McIntyre Creek causes a splash

Council candidates are in agreement: Housing is the big issue for Whitehorse. The city needs more of it. But they don't agree where to put the houses.

Council candidates are in agreement: Housing is the big issue for Whitehorse.

The city needs more of it.

But they don’t agree where to put the houses.

City planners are reviving plans for Porter Creek D near McIntyre Creek.

The plan includes extending a road over the creek from Pine Street to the Alaska Highway.

Thursday, the city ended public consultation on the development.

On December 12, city council will decide whether to move forward with the planning process, or kill the project before it starts.

It’s a contentious issue, and one that has become a hot-button topic in the city byelection.

It will also be the first major decision the new city councillor will be asked to make.

At Wednesday’s all-candidates forum, the contenders were asked for their views on the potential development.

“I’m totally against it,” said Murray Martin, the development’s most boisterous opponent. “Once you ruin it, you can’t bring it back. To build a bridge over it, I think is ridiculous.”

There’s room for compromise, said his opponent, Martin Lehner.

“I don’t think there has to be a winner and a loser,” he said. “I believe that we can develop it responsibly. So, yes, I would be in favour of developing the area.”

He’s not the only one that would support it.

“I’d vote for it just to stir debate,” said Ted Lambert.

The planning process should be allowed to continue, though the creek should be protected, said Kirn Dhillon.

There should be more public consultation, said Patrick Singh.

“I can see arguments on both sides,” he said. “It’s an area that’s already ringed by infrastructure.

“If we don’t develop it, where do we develop?”

Eight candidates would vote the development down, according to a survey by the Yukon Conservation Society. The “no” camp includes Martin, Pat Berrel, Norm Hamilton, Mike Tribes, Cam Kos, Linda Bonnefoy, Kirk Cameron and Duke Connelly.

Only Lambert, Dhillon and Lehner said they would vote yes. The others, Singh and Harry Hrebien, didn’t answer the survey.

If council proceeds with the project, there would still be a long time before any building starts.

First, detailed designs would be drafted followed by a lengthy public consultation process, said Mike Gau, Whitehorse’s manager of planning and development services.

“Right now we’re caught in this middle area trying to decide if there’s going to be a project,” he said. “If there is a project, we can really flesh out all the environmental concerns.”

Contact Josh Kerr at joshk@yukon-news.com