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New OCP completion anticipated for next year

Council workshops will be underway in January
The City of Whitehorse Emerging Directions document developed from ongoing work on the Official Community Plan which is anticipated to be adopted in 2022. (City of Whitehorse)

It’s anticipated the first draft of a new Official Community Plan (OCP) for the City of Whitehorse will come forward in June 2022 with the final iteration to be before council later in the year.

In the meantime, the city may also be asking the the public where to focus city growth into the future with council to vote on that in 2022.

The OCP, which acts as a guiding document in city planning, was the focus of a council and senior management roundtable discussion on Dec. 2.

Mike Gau, the city’s director of development services, highlighted work done so far to develop a new OCP that would set the vision for the city to 2040, noting consultations, discussions with other governments and the development of Emerging Directions and What We Heard documents throughout the process.

Heading into 2022 with a new council elected in October, Gau outlined workshops planned for the new council in January that will focus on specific issues around the OCP.

The workshops would be followed with intergovernmental meetings with First Nations in February/March, along with a council decision on where to focus city growth that will be integrated into the OCP.

A report would come forward to council detailing options for growth.

Gau said administration would like that decision to be made by council in council chambers following a public input process.

Following that decision, the first draft of the OCP would come forward in June/July with a final version expected later in the year.

Timing is an issue for two members of council, with both Mayor Laura Cabott and Coun. Dan Boyd highlighting their concerns.

Both served as councillors on the previous council.

“People are waiting for this,” Cabott said.

She pointed out the previous council began its term looking at a new OCP. The council ended the term without it being completed and a new council is likely to be one third of the way through its term before it will be finished.

Cabott also cited concerns with data used now being out of date, though as planning and sustainability manager Mélodie Simard explained the city is working with the Yukon Bureau of Statistics for some information to be updated.

Cabott later asked if there was any way to speed the process up.

Gau noted the city is working to get the OCP done as quickly as it can while still ensuring a quality plan is in place, though he added the city will be bringing in a consultant who will take on more work than was initially planned to write the document.

“We want to do this well,” Gau said.

Both Gau and acting city manager Jeff O’Farrell highlighted some of the challenges in getting the work done pointing to COVID-19 taking a toll on the project in 2020 as well as staffing issues in planning that resulted in a number of positions not being filled.

What’s being proposed, Gau said, allows the city to move on it as fast as it can while still allowing for a good plan to be produced.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Stephanie Waddell

About the Author: Stephanie Waddell

I joined Black Press in 2019 as a reporter for the Yukon News, becoming editor in February 2023.
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