Residents react to four plex

A new four-plex proposed for 604 Jarvis Street has a number of downtown residents worried about the future of their neighbourhood.

A new four-plex proposed for 604 Jarvis Street has a number of downtown residents worried about the future of their neighbourhood.

The multiple housing development would block light and interfere with privacy, downtown residents told city council on Monday night.

It’s also not in keeping with the single-family flavour of the neighbourhood and could set a bad precedent.

The proposed four-plex meets all zoning development requirements, said lot owners Kevin Janes and Joelle Hatton at council.

“The building is up to code,” said Janes.

“So we could build the exact same duplex or single-family structure without making any changes to the plans.”

The four-plex is necessary because of a severe lack of affordable rental dwellings downtown, said Hatton.

“It’s too costly to build a single-family home downtown right now,” she said.

“People simply can not afford to live and work in Whitehorse and people will start leaving soon or won’t even come in the first place.”

The city needs to redevelop its orphaned lots, said Hutton who described orphaned lots as those sitting empty and not being used for their original purpose.

Downtown has plenty of these orphaned lots and many of them are owned by the Hatton family, said downtown resident Pamela Holmes.

“The Hatton family owns seven lots in that block alone and at least eight others that we know of,” she said.

“We would suggest, as part of the conditions, that the nearby properties that are held by members of the Hatton family — namely 608 to 612 Jarvis Street — should be required to be cleaned prior to beginning any development of this property.”

This received applause from a few members of the audience.

“Neighbours have been overly tolerant of this situation and the Hatton Family could garner some goodwill by taking care of this situation,” she said.

“In fact, the city may want to inspect the buildings currently rented out on these lots and ensure they are suitable for human use.”

The proposal does not suit the density suggested for the area throughout the downtown planning process, Holmes continued.

The plan suggested that Old Town preserve its single-family character and style, she said.

“And people purchased the lots on this basis. Perhaps the city would like to buy it back from them if this goes ahead.”

“I thought the proposal sounded fine at first until I saw the plan,” said William Hodgkinson, who lives next door to the proposed development with his wife and children.

He has lived in the family home for the past 20 years, and recently bought the property from his mother.

“The main problem is the positioning of the building itself — it’s so far forward,” he said.

“Where my dwelling ends, that’s where the new proposed building will begin.”

This will eliminate 50 per cent of the sunlight that comes into Hodgkinson’s yard, ruining plans to one day build a garden there, he said.

The parking behind the proposed four-plex would look directly into Hodgkinson’s kitchen and one of the bedrooms.

The parking lot was put behind the two-storey development for esthetic reasons, said Hatton.

Also, the old homes throughout the neighbourhood, which were built at the back of the lots, would no longer be allowed under today’s bylaws, added Janes.

“So we can’t put the structure that far back.”

“I’m very shocked to see the lack of housing, the lack of accommodation in Whitehorse,” Shirley MacDonald told council.

“I’m sick of hearing people complain about new development.”

The four-plex would be extremely beneficial to the downtown neighbourhood and make it healthier, she said.

“I applaud these people for taking the time to put this application forward and I wish everybody and their uncle would come forward to do this.”

Council will make their decision regarding the proposal later this month.

Contact Chris Oke at chriso@yukon-news.com