It seems almost every development in Whitehorse meets with some kind of opposition, and a proposed townhouse complex in Hillcrest is no exception.
About 20 people showed up at city council’s Tuesday night meeting to voice opposition to the proposed development.
Kirn Dhillon, whose parents own the property, explained they want to tear down their Steelox buildings – prefabricated housing built by the Royal Canadian Air Force in the 1950s – and replace them with up to eight new townhouses.
“The vision for the project comes from the (Official Community Plan),” said Dhillon.
The 10 metre, high-density, energy-efficient buildings would be partially powered by solar panels on the roof.
Trying to repair the existing buildings just isn’t feasible, said Dhillon, whose parents have owned the rental properties for almost 30 years.
“A lot of these things just can’t be addressed through renovations,” he said.
The cost to heat them in the winter is astronomical, he added.
Increasing the density of Hillcrest would increase the tax base. That could help finance much-needed infrastructure improvements in the neighbourhood, said Dhillon.
But not everyone is so enthused about the project.
“I’m not opposed to townhouses or increased density, but doubling the density is too much and three storeys is too tall,” said Jim Gilpin, whose property backs on to the proposed development.
Others worry that this development would set a precedent for the neighbourhood, which is mostly made up of single-storey homes.
“Although it’s in my backyard, it’s not just about my backyard, said Laura Gilpin.
City council candidate Cam Kos was more concerned about the loss of yet another rental property in the city. He repeated his calls for a ban on condo developments that come at the expense of rental units.
The Dhillons own other rental properties in town, but the ones they own in Hillcrest are simply too far gone to remain viable, said Dhillon.
“This isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme for my parents,” he said.
After his presentation, Dhillon spent more than an hour talking to residents outside the chamber, trying to allay their concerns.
He insisted that the proposal he presented was the maximum and there was a good chance that the buildings could end up being smaller as the project goes through more detailed design.
“We’ve been very open about this,” he said.
Emotions ran high, and no one seemed convinced by Dhillon’s explanation.
While the people that showed up Tuesday night were all opposed to the development, Dhillon said he has received letters in support of the project.
A public hearing on the development is scheduled for next week.
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