A 7.3-hectare parcel of land currently designated as residential at the former tank site is one step closer to being designated for commercial and industrial use.
At its Sept. 14 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved second reading of the Official Community Plan land designation change for the area that sits behind Wasson Place and Burns Road in Hillcrest.
While the OCP change requires ministerial approval before coming back to council for third reading, it was noted by several council members the change brings the development of the entire former tank farm closer to reality.
“The potential for development is there and is starting to happen,” Coun. Laura Cabott said, highlighting the work that’s happened over many years to remediate the land so that development can happen.
While the designation change of the parcel of land would provide for commercial/industrial use in that area, it could also help move planned residential development forward in other parts of the tank farm.
As it was highlighted in previous reports, after remediation work was done, it was found this section was no longer suitable for residential development, though it could be used for commercial/industrial purposes.
The developers plan to level the area, using gravel that’s taken out for other areas of development of the tank farm while also getting this area ready for commercial/industrial use.
A buffer would be required between the industrial area and any residential areas.
Cabott noted the change in designation will mean getting much-needed commercial/industrial lots to market. It is the best use for that section of the tank farm, she said.
Acknowledging input from residents in nearby neighbourhoods, Cabott also said that while she is sympathetic to their concerns and they will experience unwanted impacts from work on the site such as noise, it is an area that is surrounded by other developments and private property. There may also be restrictions put on when work can be done, thereby mitigating some of the impacts.
She also pointed out that while this may move the development work forward, there are still many steps before it will happen.
Among those are third reading and ministerial approval of the OCP change, zoning and development agreements (which would include making the site a direct control district that would allow the city to have more controls over individual areas) that need to be in place before that work can happen.
Other council members also highlighted the need for more industrial land to be available in the city, with Coun. Steve Roddick also stating that while he recognizes the need for industrial land and it makes sense to move forward at this point he will be watching to ensure a detailed overall plan for the entire tank farm site is in place along with certification showing remediation work is complete
He said he would vote in favour of second reading for the OCP change, but it was not a guarantee he will support future readings or zoning changes for the site.
The Sept. 14 vote by council came following two public hearings on the designation change with the first one held in April.
Council voted to have a second public hearing due to a number of changes that had come forward after the first that would result in the site being a direct control district and remove remediation policies for the tank farm as that work is finished.
Both support and opposition were expressed for the changes at the public hearing.
Among the submissions in favour was a document containing approximately 450 names of people stating their support for the plan, highlighting the need for commercial properties in the city and pointing out that it will be nearby commercial/industrial land already existing on Wasson Place.
Those arguing against the change maintained the site should be used for residential use as industrial/commercial uses would not fit with the nearby neighbourhoods and would impact residents.
Noise and pollution were also cited as a major concern among those opposing the OCP change with some highlighting the city’s logo as a wilderness city.
With second reading of the OCP changed now passed, the ministerial review at the territorial level can take up to 45 days.
Following that, third reading will come back to city council for approval.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org