A portion of a downtown lane will not close for up to a one-year period as it had initially been proposed.
A report presented by Whitehorse city staff to council at its June 10 meeting states NGC Builders withdrew the application after working with the territory’s Occupational Health and Safety Branch to address concerns brought forward by neighbours about the plans.
NGC is building a six-story condo at Third Avenue and Hawkins Street and had applied for the lane to be closed behind the property to allow room for a crane and construction laydown area as part of the work. The closure would have been in place up to May 2020.
As NGC president Doug Gilday said at the June 10 council meeting, the project itself fits with the city’s vision for higher density residential development in the downtown.
Long-time Whitehorse resident Peter Long is part of the group that’s been planning the building. He told council the idea came about by a group of friends looking for a similar type of housing downtown.
The condo will be among the “greenest” buildings constructed in the city, he said. That also means it is a more complicated build. There’s heat pumps that will be installed and other measures that will ultimately give it less of an ecological footprint, but make the building of it more difficult.
Over the years, increased construction requirements have made building more complex and it is becoming increasingly difficult to build without using additional space in laneways, Gilday said.
“We’re building to the regulations and needs of the community,” he said.
City staff had determined the proposed one-year lane closure would not impact emergency response services or the city’s residential waste collection. However, concerns about the impact to commercial waste pickup came forward from Sanchez Cantina with another neighbour bringing forward safety issues around vehicles being forced to back onto Second Avenue rather than the lane.
Council opted to postpone a decision in light of the concerns, with city staff asking NGC to look at ways to address the issues.
“The builder took those issues into consideration and worked with the Yukon government’s Occupational Health and Safety Branch, which has now authorized the builder to proceed without requiring a full lane closure,” the administrative report read. “A driving width of three meters will remain open, sufficiently wide to address the access and safety concerns that were raised.”
After the solution was found, NGC withdrew its application.
Gilday acknowledged there may be times throughout the construction project when a portion of the laneway will need to be closed for a short period, but the city engineer has the authority to sign off on short-term lane closures of seven days or less without requiring approval of council.
City engineer Taylor Eshpeter said when those applications come up he will be asking NGC to provide a reason for the short-term closure and will work to address concerns of nearby property owners, should any arise.
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