Greenspace on the chopping block

Whitehorse is pushing ahead with plans to demolish greenspace in Porter Creek and Crestview to make room for more housing. The small developments, called infills, would be slotted beside existing developments.

Whitehorse is pushing ahead with plans to demolish greenspace in Porter Creek and Crestview to make room for more housing.

The small developments, called infills, would be slotted beside existing developments. If all goes smoothly, between 18 to 27 new lots could be up for lottery by late summer or early autumn of this year.

City planners will hold a public meeting on February 2 at Jack Hulland School to showcase proposed infill designs, answer questions and listen to comments.

The meeting will likely pit those who treasure the peace, privacy and higher property values nearby greenspace offers them, against those concerned by the growing affects of the city’s acute housing shortage. Young couples find first homes increasingly out of reach, there’s slim pickings for renters and a city with a labour shortage has trouble recruiting new hires if there’s nowhere to live.

Infills are the cheap and quick solution to Whitehorse’s lot shortage because of their proximity to existing roads and utility pipes. They’re meant to serve as a stopgap until Whitehorse’s next big, new neighbourhood, Whistle Bend, is complete in the autumn of 2012.

The proposed infills sparked protests the moment they were announced last spring.

Riverdale residents deplore how one small development, between Boswell and Firth, may scare away songbirds, lower nearby property values and perhaps even mess up the city’s water reservoir. This project is on hold, at least for the year, until studies of the city wellheads and Riverdale traffic are complete.

Porter Creek residents have also balked at the plan to build beyond 12th Avenue and Centennial Street, objecting that it would require blasting to install sewage and water pipes, and that these explosions, done improperly, could damage homes.

Other in-fills are proposed in Porter Creek along 14th Avenue, near the Guild Hall, as well as along Boxwood Crescent and at the end of Elm Street.

Crestview’s infill would be built near the junction of Rainbow Road and Klukshu Avenue.

While specifics aren’t on offer before the meeting, planners say the density of each infill is meant to match the surrounding neighbourhood.

Council has told planners to suss out where the public stands on these developments, but zoning and subdivision decisions have yet to be made. That means there should be many more meetings to come. Planners hope to wrap-up consultations and begin developing by May.

But, with work on Whistle Bend underway, it may be tough finding enough contractors to do the work on schedule, warned Mike Gau, manager of planning.

Planners still have their eyes on two other developments, which are deemed to be too complicated to pursue immediately. One would be built downtown near Fifth Avenue and Rogers Street. The other is a contentious plan to build in the Porter Creek D area, within McIntyre Creek, which conservationists consider to be a crucial animal corridor.

The meeting will be on February 2 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. inside Jack Hulland school’s gym.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.

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