Development could ruin McIntyre Creek

The city is trying to squeeze drinking water and homes from the same patch of McIntyre Creek land. It’s a plan that would pollute groundwater and destroy habitat, said conservationist Tami Hamilton, as she led a group of people through an evening hike of the creek on Friday.

The city is trying to squeeze drinking water and homes from the same patch of McIntyre Creek land.

It’s a plan that would pollute groundwater and destroy habitat, said conservationist Tami Hamilton, as she led a group of people through an evening hike of the creek on Friday.

“For a city that will start relying on aquifers for water, do we want to start messing with this area?” she said.

The city announced this summer it will no longer rely upon Schwatka Lake for its drinking water supply. Stringent federal and territorial guidelines will require the city to mechanically treat any surface water, an option

Whitehorse wants to avoid for financial reasons, said city planner Mike Ellis.

The city is hoping that by winter it will have secured groundwater sources instead, including some that run through McIntyre Creek.

But in that same area, the city wants to build 400 new housing units.

If the city intends to use the McIntyre Creek aquifer for drinking water, then it needs to make a point of protecting it, said Hamilton. The wetland acts as a filtration system, purifying water that runs through it, before it ends up

in city wells.

“If you start meddling with the watershed, it impacts the (Yukon) River system,” she said.

“It may not seem that this area would be that impacted by development, but each part (of the ecosystem) is connected to the next.”

Hamilton points to the Columbia River as an example of a heavily polluted river system. In many parts of the Columbia, which runs through BC and Washington state, there are no fish and drinking the water is unthinkable, she


Protecting McIntyre Creek for drinking water isn’t the only issue, added Hamilton. Many animals also use the area to breed and forage for food. It’s the longest contiguous corridor of wildlife left in Whitehorse, she said.

Moose, caribou, bears, lynx and birds use the creek as a conduit to cross from Fish Lake over to Swan Lake, said Hamilton.

“It is habitat that has already been impacted by the creation of the (Copper Haul) road. More development would only further affect that corridor,” she said.

In Alaska, where development destroyed most of these corridors, moose are calving in people’s backyards.

“Whitehorse is a small city but we have to start thinking 50 years down the road,” said Hamilton.

Dorothy Bradley, who organized the hike and is director of the Friends of McIntyre Creek, has lived in the area for 40 years. She hopes to see the creek turned into a territorial park.

The city likely realizes the importance of McIntyre Creek, but the health of the creek is drowned out by the interests of developers, said Bradley.

“The city has people banging on their door saying, ‘I have land to develop,’ and the thing is that these people are hard to ignore, they just keep banging louder.”

Contact Vivian Belik at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes


Wyatt’s World for Feb. 26, 2021

Josi Leideritz, the executive director for the Yukon Quest International Association (Canada), poses for a photo in Whitehorse on Oct.1, 2020. The Quest announced plans for its 2022 race to start in Fairbanks on Feb. 5. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
2022 Quest planning gets underway

Race would begin Feb. 5 in Fairbanks

Beadwork and boots being sold by the Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association. A survey from StatsCan reveals the number of Indigenous people who make handmade crafts. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Survey reveals number of Yukoners who speak Indigenous languages

Yukon is behind Nunavut and Northwest Territories when it comes to language retention

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read