Plans for a quarry near Valleyview are off.
Just a few hours before a public hearing about the proposed quarry along the Alaska Highway was set to happen at the April 23 Whitehorse council meeting, it was announced the application had been withdrawn.
The Ta’an Kwäch’än Council and its development arm — the Da Daghay Development Corporation (DDDC) — had applied for a change to the city’s Official Community Plan (OCP) and a decrease in the buffer requirements for how far the quarry can be from residential areas. The public hearing is part of the process to make an OCP change.
Officials are not answering questions about the decision to withdraw the application.
“Sorry, there will be no comment at this time,” the development corporation’s CEO Ben Asquith said in an email to the News.
The proposal had been an issue of contention for many nearby residents who did not want a quarry in a residential area. Da Daghay Development Corp. officials explained they wanted to quarry the site to bring it down to a level that would allow for eventual development.
Council passed first reading of the bylaw in March with the condition that a public meeting on the plans be hosted ahead of the public hearing. That meeting happened earlier this month.
By late afternoon April 23, notices from the city were making the rounds on social media that the application had been withdrawn and, thus, the public hearing cancelled.
Signs were also posted to the doors of City Hall about the change and Mayor Dan Curtis started off the council meeting with the announcement.
Just before 2 p.m., he said, the city received confirmation the application was withdrawn.
Mike Gau, the city’s director of development services, said officials with the development corporation and First Nation did not provide a reason for withdrawing the application when they called.
This leaves the 12.2-hectare site designated as urban residential. It is zoned as Future Planning, which means if the First Nation chose to pursue residential development it wouldn’t need an OCP change. That would, however, have to go through council for zoning approval.
As Gau explained, the Future Planning designation is a place holder for land until more detailed plans can come forward for approval. It will be up to the First Nation to decide whether it wants to come back to the city with another OCP amendment in the future or pursue residential zoning.
“We have no indication of what that might be,” Gau said.
As a self-governing First Nation, the Ta’an could also eventually decide on its own the zoning for the land, but it would first have to adopt its own overall zoning bylaw. Under its self-government agreement, the city also has to sign off on the overall zoning bylaw for the First Nation.
What remains unclear, Gau said, is whether the Ta’an need an OCP or equivalent document that guides the zoning, as it does for the city.
“It’s uncharted waters, frankly,” he said.
Meanwhile, Valleyview Community Association president Sylvie Binette said residents of the area were pleased to learn the OCP amendment has been withdrawn.
The organization had been vocal in its opposition to the quarry, sending the city a 15-page document on the matter. Sections of the city’s OCP, the First Nation’s land claim agreement and other documents were cited in arguing against the proposal.
Binette said that while she does not know why the proposal has been withdrawn, it may be that officials realized a quarry would not be compatible with the area.
“It’s not a quarry that builds community,” she said.
Valleview residents are not opposed to development, but want to make sure it fits with the residential neighbourhood, she said.
“We look forward to seeing what the Da Daghay Development Corporation will come up with.”
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org