Whitehorse city council voted Sept. 25 to move the bylaw which would approve the much-debated proposed infill lots to a second reading, triggering a public hearing which is the next step in the process to getting the lots approved.
The proposed lots, many of which would be zoned country residential, have come under fire from the public, especially over concerns over maintaining green space and whether existing neighbourhoods can support the additional strain on water tables and septic systems.
Seven of the 10 areas proposed for development would require rezoning. Of those seven, three areas are currently zoned as greenbelts, one as environmental protection and two as parks and recreation.
Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu said she took a walk through the proposed development areas in Mary Lake.
“I was wondering what values were attributed to these lots, that they were (initially) zoned parks?” she said.
Mike Gau, director of development services, said the lots in question were zoned that way primarily because they had “wet features” which eliminated them from development. But he said that changed as the area and infrastructure evolved.
“They over-protected in some areas where there is a nice dry piece of land that could have been a lot… You have to remember these country residential developments are huge.”
“I saw trails criss-crossing through the proposed lots,” Curteanu said. “Have (staff) actively gone there and mapped out these areas or was this just a desktop exercise?”
Gau said the “official trails plan had been respected.” But he said unofficial trails, “a spider web of minor trails used by people living in the area, were not given protection or consideration in the development.
“In this instance, those trails you noticed were not recognized in our trail mapping,” he said. “We certainly do avoid recognized trails.”
Coun. Betty Irwin said Mary Lake was developed in the 1970s, and that many of these informal trails have been created since people moved in. She lived there for 20 years, she said.
“We can’t protect all the informal trails that have started to be developed. We kind of have to look at that as well, I think,” she said.
“So, it doesn’t matter what the locals use, it has to be recognized on the trail plan?” Curteanu said. “I guess we will hear from residents (about this) then.”
The public hearing for these proposed lots is scheduled for Oct. 23. The final vote is scheduled for Nov. 14.
Shortly after the first reading for the infill bylaw passed, council also approved the first reading of a bylaw which would allow for the rezoning of a parcel of land in Whistle Bend. If the bylaw is approved, it would allow Phase 5 of the project to proceed, with new lots projected to be available in about three years, Gau said.
Coun. Rob Fendrick said would “definitely be voting in favour of this,” and he hoped the public would consider how much work goes into these developments.
“I would encourage the public to understand there’s a lot of work that goes into these developments and they don’t happen by magic,” he said
A public hearing for the Whistle Bend development will also take place Oct. 23.
Contact Lori Fox at email@example.com