Lot development gets green light

Poor voter turnout doesn’t necessarily mean citizens don’t care about development, said Whitehorse deputy mayor Dave Austin.

Poor voter turnout doesn’t necessarily mean citizens don’t care about development, said Whitehorse deputy mayor Dave Austin.

Yesterday, fewer than a quarter of all eligible voters showed up at city polling stations to vote in the Porter Creek plebiscite and the Arkell subdivision referendum.

“Either people don’t care or there’s a whole bunch of people out there saying, ‘Look we elected these guys to make the decisions, let them make them,’” said Austin.

“I’d rather take the positive spin to it and say that they trust city council to make the right decisions.”

Either way, the majority voted in favour of the greenspace map and Porter Creek’s Lower Bench development.

Of 1,379 voters, 1,139 favoured the Green Space Map while 233 voters did not.

The Porter Creek Bench is designated urban-residential in the Official Community Plan and is zoned future-development in the zoning bylaw.

The city planning services department began work on the public planning process for this development in early 2006.

In November, a planning and design charrette was held.

More than 65 residents, planners, engineers, environmentalists, scientists and politicians participated in this five-day collaborative planning workshop.

Through the charrette, a concept map, vision statement, guiding principles, a greenspace map and a description of the main features of the proposed Whistle Bend neighbourhood were developed.

The greenspace map shows the approximate boundaries for protected greenspace, the significant wildlife areas and the area suitable for development.

The greenspace map also shows the conceptual trail connections and outlines how the greenspace will be managed.

The Arkell subdivision referendum asked voters if they were in favour of amending the Official Community Plan by changing the designation of lands between the Arkell and McIntyre subdivisions from greenbelt to urban-residential, to allow development.

To this, 930 people voted yes and 440 people voted no.

The area in question is a 13-hectare parcel owned by the Yukon government and is located north of the Arkell subdivision and south of the McIntyre subdivision.

It had been proposed for residential development when Arkell was developed in 1989.

The Kwanlin Dun land claim negotiation stymied its development at the time.

During the 2002 Official Community Plan process the area was set aside as part of the larger adjacent greenbelt area that lies north and west of the McIntyre, Logan and Copper Ridge subdivisions.

A city bylaw requires that any Official Community Plan amendment that changes a land designation from greenbelt, environmental protection or park reserve must be put to a binding referendum.

The referendum and plebiscite wasn’t worth the almost $20,000 cost, said Austin.

“It’s time consuming, it’s expensive and it doesn’t yield the results that you really want to see.”

“We need more people involved in the process but not on a project-by-project basis.”

Austin prefers the “normal” process where city planning decisions are left up to city council and the developer, be it the territorial government or a private developer.

“We didn’t choose this system; it was forced on us,” he said.

The green light to development is a good thing, said Rick Karp, president of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce.

“We need to have land available for the city to keep moving forward, to keep our economy going.”

Whitehorse’s last 11 developable lots were sold recently, and that concerns Karp.

It has effectively postponed development until the year 2010 when the Porter Creek Lower Bench comes online, he said.

“The next three years we’re in trouble because the builders won’t have lots to build on, so the tradespeople won’t have jobs to go to, so they’re going to go somewhere else to work and we’re going to get into a very bad situation,” said Karp.

Without new homes being built, the Whitehorse real-estate market will become inflated preventing newcomers from coming here, he added.

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

Just Posted

Higher camping fees, new campground, reconciliation efforts feature in Yukon parks 10-year strategy

Creating a new campground within two hours of Whitehorse, introducing higher camping… Continue reading

UPDATED: Driver in alleged Whitehorse gun-pointing incident arrested

Christopher Dick, 24, charged with obstructing a peace officer, failing to comply with release order

YG and pharmacies preparing for flu vaccine distribution

The Yukon government is preparing for flu season and encouraging people to… Continue reading

Non-resident tests positive for COVID-19

The individual has been hospitalized in Whitehorse

Yukon working with B.C. on COVID-19 “mouth rinse” tests for children

The tests are easier for children than the comparatively uncomfortable nose swab

Hot Hounds bikejor race serves as lone summer competition

Held in Mount Lorne, the race was organized by the Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon

Whitehorse operations building officially open

Staff are taking phased approach to moving in

North of Ordinary Experience Centre shutting down

COVID-19 has caused bookings for the space to become almost non-existent, owner says

Canada Games Centre could get new playground

Council to vote on contract award

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Harescramble brings out motorcycle community

This year’s event included 67 riders

YG seeks members for youth climate change panel

“Yukon youth deserve to have their voices heard”

Yukon NDP hold AGM

This year’s meeting was held virtually

Most Read