It may be shall again

Creating further semantic confusion, the city has backtracked on one of its 2009 Official Community Plan recommendations. At a council meeting earlier this month, the city proposed replacing all 'shalls' in the 2009 document with 'may.'

Creating further semantic confusion, the city has backtracked on one of its 2009 Official Community Plan recommendations.

At a council meeting earlier this month, the city proposed replacing all ‘shalls’ in the 2009 document with ‘may.’

The word exchange was intended to make the document “more flexible,” according to city planners.

But to critics, it was a way of watering down the authority of the document.

Now the city is saying the earlier recommendation was, in fact, “a typo.”

“It wasn’t meant to apply to all of the shalls,” senior planner Mike Ellis told a council meeting on December 17.

“We know there was concern over that.”

The city was only deliberating which of the shalls should be traded for may, said the planning manager, Mike Gau.

“I think it got put in there because we were reviewing all of them – but it was a typo,” said Gau.

About 15 to 30 per cent of the policies in the 2009 plan will get the word replacement, said city planners.

The policies that will be rejigged are those that are “too specific.”

“We don’t want to commit council to build any projects that sound good now, but may not be in the future,” said Ellis.

In January, city planners will announce which policies they’re considering changing.

Moving into the McLean Lake area

The city is suggesting Squatters’ Row and McLean Lake become a residential neighbourhood.

If the area were redesignated urban-residential it could accommodate up to 100 residences in the future, said senior planner Mike Ellis.

Currently, the area is country-residential and ‘natural open space’ on the 2002 Official Community Plan map.

“The long-term vision is, once the quarries are done and the industrial uses are done in that area, then (we could build residences),” said planning manager Mike Gau.

The neighbourhood would come after the construction of the Whistle Bend subdivision, likely 20 years into the future, he said.

It would also mean the city would extend water and sewer services to new and existing homes in the McLean Lake area.

Beefing up city housing stock

That shed you’re renting out to people may soon be legal.

The city is recommending secondary suites throughout Whitehorse be officially allowed in the 2009 community plan.

“It would legalize any incidents of this across the city, of which there are lots,” said senior planner, Mike Ellis.

For a long time the city turned a blind eye to these “garden suites” and “granny flats” even though they were in conflict with city zoning bylaws.

Currently, zoning bylaws only allow them to be used temporarily, not rented out as permanent suites.

About 63 per cent of people who responded to a city survey earlier this year said they’d like to see secondary suites become permanent fixtures on the city landscape.

If the policy is approved by council, the additional suites would help densify neighbourhoods and lessen the strain on housing stock, say city planners.

However, existing suites would still have to pass safety codes, senior planner Mike Gau added.

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com