Not all plants are welcome in McLean Lake area

Bob Kuiper doesn’t like the thought of a cement batch plant near his McLean Lake home. Kuiper expects dust, noise, smell and smoke.

Bob Kuiper doesn’t like the thought of a cement batch plant near his McLean Lake home.

Kuiper expects dust, noise, smell and smoke.

And he envisions ruined environmental resources and decreased property values.

The McLean Lake residents have been fighting to keep heavy industry out of their backyard for years.

The battle continued this week, where four residents went toe-to-toe with the plant’s developer, Territorial Contracting, before city council.

“It’s a short-sighted plan that places this intact natural environment in jeopardy and impairs the attractiveness of Whitehorse to residents and visitors alike,” Sue Moodie told council.

It will ruin wildlife habitat and migration corridors, threaten rare plants and aquatic organisms, stifle nature appreciation and scientific research and infringe on recreation like swimming, fishing, hiking, bird watching, snowmobiling and skiing.

Residents cited concerns the development would destroy the Sleeping Giant, a local landform, and taint the area’s water.

A First Nation also expressed its concerns to council.

The Kwanlin Dun First Nation owns two parcels of prime settlement land surrounding the proposed development site, said Jillian McKee, reading a letter from Kwanlin Dun chief Mike Smith to mayor Ernie Bourassa.

The First Nation plans to develop the land in the future. It says the batch plant may destroy its view of Sleeping Giant, have a negative impact on the local ecosystem and, consequentially, lower property values.

The effects on Kwanlin Dun land values in the area were not addressed in past reviews, said McKee, who also proposed a meeting between the city and the First Nation to discuss the issue.

The operation will be as environmentally friendly as possible, said Territorial Contracting owner Ron Newsome.

Development won’t affect water quality because the plant will use groundwater instead of touching McLean Lake; existing trails will be maintained and the development will only quarry rock from behind Sleeping Giant, said Dan Cornett from Access Consulting speaking on behalf of Territorial Contracting.

“The development will not be seen from the highway or other developments,” said Cornett.

Access Consulting has conducted environmental impact studies and the territory has given its go-ahead, said Cornett.

“How objective can your environmental review be if you were hired by the (developer),” asked councillor Dave Stockdale.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but had the residents hired you I suspect the results might have been different,” Stockdale told Cornett.

“I am here to present the facts,” replied Cornett.

“We’re not doing anything unique or different …. To say we’ll have effects, well they’re already there,” he added referring to the eight industrial sites already in the area.

Residents asked council to look at other areas to quarry, or to keep the batch plant where it is, on Ear Lake, until further studies are completed.

The Whitehorse area is rich in rock made for quarrying, but it’s hard to find a place to develop a batch plant, said Stockdale.

“Do you know of any area where the residents would not be presenting argument like these?” he asked the residents.

Areas further up the Copper Haul Road, where the land has already been disturbed, are more suitable for development, answered Moodie.

Researchers from the McLean Lake Residents’ Association scoured government archives and found the area around McLean Lake was protected as a game sanctuary in 1953.

The association attempted to use the information to stall development earlier this year.

Although the territory maintains the protected status was repealed in 1958, residents don’t buy it.

They plan to file a court application calling for a judge’s review of the area’s legal status as a game sanctuary.

It’s time to call

a park a park

City athletes have skied and hiked their way through the Chadburn Lake trail system for 25 years.

Now the area’s designation should be changed to reflect its usage, David Roddick told city council this week.

Roddick proposed the city change the area, currently designated greenspace, to a parks and recreation zone.

That would make the city responsible for upkeep and proper signage on the trails.

For more than 20 years, volunteers have extended the popular forest paths and added simple signage describing 30-kilometres of trails

But in the past few years, the signs have fallen into disrepair, and one fell victim to a cold camper’s need for firewood.

Last year, the Riverdale Community Association received a $3,850 Community Development Fund grant to map the trails using GPS.

If the city agrees to change the zoning, Roddick suggests applying to the fund again to cover the costs of new signs for the area.

Arkell area eyed

for low-cost housing

Jeff Wagner of Millennium Mobile Homes, asked council to consider zoning the triangular area between Arkell and First Nations settlement lands to allow for residential lot development.

Wagner estimates the land could yield about 100 lots — a three-to-five-year supply of affordable housing.

“I don’t want to tear up somebody’s backyard … but consider it and, if you can, fast-track it,” Wagner told council.

Contact Leighann Chalykoff at leighannc@yukon-news.com

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