Hot springs residents still steamed over condo plans

Yet another public meeting about development plans at the Takhini Hot Springs site descended into heated exchanges this week.

Yet another public meeting about development plans at the Takhini Hot Springs site descended into heated exchanges this week.

It was standing room only at the Hootalinqua Fire Hall for a meeting on Tuesday evening that topped two and a half hours.

Back in November, tempers flared during Brad Cathers’ constituency meeting at the same location and over the same issue.

But this time, the proponent of the development was around to field questions.

Garry Umbrich spent a good portion of the evening trying his best to address the accusations that flew from all corners of the room.

The purpose of the meeting was to give more information about Umbrich’s application for a zoning change at the Takhini Hot Springs site.

Umbrich and the group of lot owners at the site want to see regulation changes so that bare land condominium units are allowed. As it stands, only strata units are allowed.

Umbrich explained that strata units require three-dimensional surveys, which are expensive.

The units need to be built before a bank can provide financing, he said.

But with bare land condominiums, two-dimensional surveys are required, which means financing can be obtained ahead of time, before construction.

But on Tuesday evening, many residents weren’t interested in hearing about condo terminology.

“What does this bring to the community?” one person yelled.

Although bare land condominium units would be more profitable in the future, Umbrich said he would carry on with strata units if he had to.

The consensus among dissenting residents boiled down to concerns about development plans at the site.

Last month, Umbrich held an open house to present resort plans that have been in the works for over 15 years.

Umbrich and his wife, who own four of the 10 lots on the site, want to transform the hot springs from their current incarnation as a concrete recreational pool to a more natural-looking design, like the Liard Hot Springs in British Columbia.

The new design will see the construction of three or four smaller pools with temperatures between 40 and 42 degrees. In comparison, the current pools are between 35 and 39 degrees.

Most of that parcel of land, about one hectare in size, will be enclosed in a fence that won’t be visible from any of the pools.

Six of the 10 lots on the site have been sold to numbered companies.

But some residents are concerned about seeing houses crop up next to their properties in the near future.

One point of contention has been whether Umbrich has the right to cluster a large number of residences on a single lot.

According to the Hot Springs Road local area plan, up to two residences are allowed on a single lot. But the zoning allows for the owners to transfer this allowance to adjoining lots.

This is what Umbrich and other owners have done. One lot allows for the construction of three residences, while one allows for five and another allows for nine.

Jerome McIntyre, director of the land planning branch, said he’d never seen zoning quite like what exists at the Hot Springs site in his career.

“This special provision is terrifying to the public,” one woman said.

“We’re scared of the implications. What will this site look like in the future?”

The zoning at the site also stipulates that a commercial business must take up 51 per cent of a lot before a residence can be built.

One resident at the meeting wondered how big a business would be if it took up more space than nine houses on a single lot.

Umbrich said he was willing to sit down with concerned residents to hear them out, and talk about what those residences could look like.

He’s also mentioned in the past that the site may feature other amenities such as a bakery, a pub or laundromat. It might also include greenhouses and gardens on the site to grow food.

But his ultimate goal, he said at last month’s open house, is to one day build a five-diamond high-end destination spa, one that would “put Yukon on the world map.”

The zoning application still needs to be approved by cabinet. The deadline to submit written comments is April 8.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

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

Just Posted

Connie Peggy Thorn, 52, pleaded guilty Jan. 27 to manslaughter in the 2017 death of Greg Dawson. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Whitehorse woman pleads guilty to manslaughter in death of Greg Dawson

Connie Thorn, 52, was arrested in October 2019 and pleaded guilty in Supreme Court on Jan. 27.

Abigail Jirousek, left, is tailed by Brian Horton while climbing a hill during the Cross Country Yukon January Classic in Whitehorse on Jan. 23. Jirousek finished second in the U16 girls category. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Cross Country Yukon hosts classic race

Cross Country Yukon hosted a classic technique cross-country ski race on Jan.… Continue reading

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver talks to media on March 5, 2020. The Yukon government said Jan. 25 that it is disappointed in a decision by the federal government to send the Kudz Ze Kayah mining project back to the drawing board. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Territorial and federal governments at odds over Kudz Ze Kayah mine project

The federal government, backed by Liard First Nation, sent the proposal back to the screening stage


Wyatt’s World for Jan. 27, 2021

Yukon RCMP said in a press release that they are seeing an increase in tinted front passenger windows and are reminding people that it is illegal and potentially dangerous. (RCMP handout)
RCMP warn against upward trend of tinted windows

Yukon RCMP are seeing more vehicles with tinted front passenger windows, prompting… Continue reading

An arrest warrant has been issued for a 22-year-old man facing two tickets violating the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em>. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Arrest warrant issued for CEMA violation

An arrest warrant has been issued for Ansh Dhawan over two tickets for violating CEMA

The office space at 151 Industrial Road in Marwell. At Whitehorse city council’s Jan. 25 meeting, members voted to sign off on the conditional use approval so Unit 6 at 151 Industrial Rd. can be used for office space. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Marwell move set for land and building services staff

Conditional use, lease approved for office space

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

Most Read