McIntyre Creek road ruled out

Whitehorse is moving ahead with plans to develop the Porter Creek D subdivision, but it won't be building a road across McIntyre Creek any time soon.

Whitehorse is moving ahead with plans to develop the Porter Creek D subdivision, but it won’t be building a road across McIntyre Creek any time soon.

Originally, planners were looking to connect Pine Street to the Alaska Highway by building a bridge over the creek.

With the new Whistle Bend subdivision potentially bringing 8,000 more people to the area, the city wanted a way to ease traffic congestion.

But now, based on the results of an updated traffic study, planners say the road isn’t needed – at least not until the city’s population reaches 48,000 people, said city planner Kinden Kosick.

With Whistle Bend’s large commercial core, the hope is that a portion of its residents will be able to work where they live.

“It’s designed to be a complete community,” said Kosick. “We want to provide that opportunity for people to live close to where they’re working to try to reduce the number of people that are coming downtown.”

Not building the road is likely to cause traffic delays, but not anything significant, he said.

“We’re talking five extra minutes,” said Kosick.

With the road now off the table, environmental groups, which have long opposed Porter Creek D, have a reason to celebrate.

“The road across McIntyre Creek was one of our big concerns,” said Christina Macdonald, wildlife coordinator for the Yukon Conservation Society.

When she found out last week that the city had dropped its plans for the road, she was floored.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes for a minute,” she said. “When I spread the news around the office we all cheered.

“There’s not a lot of victories in this job so when there are, we do celebrate them.”

The battle over the road may be over, but the conservation society still has a fight on its hands.

It remains opposed to any residential development near McIntyre Creek. It’s a position that has a lot of public support, said Macdonald.

“The city has been trying to move Porter Creek D along for many years, and each time they do, people continue to fight it, so I think that’s certainly an indication of what people want for that area,” she said.

The conservation society wants to see McIntyre Creek preserved and managed for both recreation and wildlife. The city, meanwhile, still plans to push ahead with the new Porter Creek neighbourhood.

In December, council approved a $419,617 contract with design firm HB Lanarc to do the planning and pre-engineering work for the project. That work is likely to begin this fall.

Conservationists are already hard at work building their case for killing Porter Creek D.

“Given that there are twice as many lots available now as there were this time last year, the tank farm is now seriously being considered for development, and with the mining boom slowing, we’re questioning whether we even need Porter Creek D,” said Macdonald.

While the city is starting to see some improvement on the housing front, it wouldn’t take much to stymie that progress, said Kosick.

“Over the last few years we had a housing shortage, and part of that was because … when that population spike hit, there were essentially no plans ready,” he said. “There still is a chance that it might not go through, but we want to have a plan on the shelf anyway.”

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