A proposed nine-unit apartment building on Centennial Street does not fit in with the character of the neighbourhood and has the potential to block out sunlight and views and take away the privacy of neighbouring residents, Whitehorse city council heard at its Oct. 15 meeting.
A public hearing on the proposed rezoning of 1306 Centennial Street in Porter Creek was held with five residents speaking out against changing it from its current residential single-detached zone to a multi-residential zone.
The multi-residential zone would allow for a development of up to 11 units — though the developer is proposing nine — with a maximum height limit growing from 10 to 15 meters, which could be three storeys.
Many argued the height is too much for the area and while there are other multi-residential homes nearby, they have been planned to fit into the area. The six-plex at the corner of 12th Avenue and Centennial Street, for example, is designed to fit with other homes in the neighbourhood. Even with those efforts there are issues with a number of people parking in front of the homes along Centennial.
Former city councillor (and former territorial MLA) Doug Graham, a resident of the area, argued if anyone thinks the required 10 parking spaces for the apartment unit will be adequate, they’re living in a “dream world”.
Like many who spoke, Graham also took issue with the nearly 10-m garage that’s already being built on the property, referring to it as a “large monstrosity”.
Developer Scott Darling said the garage has all the permits in place and meets the current residential single-detached zoning requirements.
“We’re trying to play by the rules,” he said, adding that when he and his numbered company began working on the development this summer they looked at what could be done within the rules that are in place while waiting for the zoning change to come forward to council.
Even if the proposed project does not go ahead, Darling said a development will happen on the site though the number of units may be reduced to meet the zoning requirements for a residential single detached zone instead.
He explained the garage would also feature a utility room and elevator maintenance area with space on the second floor for Darling to work.
He wants the building to be part of and welcomed by the community and highlighted the need for housing overall throughout Whitehorse.
Other delegates like Cam Kos argued there are other areas such as Whistle Bend where multi-residential lots are already available without having to rezone.
Darling pointed to a number of multi-residential developments along Centennial beyond the six-plex and said work has been done to alter the designs to fit with city plans and proposals.
Along with the concerns about the height of the building and fitting into the character of the neighbourhood, council also heard concerns about vehicles parking in the back of the property and the possibility of gas and oil leaking onto neighbouring properties and noise that could come from that parking area.
In addition to the five delegates speaking out against the rezoning, council also learned the city had received two written submissions also opposing it.
After the meeting, Mayor Dan Curtis said balancing the need for housing in the community with the concerns of residents who want the character of the neighborhood to remain is a challenge.
Concerns about the height limit are “something we can talk about” as the city moves forward in the zoning process, the mayor said.
That process will see a staff report on the public hearing come forward Oct. 22. It’s expected council will then vote on second and third reading Oct. 28.
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