Kent questioned over development of McGowan lands

NDP MLA Kevin Barr grilled the Yukon Party on Monday for failing to consult with Mount Lorne residents on new subdivision plans.

NDP MLA Kevin Barr grilled the Yukon Party on Monday for failing to consult with Mount Lorne residents on new subdivision plans.

During question period, Barr asked Resources Minister Scott Kent why the government was still pushing the project ahead despite the hamlet’s objection to it over the years.

“Mount Lorne residents have long been clear they didn’t want to see a big subdivision in the McGowan lands,” Barr said.

“Why wouldn’t the government consult with the hamlet council and why would they choose to make this announcement before the new hamlet council has a chance to have their first meeting?”

Kent said the hamlet residents have been aware of the government’s intentions to develop the McGowan lands since 2005.

He said Yukoners have been calling for more rural residential and agricultural lots “within the Whitehorse periphery.”

“We certainly recognize the concerns of area residents when it comes to additional development in their neighbourhood,” Kent said.

“Again, we have to balance that with the needs of other Yukoners – Yukoners who are looking for this type of lifestyle for rural residential.”

Barr replied that this was a “new announcement with a new agenda.”

He questioned the government’s timing of the announcement, which was the day of the municipal election.

No one can speak on behalf of the hamlet until the local advisory council is sworn in around mid-November.

Barr also asked Kent why the government hadn’t gone public with its changes to the Area Development Act in 2013, which gives a minister the power to override a local area plan.

He said the changes gave the minister a “trump card” in order to grab the McGowan lands and nullify the community’s local area plan.

The Yukon government is currently exploring the possibility of enlisting the private sector to develop the McGowan lands in Mount Lorne.

It recently began a 30-day consultation period with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, the Carcross/Tagish First Nation and the Ta’an Kwach’an Council.

The government has been trying, without much success, to develop the lands since 1995.

Previous subdivision concepts presented to Mount Lorne residents have been met with resistance.

The hamlet’s local area plan states there cannot be any rural residential subdivision in Mount Lorne. But it does allow room for some development – up to eight lots per year.

Kent said there would be opportunity for public input down the road, should the private development plan move ahead.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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