Ensuring the impartiality of hydrogeological testing in McLean Lake is, in itself, a test for Whitehorse council.
Ron Newsome, whose Territorial Contracting Ltd. wants to place a concrete batch plant in the area, has volunteered to pay for the tests, which are required under the Official Community Plan.
That offer concerns councillor Doug Graham.
“It may be seen as the proponent making his own parameters,” he said. “I would suggest the city do it, that way there will be no undue influence.”
Of course, that would make the city responsible for the cost of the tests.
And that didn’t sit well with some other city politicians.
“If someone wants to develop the land, surely he should shoulder some of the costs, if not all of it,” said councillor Dave Stockdale.
“We should split the cost three ways — that way the judge can pay a third,” Stockdale added, referring to Yukon Supreme Court Judge Ron Veale, who recently quashed Newsome’s first rezoning application, ruling the city broke its laws in approving the batch plant and quarry plan without having done the required hydrology tests.
Earlier in the meeting, Stockdale suggested Veale should also pick the hydrogeologist.
“If we do it it’ll be seen as biased,” said Stockdale.
Newsome is trying to recover from the court ruling, which delayed his business’ expansion plans.
So now he’s put his quarry plans on hold, and has asked the city to rezone a 1.6-hectare patch of land near McLean Lake for a batch plant only.
That has prompted the McLean Lake Residents’ Association to threaten the city with another lawsuit.
The new bylaw “is contrary to a Supreme Court ruling and contrary to the municipal act,” said residents’ association member Skeeter Miller-Wright during Monday’s council meeting.
“This leaves council open to further action before the courts and possible action by the minister of Community Services.”
“Any new (Industrial Quarry) zoning was disallowed in the McLean Lake area pending a completion of detailed hydrological and hydrogeological testing,” said Miller-Wright.
Interim use was also ruled upon in the court decision, and the batch plant’s 50-year timeline is not interim, he said.
“The decision cited a section of the (Official Community Plan) that said the water testing had to be done prior to gravel extraction,” said Paul Inglis representing Territorial Contracting.
“We’re applying for a concrete batch plant, not a gravel extraction.”
Territorial Contracting will be moving forward with the hydrogeological assessment so that it can pursue the quarry at a later date, he said.
“But the current situation the company finds itself in is untenable and they need to move the batch plant.”
“I assume our lawyers have looked into this,” said councillor Jan Stick.
City administration could not provide an answer. Officials promised to look into it.
Council voted the bylaw through its first reading with Stockdale as the only councillor to oppose it.
A public hearing on the rezoning bylaw will be held on October 22.