The road into Whitehorse’s tank farm, a former White Pass fuel storage area, near the Valleyview neighbourhood. At Whitehorse city council’s June 1 meeting, members sent back to administration a proposal to change the Official Community Plan designation for the land from Residential - Urban to Mixed-Use - Industrial/Commercial rather than moving on to second reading. (Yukon News file)

Council holds off on designation decision for portion of the tank farm

Decision comes in light of notice of violation to project proponent

It could be a long time before the City of Whitehorse moves ahead with second reading of a change that would allow for quarrying on a 7.3-hectare parcel of land in the former tank farm near Wasson Place.

At Whitehorse city council’s June 1 meeting, members sent back to administration a proposal to change the Official Community Plan designation for the land from Residential – Urban to Mixed-Use – Industrial/Commercial rather than moving on to second reading.

The moves comes after the proponent for the proposed development of the site was issued a violation notice for hauling out material from the site.

“This hauling was done without authorization from the City and enforcement action is proceeding,” city planner Kinden Kosick stated in a report to council. “A Notice of Violation was issued and hauling ceased as of May 24th. Administration proposes that until this matter is explored further and addressed, the advancement of the proposed amendment through the bylaw process should be paused.”

Kosick’s recommendation was part of a public hearing report for the proposed OCP change.

While the city is not permitting the public into council chambers for public hearings, residents can provide their input through written submissions with 69 such submissions coming in.

Just three expressed support for the change with 58 stating their opposition and another eight expressing concerns.

Among the issues residents brought forward was the impact on green space, buffers and recreation; arguments that the proposed designation wouldn’t be appropriate for the area; arguements that quarrying would be disruptive for nearby residents; and concerns around regulation and legislative issues.

After highlighting the concerns in the report, Kosick pointed out any OCP amendment would be the first of many steps before the land could be used for industrial or commercial use.

“If council agrees that commercial/industrial type uses are acceptable in this location, the details of how this is achieved could be implemented through a zoning bylaw amendment, as well as a development agreement registered through a subdivision approval,” Kosick stated. “However, basic restrictions could also be added to the OCP through policy amendments.”

He went on to note that regulations placed on zoning or the development agreement could limit or restrict the amount of material to be relocated; limit on-site processing, regulate the hours of operation; and restrict what uses would be allowed in the area.

While Kosick proposed the recommendation that second reading not move forward until the issue of the notice of violation is addressed, he also noted that “…. administration remains of the view that from a planning perspective the OCP amendment proposal is sound and is the best land use designation for the subject area.”

Duirng discussion among council following the report, it was noted that regardless of the zoning a large amount of the land is unstable and work will be required for it.

Coun. Samson Hartland also confirmed that a letter bearing a number of signatures from those in favour of the OCP change had come in, but was not included in the report because it was recieved after the deadline. Because it came in after the deadline for submissions, the letter is also not part of what can be considered by council in its decision.

Hartland also pointed out the high demand for industrial land in the city, adding though there’s work to do on the matter before a decision can be made.

Other council members wondered about the ability to move a large volume of material in a matter of months and other details of the proposal.

As Coun. Jan Stick put it, there’s “a big decision ahead of us.”

She voiced her support for putting the matter “on pause” and joined the rest of council in referring it back to administration.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Whitehorse city council

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