Every single infill site proposed by Whitehorse has been opposed by residents.
“But we also had support for every site,” said Mike Gau, planning and development manager.
The city has identified five areas – one in Crestview and four in Porter Creek – where lots can be bought to squeeze in a few more houses.
Combined, the sites could accommodate 16-20 single-family homes.
Saving greenspace was the main concern raised by residents living near all five sites.
Substandard infrastructure and drainage and erosion worries around the proposed sites were other potential problems flagged by residents.
And developing an infill site beside the Guild Hall would cost the neighbourhood a playground. This prompted city’s planning department to table a bargain.
If the infills are supported, and go through, the revenue generated will flow back into the community, said Gau.
The playground that sparked the idea needs to be replaced anyway, he said. And while city council would have to endorse any proposals, the department has already scouted out a new location to put the “tot lot.”
Versluce Meadows in Porter Creek may also see some trail and park development. But they are dependent on the infills moving forward, said Gau.
But there’s little doubt they will be approved.
“We did not ask the question: are you in favour or are you against? It’s not a voting procedure,” said Gau about the public consultation held in Porter Creek on February 2. “We’re at the stage of implementation. There’s lots of public process left and council does not have to go with a particular (site) but we have our direction from the Official Community Plan, and council, to go forward and start implementing that official plan.”
Gau understands people’s concerns, but the city is also trying to meet the growing housing demand, he said.
“We’re actually in a catch-up mode,” he said mentioning that predictions say the town’s population will grow by 500 to 800 people every year.
The city needs Whistle Bend, all these infill sites and Porter Creek D, said Gau, and that doesn’t even include expected demands from developing mines.
After all these houses get built and filled, city officials will then turn their sights south, to the McLean Lake area and across the river to the area around Long Lake.
“These infill locations and Porter Creek D, the development of these locations, delays the need to go to these areas, which are much less disturbed and impacted,” said Gau. “It would be a very expensive development too and much greater environmental impact than developing in areas that have infrastructure and are disturbed from recreational use or infrastructure already.”
The city lots are sold through a lottery and are not available to land-development companies. However, contractors can apply as individuals.
As well, the city places no deadlines for lot buyers to build on the site. But, because of demand, houses are being built almost immediately, said Gau.
The next public meeting about the infills will be at Porter Creek Secondary School tomorrow, February 22, from 7 until 9 p.m.
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at firstname.lastname@example.org