Whitehorse city council passed first reading on the proposed Official Community Plan at its Aug. 8 meeting. A public hearing will be held Sept. 12. (Screen shot/City of Whitehorse)

Whitehorse city council passed first reading on the proposed Official Community Plan at its Aug. 8 meeting. A public hearing will be held Sept. 12. (Screen shot/City of Whitehorse)

Here’s when you can have your say on Whitehorse’s 20-year plan

Public hearing set for Sept. 12

Sept. 12 has been set as the date for the public to get their comments in on the next proposed Official Community Plan for the City of Whitehorse.

Whitehorse city council passed first reading of the document, which sets out a vision for the city to 2040, at its Aug. 8 meeting.

The vote in favour of first reading pushes the proposed plan to the public hearing phase ahead of second reading.

Both councillors Kirk Cameron and Mellisa Murray emphasized council’s interest in hearing what people have to say about it.

“I’m particularly interested in views that people have as it relates to the population increases and what that impact might look like for our community,” Cameron said. “But I’m all ears. I really do want to hear from citizens and I would hope that folks are willing to step up and and bring their thoughts and observations to us.”

Some council members have already expressed concerns with the population projections outlined in the document. A high growth scenario would put the city’s population at about 45,000 in 2040, while medium growth projects it at around 40,000 and a low growth scenario projects it at 35,000 by 2040.

Mayor Laura Cabott and Coun. Ted Laking suggested at an earlier meeting the population could end up being much larger than the high growth scenario, given the 16.3 per cent increase in the Whitehorse population over the last five years. As of 2021, the city’s population was just over 30,000.

City staff have noted work on the projections was done with the Yukon Bureau of Statistics and pointed out population rates are likely to fluctuate over the nearly 20 years of the plan. There are also provisions that would allow the city to take another look at population if there are significant changes.

The OCP also projects demand for another 6,150 housing units over the next 20 years, but has potential for up to 14,000 units.

Murray acknowledged that the 100-page document can be a lot to take in, but stressed the importance for the city’s future and noted her hope many would read it and provide their thoughts about it.

“There are a lot of avenues that the community can give input to the city,” she said.

Those wanting to directly address council on the plan can show up to its Sept. 12 meeting for the public hearing. Alternatively, residents can also make arrangements to call into the meeting or have their presentation read into the record by contacting legislative services at legsvcs@whitehorse.ca by 12 p.m. on Sept. 12.

Written submissions received before the noon deadline will also be considered as part of the public hearing. They can be emailed to publicinput@whitehorse.ca

Residents can visit https://www.engagewhitehorse.ca/ocp to view the proposed OCP. The plan addresses everything from where future development is envisioned to building height limits and more.

It points to continued development for the Whistle Bend area along with development by First Nations of their settlement land, private development of the former tank farm site near Valleyview, and looking at potential future areas for growth, with one south of Copper Ridge and another near Long Lake. Height limits for mixed use buildings in the downtown core would be set at 25 metres, though up to 30 metres — about 10 stories — would be considered for buildings north of Main Street and east of Fourth Avenue. This compares to a current height limit of 25 metres through much of the downtown, or 20 metres on Main Street.

Zoning and other bylaw changes would be required before many of proposals in the plan came into effect. A large-scale review of the zoning bylaw typically follows the adoption of a new OCP so it reflects the updated vision for the community.

Following the public hearing, a report on the input would come forward to council Oct. 3 with second reading to follow on Oct. 11.

If that is passed, a 45-day ministerial review would be required under the territory’s Municipal Act.

Provided the new plan makes its way through the review, third reading and adoption of the plan would then come forward for a vote Dec. 12.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com