The property owners of 604 Black St., pictured in Whitehorse on May 5, are seeking a rezoning ammendment. A public hearing on the proposed rezoning will be held June 15 after Whitehorse city council members voted in favour of the passing first reading on the rezoning at its May 11. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Public hearing on Black Street rezoning set for June 15

Change would allow for a new downtown suite

Whitehorse residents will soon have their say on the proposed rezoning of a Black Street property.

A public hearing on the proposed rezoning of 604 Black St. will be held June 15 after Whitehorse city council members voted in favour of the passing offirst reading at its May 11 meeting with councillors Laura Cabott and Steve Roddick stating they’re looking forward to hearing what residents of the area think about the proposal.

The passing of first reading moves the rezoning into a public hearing process, where residents can let council members know their thoughts on the proposal.

The zoning change would reduce the side and rear yard setbacks with the side yard setback on the southeast side of the lot down to 1.2 metres from the current 1.5 metres and the rear yard setback decreased to two metres from the current three metres.

By changing the setbacks, the property owner could build the suite they are planning over the garage on the lot.

“The existing garage currently meets the accessory structure setback requirements, 0.6 metres for both the side and rear yards,” city planner Hannah McDonald stated in her report to council.

“However, once a dwelling is added as a second storey the garage transitions from an accessory structure to a principal use structure. This means that the new dwelling construction would have to respect the principal use setbacks of 1.5 metres (side yard) and three metres (rear yard).”

While the owner could move the garage to meet the current zoning requirements, they have told city officials it is cost prohibitive and they likely won’t pursue the project if they have to move it.

Cabott said she’d like to know more details on the cost of moving the structure and believes it will be important in council’s final decision.

“I do think we need that information,” she said.

Meanwhile, Coun. Dan Boyd wondered how water and sewer utilities will be tied into the suite with Pat Ross, the city’s manager of land and building services, stating the services would be connected from the main residence on the site.

Boyd then expressed concern around the setbacks being relaxed if it was later learned the garage has to be demolished and a new structure built in order for water and sewer lines to be tied in. That could be seen as a round-about way of getting setbacks relaxed for a new building, he commented.

Despite those concerns, council voted in favour of passing first reading to move it to the public hearing.

Due to distancing measures, residents cannot be in the gallery of council chambers and speak directly at a public hearing. Instead those wanting to make a delegation at a public hearing can submit their presentation in writing to publicinput@whitehorse.ca by June 15.

The submissions will be posted to the city’s website with a summary report coming forward at council’s June 23 meeting, followed by a vote on second and third reading at its June 29 session.

If the rezoning and plans for the property go ahead, the new unit would be the fourth — and the maximum permitted under the zoning bylaw — on the property given that the home on the site has three units inside.

The city may also consider looking at making similar provisions for other property owners if this proves successful.

As was highlighted in a previous report to city council, the zoning bylaw was updated in 2011 to allow for garden suits, such as the one proposed, in order to increase the amount of affordable and rental housing available.

Since then, there’s been a number of property owners who have looked into converting garages into suites and come across similar issues around setbacks.

“These property owners built their accessory structures close to lot lines because the zoning bylaw allowed it, but this is now preventing them from adapting these structures into garden suites,” McDonald said.

“If the rezoning at hand is approved, council could also direct administration to examine broader changes that would allow more property owners to convert accessory structures into garden suites.”

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

RezoningWhitehorse city council

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