Planning is underway for the first major residential development on Yukon First Nation settlement land.
In a May 17 statement the Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) and Yukon government announced work to create a master plan that could ultimately see development in the Range Point neighbourhood north of the Northland Mobile Home Park.
“Through this potential development, Kwanlin Dün First Nation is taking another step forward in activating the rights in our Final and Self-Government agreements, and in our recently enacted Lands Act,” KDFN Chief Doris Bill said.
“Kwanlin Dün citizens have identified this parcel of settlement land as a site for future development. We are moving forward into the next phase of planning with our partner, the Government of Yukon, to ensure that the development is right for citizens and residents in the area. We look forward to engaging in the planning process and listening to what people have to say.”
The master plan would focus on two parcels of land — a lot next to Northland owned by the Yukon government and the KDFN’s settlement land parcel C-15B with the plan to identify roads, locations, housing types, water and sewer infrastructure, parks and common areas, trails and sites that could be used for commercial and other non-residential uses.
The First Nation has owned C-15B since 2005 when it signed its Final and Self-Government agreements. It has since been working to create policies and legislation needed to move forward with land development.
In 2019, it completed its community lands plan, confirming the direction from citizens to explore potentially developing C-15B through residential land leases.
“It was one of the areas they identified for revenue generation,” Bill said in a May 20 interview.
After the years of working on policy and plans, as well as extensive efforts to create its own land registry, get a management system in place and ensure that system operates well, Bill acknowledged: “It’s a bit scary, a bit exciting at the same time” to reach the point of planning for the first major residential development.
Knowing the territory had a site next to KDFN’s parcel at a time when housing is needed, Bill noted it “made sense” for the First Nation and territory to work together. She said for the entire community to get where it needs to go it’s important to work together and stressed that the First Nation wants to be a good neighbour.
Residents of the area and KDFN citizens are being asked to provide any ideas, priorities and concerns until May 30 with a survey available on the Kwanlin Dün website.
Bill said she’s already heard a number of ideas come forward from residents that could incorporate First Nations art and culture into the neighbourhood.
While the precise number of lots and what type of housing may be in place won’t be determined until the planning is done, it’s estimated the Kwanlin Dün site could accommodate between 300 and 400 lots with between 30 to 40 for the Yukon Government site, according to KDFN lands director Greg Thompson.
He stressed that precise numbers and housing types will depend on the planning process.
Kwanlin Dün lots would fall under a 125-year lease arrangement and it’s anticipated there would be preference given to KDFN citizens and beneficiaries to benefit from the land first.
“Hearing what is important to their citizens and residents in the area will help ensure any future development meets their needs,” territorial Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn said. “We recognize the much-needed housing opportunities such a project will provide and look forward to collaboratively creating this master plan.”
From the feedback, three concepts are set to be developed for the fall with further input to then be sought on those.
A final concept would then be worked on that would be presented to the First Nation, Yukon Government and City of Whitehorse for direction.
“On behalf of city council, I am excited to see the Government of Yukon and the Kwanlin Dün First Nation partner to develop two parcels of land in the Range Point neighborhood,” Mayor Dan Curtis said. “When city administration worked on the Range Road North Neighborhood Plan in 2013-14, one priority was to connect this area to the rest of city, and give it its own neighborhood identity. I believe this represents a wonderful opportunity for Kwanlin Dün First Nation to achieve both, and to turn these parcels into a beautiful neighbourhood we can all be proud of.”
A final decision on whether to move forward with a joint land development will be made by the KDFN and Yukon government.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org