.
The vote was unanimous.
Councillor Dave Stockdale isn’t concerned about the long-term impact of the decision on the McLean Lake watershed and surrounding environment.
“I may be proved wrong, but I won’t be alive to see it and if it’s my legacy, well, too bad,” said Stockdale.
Gasps could be heard from the assembled citizens. The chamber was almost filled to capacity.
Before the vote, six delegates pleaded with council to reject the rezoning application from Ron Newsome of Territorial Contracting Ltd., who wants to lease land behind Sleeping Giant Hill for a gravel quarry and concrete batch plant.
Newsome also wants to buy a small parcel of the leased land for his batch plant. This will allow him to secure a bank loan for the project. He now must apply to the Yukon government’s lands branch to purchase and lease the land.
Arguments made at public hearings on December 11 and January 29 were reiterated in the last-ditch effort to stave off Newsome’s application.
Council does not have to proceed with projects outlined in its Official Community Plan, noted some citizens.
As well, a “detailed hydrological and hydro-geological assessment of the McLean Lake watershed” called for by the community plan has not been done, noted Carole Bookless and Bob Kuiper.
The city is not following its own community plan in rezoning land at McLean Lake, said Bookless.
“Here we are, a year later, and everybody says that ‘shall’ doesn’t really mean ‘shall’ it means ‘shouldn’t’ or ‘maybe’ or ‘let’s think about it,’” said Bookless.
“I find this offensive because the city is applying the rules differently to different projects and the city is not allowed to choose to apply the laws differently in one case than another — that is the definition of anarchy.
“Who would want to live in a community where laws apply differently from day to day?”
The community plan says that if you want to extract gravel over here, you shall do this and you shall do that first, said Kuiper.
Those conditions were put in the community plan to protect the public interest and the problem is that, to date, neither of those two ‘shall’ clauses has been fulfilled, he said.
“While the city has shown great willingness to meet the interests of the developer (Newsome), it hasn’t shown any willingness at all to meet interests of the public, the very people they are supposed to represent.
“What about the mandatory condition that the watershed must be assessed in detail to protect our water supply?
“What about the mandatory conditions that further studies and plans must be conducted in consultation so the public interest is considered?
“According to what we heard in council two weeks ago, those are gone, the ‘shall’ clauses are just advisory … once you start tinkering with ‘shall’ clauses in the community plan, saying, ‘Well, they aren’t really mandatory,’ that is a very slippery, slippery slope you don’t want to go down.”
Explaining he’s no “eco-freak” and does not want to stop living to “save the Earth,” delegate Steven LeBlanc suggested the batch plant will be in the wrong spot.
“I’m pro-development if it’s done right … and unfortunately I feel that it’s at the wrong spot; McLean Lake is not the right spot for a concrete batch plant,” said LeBlanc.
“In this day and age, I don’t think we can afford to lose a place like McLean Lake, it’s a pretty pristine area that should be used for recreational purposes.
“We need concrete in the city, I can understand that, but my whole point here is that hindsight is always 20-20 and once this is decided, there’s no turning back.
“Sure it’s not going to destroy the whole McLean Lake area, but are you going to want to go paddle-boating on McLean Lake for a peaceful afternoon when there’s a batch plant just next door?
“Are you going to want to send your kids down that road when you know there’s going to be concrete trucks up and down that road?
“Twenty years ago, would you have actually thought you could warm up the planet by idling our cars? Probably not. And I wouldn’t have thought so either, and back then you would have looked kind of stupid driving a small car. And in 20 years from now, you’ll look pretty stupid driving a big one.
“Times change, and I really don’t think this area should be zoned Industrial Quarry; it should seriously be considered as a recreational area.
“So, please, when you vote tonight, I urge you to not vote for one man’s profit but for the whole city to profit, today, tomorrow and many moons to come.”
Before the vote, all politicians told the public why they were going to support the rezoning motion.
“I don’t think it’s any surprise that I will support this bylaw,” said councillor Dave Austin, who has a background in mining.
“I’ve heard it said before that if a project like this is done right, it’s not a problem.
“How can it be done right if you don’t give him a chance to do it and … since when is it a crime to make a living?”
“The proponent has done all his homework,” said councillor Jan Stick.
We need gravel and we need it close to home. And there is already an industrial quarry at McLean Lake and we already have designated quarry sites there, she added.
Some are worried needlessly about an asphalt plant, said mayor Bev Buckway.
“The proponent here is asking for rezoning for a concrete batch plant, not an asphalt plant,” she said.
“The batch plant and quarry will be governed by the fisheries act, the environmental act, the waters act, the quarry lease requirement … if we, as residents of the Yukon, do not believe that those regulatory bodies will protect us, then we might as well shut the Yukon down.”