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Growing neighbourhood brings on growing concerns

Whistle Bend transportation, electrical demand issues highlighted
The intersection of Casca Boulevard and Keno Way in Whistle Bend on Jan. 12, 2023. A draft traffic impact assessement suggests traffic signals will be needed at the intersection when Whistle Bend is fully developed. Traffic in Whistle Bend was a concern that came up during a public hearing on the rezoning of Phases 10 and 11 for the neighbourhood. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)

Continued growth in Whistle Bend could change how people get in and out of the neighbourhood.

Those changes largely depend on Whitehorse’s upcoming Transportation Master Plan.

A public hearing report was presented to Whitehorse city council on Jan. 9. It highlighted that the upcoming transportation plan could provide recommendations for Whistle Bend.

A public hearing was held in October on the rezoning of Phases 10 and 11 of the neighbourhood, which would allow for development. As city planner Mathieu Marois told council, the city received just one submission, highlighting concerns about traffic.

Transportation concerns outlined

The two sites for Phases 10 and 11 are at the west end of the neighbourhood. It would see a combined 210 lots for single family or duplex homes and another 14 multi-family lots as well as a greenbelt, park and public service lot.

In the submission, it was argued there’s already transportation issues in the area.

“The respondent questioned how nine Whistle Bend phases could have already been approved without addressing the transportation issues created by the development,” Marois said.

The submission also said the neighbourhood was planned under the false assumption that public and active transportation would be more popular among residents, he continued.

Marois went on to highlight the Whistle Bend Master Plan in 2006 and the Whistle Bend Transportation Network Impact Study in 2009.

The study included recommendations for the neighbourhood as it passed through four phases of development.

“Many improvements recommended in the short- and medium-term have since been implemented such as the Whistle Bend connector between Mountain View Drive and Casca Boulevard, signal optimizations, signal installations, and transit service enhancements to Whistle Bend,” Marois said.

“Longer-term recommendations that have not been implemented include an Alaska Highway connector, college access road extension, and four-lane widening of the Whistle Bend connector.”

More transit enhancements are planned for 2023, he said.

Coun. Ted Laking noted concerns about Whistle Bend’s electrical infrastructure.

“We need to ensure that the the power grid, the substations can withstand, particularly in high demand (periods) — say when it’s -40 or -50,” Laking said, noting the high demand newer homes, many with electricity as the primary or only heat source, puts on the system.

The lengthy Dec. 19 outage that impacted Whistle Bend and some other neighbourhoods in Whitehorse had the city consider activating its emergency operations and making the Canada Games Centre available as a warming centre. Ultimately, officials opted against it as it was expected to be a shorter outage.

“But of course as everybody knows, it turns out to be inaccessible for four hours in some areas,” city manager Jeff O’Farrell noted in responding to Laking’s comments.

O’Farrell went on to highlight plans for a post-incident review that will be done. In addition to the city, Yukon Emergency Measures, ATCO Electric Yukon, and Yukon Energy will be involved, looking at the events of Dec. 19, the response, and what should be done in the future.

Mayor Laura Cabott has also requested a meeting with Energy, Mines and Resources Minister John Streicker, and while that still has to be booked, Streicker has indicated he’s willing to meet.

Cabott said she wants that meeting to result in a debriefing for city staff as well as having the concerns of council addressed.

“We want to know that there is enough power now and an adequate supply of power in the future,” she said.

While the city may play a role as a stakeholder when it comes to future power supply, it is ultimately up to the Yukon government and Yukon Energy to ensure there is enough to supply the territory, she said.

In the meantime, council will consider the rezoning to allow for the rezoning of Phases 10 and 11, as well as Phases 12 and 13, which Marois also delivered a public hearing report on.

Onto Phases 12 and 13

Phase 12 includes 2.2 hectares off Casca Boulevard to the east near Keno Way and Phase 13 comprises 14 ha, west of Casca Boulevard and east of the Whistle Bend Place continuing care facility.

Detailed engineering will be done to determine the more precise designations for Phases 12 and 13, though it’s estimated there could be about 350 housing units for an anticipated 850 people.

The city received just one written submission on that rezoning, requesting that the popular walking path behind Whistle Bend Place remain and a green belt introduced between the facility and future homes.

Marois confirmed plans for an eight-metre wide greenbelt buffer between the facility and future development, which will allow for a trail.

Council will vote on whether to move forward with second and third reading of the bylaws for both rezonings at its Jan. 16 meeting.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Stephanie Waddell

About the Author: Stephanie Waddell

I joined Black Press in 2019 as a reporter for the Yukon News, becoming editor in February 2023.
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