The now empty lot at 410 Cook Street in Whitehorse on Jan. 19. As developers move forward with plans for a housing development that would feature 16 micro-units, Whitehorse city council is considering a zoning change that would reduce the number of required parking spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

The now empty lot at 410 Cook Street in Whitehorse on Jan. 19. As developers move forward with plans for a housing development that would feature 16 micro-units, Whitehorse city council is considering a zoning change that would reduce the number of required parking spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Rezoning recommended

Council considers moving forward with change for 410 Cook Str.

The rezoning of 410 Cook Street could move forward March 22 despite opposition expressed during a public hearing held in February.

At Whitehorse city council’s March 15 meeting, city planner Sidharth Agarwal brought forward a public hearing report on the proposed zoning change along with a recommendation council move forward with second and third reading of the rezoning.

The five-page report highlighted the issues brought up in the eight submissions expressing opposition to the proposal as well as the four submissions stating support.

The plans, as proposed, would see a housing project featuring 16 micro-units built along with two commercial spaces. Developers are asking for the zoning change to reduce the required parking.

Under the proposal, the required residential parking spaces would change from eight (at one parking spot per two units) to seven (less than one space per two units), from two spaces for visitor parking (at a required one spot for every seven units) to none, and from one required loading space for 930 cubic meters of gross floor area to none.

Commercial parking would remain the same at one space with an option to pay cash-in-lieu of providing that space.

In his report, Agarwal noted those opposed to the zoning change argued the proposed parking would not meet the needs of future residents, would lead to more drivers parking on the street, road safety issues and could impact snow clearing. Concerns were also expressed over the potential lack of space available for landscaping, possible shadowing and expressed a need for changes to overall parking regulations.

Support for the rezoning expressed in four submissions was also highlighted in the report. Agarwal noted those in support cited the need for more affordable housing in the city.

Throughout the report, Agarwal highlighted a number of plans and documents that stress the need for housing in the city, while also noting it could provide options for residents who don’t own vehicles and noting there are options the city has to manage on-street parking.

“While many residents have raised concerns … with the proposed amendment, there is also some support for the proposed amendment from residents and it is in line with the council’s strategic priorities, Safe at Home plan, Sustainability Plan, Official Community Plan and Housing Action Plan for Yukon,” Agarwal said. “Increased traffic and parking activity naturally accompany all development and densification projects, but there are also benefits to be considered.

“Notably, the proposed development will increase the affordable housing supply within the Downtown. Through densification, it will help reduce sprawl and traffic, and provide more opportunities for residents to walk/bike to work.”

It will be another week before council votes on whether to move forward with the final two readings of the bylaw, but parking and the future of the area was the focus of discussion among council following Agarwal’s presentation.

As Coun. Laura Cabott pointed out, it’s anticipated the area will see high-density development in the years to come.

“I think we need to be very careful at this stage,” she said.

Cabott also suggested that while in larger cities there may be a portion of the population that doesn’t own their own vehicles, in Whitehorse that percentage is much less. As she pointed out, to get anywhere outside city limits or if you want to go anywhere quickly, you need a vehicle and there are many residents who have their own vehicle as a means to access the nearby wilderness or to get out of town even if they choose to walk, bike or use transit to get around the city.

Coun. Steve Roddick, meanwhile, suggested it may be time to look at incentives for those who don’t take up parking spaces, such as charging a fee for on-site parking spots. He stressed though the city would have to take greater measures to deal with on-street parking as well.

Another issue that came up for Coun. Dan Boyd was the argument that the project may not be viable without the reduction in parking requirements.

He questioned whether the city has any means to test the viability of the project with current parking regulations.

As city planning manager Melodie Simard noted though, the city does not have a real estate branch that could look at those issues. She added that it has been well-documented that parking requirements can be a barrier to development in these types of projects.

Agarwal also noted that while the city doesn’t have a performance test to see if such a project would be viable, meetings are held with developers as they move through the city process.

“We work with developers to see what reasonably makes sense,” he said.

Council will vote on whether to move ahead with the final two readings of the bylaw next week.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

zoning

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A competitor takes a jump in front of a crowd at the Mount Sima Up Hill Challenge in Whitehorse on April 17. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Spring shred: Snowmobiles gather on Mount Sima for 2021 Uphill Challenge

Riders had a sunny and warm day on the hill, but still plenty of snowpack on the uphill course.

Sheila MacLean tosses her winter blues in the fire to be burned away in Whitehorse on March 24, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Burning permits will be revoked April 25

The Whitehorse Fire Department extended the open burning season

Maura Forrest/Yukon News File photos from Beaver Creek White River First Nation
Bessie Chassé elected as new chief of White River First Nation

“I was happy that the membership saw that I was ready for this position.”

X
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for April 21, 2021.… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Yukon MP Larry Bagnell speaks at an announcement in Whitehorse on July 8, 2019.
Federal budget includes changes to Northern Residents Deduction, minimum wage, green energy funds

The massive budget included some rare references to the territory.

Doug Bell photographed in Whitehorse in 2008, for an article about his role as Yukon Commissioner in the early 1980’s. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon remembers former commissioner Doug Bell

Bell passed away in Whitehorse on Sunday, at the age of 94.

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Whitehorse International Airport in Whitehorse on May 6, 2020.
NAV CANADA suspends review for Whitehorse airport traffic control

NAV CANADA announced on April 15 that it is no longer considering… Continue reading

A bulldozer levels piles of garbage at the Whitehorse landfill in January 2012. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Rural dump closures and tipping fees raise concern from small communities

The government has said the measures are a cost-cutting necessity

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at city council matters for the week of April 12

Joel Krahn/joelkran.com Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: Hands of Hope, the quilt of poppies

Toilets are important Ed. note: Hands of Hope is a Whitehorse-based non-profit… Continue reading

Most Read