The empty lot at 468 Range Road in Whitehorse on Nov. 27. Developer David Borud is hoping to build a five-storey, 84-unit senior housing complex in its spot. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Public hearing will focus on seniors housing development

Bylaw would alter parking and boundary alignment

Whitehorse residents will have a chance to tell the city what they think about a proposal for a seniors housing development that could see the required number of parking spots at the facility decreased.

Whitehorse city council has approved first reading of a zoning change to lower the number of required parking spaces and realign the property boundary with a portion of the site behind it.

By passing first reading of the bylaw Nov. 25, council prompted a public hearing to be held at its Jan. 13 meeting where the public can directly address council about the plans.

The project would see a five-storey, 84-unit building constructed at 468 Range Road that would also feature a commercial kitchen, courtyard and space for on-site services for seniors living there.

The housing project is aimed at seniors who are no longer able or no longer want to deal with the demands of their own home, but also don’t need continuing care. It would provide assisted living where seniors could continue living independently with some services provided.

Developer David Borud has asked that the parking requirement be reduced from one spot for every two units to one spot for every four units (the same zoning requirement for supportive living facilities downtown), pointing out that many tenants are not likely to be driving and therefore the number of parking spaces needed would not be as high.

It was also noted in a staff report to council that the property is 150 metres from a transit stop and there’s a number of other ways of getting around town that residents may use.

Staff pointed out the Official Community Plan supports compact development oriented to transit and active transportation.

As Coun. Steve Roddick argued Nov. 25, this case essentially boils down to trading what would otherwise be parking space for more units in the building and that’s something he generally supports, though he also said he wants to hear what the public thinks about it.

Coun. Laura Cabott, who attended the meeting by phone, also spoke up before voting in favour, stating she wants the zoning change to move forward so that council can hear what the public thinks about it.

Cabott highlighted concerns there will be demand for parking there, as some tenants will likely continue to own and drive vehicles. She said she also recognizes the need for more housing in the city, particularly for the aging population.

Meanwhile, the boundary realignment would increase the size of the Range Road lot from 3,708 square meters to 4,265 square meters by adding a portion of the Rhine Way lot behind it (also owned by the developers). The additional space would be used for parking, waste receptacles, propane tanks and a green energy generation plan.

Coun. Dan Boyd has declared a conflict on the issue, leaving council chambers whenever there is a discussion or vote on the proposal.

Following the Jan. 13 public hearing, a staff report will come forward Feb. 3 with second and third reading to be voted on Feb. 10.

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

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