MacBride Museum scales back expansion plans

New drawings, submitted last week, contain enough changes that the MacBride Museum no longer needs Whitehorse city council’s approval to move forward with most of its plans, according to Pat Ross, the city’s planning manager.

Whitehorse’s MacBride Museum is scaling back its expansion.

New drawings, submitted last week, contain enough changes that the museum no longer needs city council’s approval to move forward with most of its plans, according to Pat Ross, the city’s planning manager.

All that’s left for council to decide is if the museum should be exempt from having to pay for its lack of parking spots.

The building is slated to be one metre from the property line and there will no longer be a section that overhangs the sidewalk, Ross said.

It now complies with a city requirement that waterfront buildings have a front yard space.

The new design is also in line with the city’s waterfront design requirements, Ross said, though details of what the expansion will look like now aren’t being made public yet.

The primary concern about the design was the second and third floor, Ross said. While designs for the first floor contained a lot of glass facing Front Street, the second and third floors had a solid wall.

Typically a building would have sections that are pushed back or tapered “so that it’s not this solid wall along the street,” he said. The problem could also be addressed by changing the facade material so that it’s not the same material from one end of the building to the other.

The museum has made changes to the physical design of that wall and has also changed the facade treatment and colour, Ross said.

The city has to keep the specifics of the development confidential until after it has issued a development permit, he said.

On Tuesday the museum’s executive director Patricia Cunning said the designs will be made available at a later date.

A public hearing about the museum is still scheduled for Oct. 11. But instead discussing the museum’s design the hearing will be focused on parking concerns.

According to the city’s rules, a building the size of the new expanded MacBride is required to have 12 parking spots.

The current design has zero parking spots.

The city zoning bylaw says parking can be located off-site within a 300-metre radius or the museum could pay a fee of $18,706 per space to the city’s parking reserve fund.

MacBride is asking council to waive that fee.

The smaller expansion means the museum won’t have to sign an encroachment agreement with the city.

That agreement was supposed to deal with the portion of the building that was going to overhang Front Street, plus a portion of the underground foundation that was technically on the Steele Street right of way.

Since neither of those elements are part of the new design, the agreement isn’t needed anymore, Ross said.

The expansion is being paid for with $6 million from the territorial and federal governments that was announced in August.

The three-storey building will be connected to the current log structure on Front Street.

The original design was slated to add 1,700 additional square metres in museum space.

The new building will have five galleries including a map room.

Museum staff have said about 70 per cent of the museum’s 30,000-piece collection is currently in storage because there is not enough space.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

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