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Tank farm cleanup gets green light

After heated debates earlier this fall, city council decided to allow temporary quarrying at the tank farm on Monday night.

After heated debates earlier this fall, city council decided to allow temporary quarrying at the tank farm on Monday night.

Only Coun. Betty Irwin voted against the motion to change the official community plan to allow for the cleanup activities at the contaminated site. Irwin had previously voted against the motion. She wanted to wait for the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board’s approval before the city voted to change the official community plan.

“I have to stand behind what I said the first time. I object to any bylaw amending the official community plan without having that YESAB report in place,” she told council.

Earlier this year, a proposal was put forward to build a neighbourhood on the 57-hectare piece of land between Valleyview and Hillcrest. Before work could begin, the soil needed to be cleaned and trucked off site.

Hillcrest residents worried this work would create a loud racket and cause the smell of dug-up petroleum to waft near their homes. They wanted the city to put off changing the official community plan until the YESAB process was complete.

Doing so would have meant work on the project wouldn’t begin for another year.

In September, the four city councillors who were seeking re-election voted to wait until YESAB completed its work before changing the official community plan. Early in October, council reversed that decision.

Council will still need to approve any zoning changes for the project, Mike Gau, director of development services told council Monday night.

Any changes to zoning will be “where the rubber meets the road,” said Coun. Kirk Cameron. He voted against changing the plan in September, but supported October’s vote. However, he may oppose future zoning changes.

Coun. Dave Stockdale originally voted against the change because he felt the residents had real concerns about the project, he said. He changed his mind after the planning committee told him no zoning changes can happen until YESAB issues its report. And the city can put restrictions on zoning, he said.

Residents know about the process and are happy with it, he said.

“Previously, I had voted against it because they had real concerns. If they don’t have real concerns about it, then I’m just fighting a losing battle,” he said.

“We’ll have the checks and balances, and see how things go,” he said, adding he was comfortable the project will be done properly.

Mayor Dan Curtis was enthusiastic in his support for the project.

“I think it’s kind of a win-win-win,” he said.

The project can only benefit the city, the neighbourhood residents and the developers.

“I think we all need to get this done,” he said. “It has to happen.”