Workers dig water and sewer lines at the Whistle Bend Phase 4 project on Thursday. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News)

More money needed for Whistle Bend Phase 8 planning, Whitehorse staff say

‘There’s a mix of development planning and recreation planning going on’

Whitehorse’s acting manager of planning and sustainability, Mike Ellis, came before council at the Oct. 16 standing committees meeting to ask for a $100,000 increase to the planning budget for the Whistle Bend Phase 8 and town square planning project.

The current budget for this project is $200,000, which would mean a total of $300,000 if the new funds are approved. The budget increase would be funded by the Yukon government.

“All eligible expenses will be reimbursed by YG through quarterly invoicing,” Ellis said.

The increase is needed, Ellis said, because of changes in the scope of the project, which now includes a parcel of land owned by the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council. TKC will be included in the planning work and have “final decisions on any development designs for their parcel,” but the zoning and subdivision approval remains the choice of the city, he said.

An area referred to as “the fin” because of its shape is also included in the project. The fin was originally going to be the new home of the Yukon Horse and Rider Association (YHRA). That idea was nixed, Ellis said, because the YHRA and the city, “determined that this location was not appropriate due to access concerns related to large trucks and trailers moving through a dense urban neighborhood.”

As such, the fin is now being reconsidered for a variety of uses, he said, including a snow dump or neighborhood expansion. The area is now zoned as greenspace.

Coun. Dan Boyd asked if these additional areas included in the expanded Phase 8 study would mean more available lots sooner.

“That’s a potential outcome,” Ellis said, “but I couldn’t say for sure.

“There’s a mix of development planning and recreation planning going on.”

Boyd also wanted to know if the YHRA had been consulted about using the fin for its facilities before the plan to put it there was first implemented.

Ellis said the group had been, but that there were “other forces at play” which changed the decision. “(The fin) could have been numerous different kinds of recreation spaces,” he said.

Despite that, Ellis said, that the city would still be open to consulting with the YHRA on the fin.

“We’d like to make it clear that we want to open for all options,” he said.

This statement seemed to prompt some confusion among councillors. Mayor Dan Curtis asked Ellis if this meant the fin was still an option for the YHRA or not.

Ellis did not seem to have a solid answer.

“We are open to it … (but) the concerns expressed (about the YHRA use) at the time would certainly need to be considered,” he said.

Contact Lori Fox at lori.fox@yukon-news.com

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