Porter Creek and Crestview residents will be getting some new neighbours.
Tuesday night, city council approved plans to add 19 new lots in the two neighbourhoods.
There had been a lot of opposition to the plan, but Cam Koss, a Porter Creek resident, said he was happy to see the city had made some changes in recognition of the communities’ concerns.
“I’m very impressed that council appears to have listened to many of the people,” he said. “They didn’t totally cancel things like we would have preferred, but they definitely gave us the lesser of two evils.”
Coun. Ranj Pillai was the only politician to oppose the development.
“I have a fundamental problem with taking an environmentally protected area and cutting around the area and developing it,” he said. “It’s not something I can support.”
Pillai proposed reducing the number of lots for the development, but the other councillors voted that down.
He was interrupted several times when he tried to suggest alternatives to the infill.
“We’re getting way off track here,” said Coun. Dave Stockdale.
“Everything you’ve said is relevant, but not to this amendment,” said Coun. Florence Roberts. “I hope you’ll bring this up at the committee meeting.”
Undeterred by the response, Pillai vowed to bring his suggestions forward again shortly.
“If you take things personally you’re not going to be effective,” he said.
His suggestions included moving the planned tennis courts on Mount McIntyre, putting a condo development in its place, and using the sale of the land to move the courts to a more appropriate spot.
He also said that the city should start talking with territorial government and the First Nations groups about opening up more land for development.
“You’ve got two First Nations that are very large landholders in the city,” he said. “We need to be in talks to see if they want to develop that.
“It’s in the heart of the city.”
No one is under the illusion that these 19 lots will solve the city’s housing crisis.
But with the growth Whitehorse has seen recently, Pillai said council needs to start taking a leadership role.
“We seem to be looking through one particular lens,” he said. “I think we have to look at absolutely every option right now.”
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