Despite a new pitch from the territorial government, residents of Mount Lorne are still firmly against developing the McGowan lands into a country residential subdivision.
That’s according to 35 comments submitted by residents to the government following a public consultation held in November.
The comments were posted on the hamlet’s website at the beginning of March.
“The proposed McGowan subdivision is a disaster for both residents and wildlife, their corridors and their habitat, within the Cowley, Aspen and Kookatsoon Lakes watersheds and surrounding areas,” wrote one resident who has lived in the area for 43 years.
“My impression, as a long-time Yukoner, is that individuals and families that would enjoy a rural lifestyle want to have the space and silence to enjoy what that offers and not to be crammed into yet another rural residential subdivision,” wrote another. Since 2005, the territorial government has made efforts to develop the McGowan lands, an area south of Cowley Creek, in the northwest portion of Mount Lorne.
In 2010, it presented the hamlet with a technical feasibility study that suggested building between 70 and 140 lots on the land.
But many residents were concerned the project went against the hamlet’s local area plan, which states there cannot be any rural residential subdivision in Mount Lorne.
So they asked the government to review its study, and almost five years later it has come back with a new proposal.
It includes the options of a ‘loop’ concept or a ‘pod’ concept.
The loop concept would yield between 90 and 95 country residential lots at 1.5 to 2.5 hectares in size, and 12 to 14 agriculture lots. The loop road layout, safer than having multiple cul-de-sacs, would be the less expensive option to build.
The pod concept would have a bigger footprint to accommodate larger agriculture lots, while yielding between 80 to 85 country residential lots at one to two hectares each. The cul-de-sacs would provide more open spaces between the pods but the concept would be more costly to build and maintain.
Al Foster, deputy chair of the Mount Lorne advisory council, said the new proposal still isn’t what the community wants.
“Our local area plan is out of date and we’ve been asking for a review, which was supposed to happen every five years,” he said.
“That hasn’t happened yet. As far as meeting the principles of the local area plan, (the proposal) is way out in left field.”
In 2012, a government official said a review of the plan wasn’t practical at the time. That’s because the Carcross/Tagish First Nation had asked for a regional land use plan to be in place before local plans were reviewed.
Created in 1995, the local area plan set a minimum lot size of six hectares in Mount Lorne, while the government wants to reduce that to one hectare for the McGowan subdivision.
Judging from the comments on the hamlet’s website, residents are concerned about the impact that would have on the community.
“That could potentially mean having a dog kennel on every one hectare lot,” Foster said, adding there’s already a high concentration of dog kennels in the hamlet.
The main migration route for the southern lakes caribou herd would be affected, too.
Other concerns include the average pricing for a McGowan lot – about $120,000, which would put it out of reach for most young people, he added.
But residents understand there’s a need for new people in Mount Lorne, where the population is about 410, Foster said.
The local area plan included the development of eight new lots per year, to assure a steady but not overwhelming population growth.
The government has never developed those lots, Foster said.
And now, he said he doesn’t know what the future holds.
A court case has interrupted the process for the time being.
A Yukon miner with active claims in Mount Lorne recently sued the territorial government because it wouldn’t give him permission to mine his claims.
Foster said he hasn’t heard back from the land planning department about what its next step would be, but it’s his understanding the government would have to wait for a court decision first, he said.
Contact Myles Dolphin at email@example.com