The city moved a step closer to designating a 56.3-hectare site in Whistle Bend for residential use on Dec. 7 when Whitehorse city council approved second reading of an Official Community Plan amendment.
By moving ahead with the second reading, the proposed change will now go through a ministerial review before it comes back to city council for the third reading. Zoning changes and other such approvals would also be required before any development could happen.
The area is one of three future development sites in the neighbourhood, though the other two already have the designation in place in the OCP for residential development.
A number of submissions that came in during the public hearing on the OCP change highlighted the importance of preserving trails and recreational areas as well as the important environmental features. In a subsequent report to council, city staff noted trails would largely be preserved and new accessible ones put in place along with keeping 15.5 hectares for green space.
Increased traffic was also noted to be a concern for many with city staff pointing to a city-wide transportation study now underway as well as potential future connections to the Alaska Highway that could help address traffic flow from Whistle Bend.
Before voting in favour of second reading, Coun. Steve Roddick made it clear he does not take the concerns brought forward by residents lightly.
Recognizing the need for housing, he said the challenge for him is if development doesn’t happen in Whistle Bend, it could happen somewhere else.
“This is an important development,” he said, after noting he will be looking at how transportation safety and other concerns are addressed as the area continues to grow.
Councillors Jan Stick and Laura Cabott also pointed to the high demand for housing with Stick emphasizing the need to continue planning for Whistle Bend so that lots can get to market.
As Cabott stated of the proposal: “It seems like it is the right option.”
She also reflected on the call for trails and greenspace as well as potential transportation issues, noting the city still has much work to do as planning for the area continues.
Third reading is anticipated to come back to council early in the new year, pending the ministerial review.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org