The now empty lot at 410 Cook Street in Whitehorse on January 19, 2021. Due to a tie vote, Whitehorse city council defeated a zoning change to require fewer parking spots in a planned micro-housing development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

The now empty lot at 410 Cook Street in Whitehorse on January 19, 2021. Due to a tie vote, Whitehorse city council defeated a zoning change to require fewer parking spots in a planned micro-housing development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Tie vote by council defeats zoning amendment

Parking requirements for affordable housing project remain in place

A tie vote by Whitehorse city council has defeated a proposal to reduce parking at what is planned to be an affordable housing project at 410 Cook Street.

The vote has developers taking another look at how the project might proceed.

A 16-unit micro-housing project is planned for 410 Cook Street in downtown Whitehorse.

At Whitehorse city council’s March 22 meeting, a 3-3 vote by the six members of council present defeated a proposed zoning amendment to reduce the required 11 parking spots by three and eliminate a loading zone.

Councillors Samson Hartland, Dan Boyd and Laura Cabott voted against the rezoning with councillors Jocelyn Curteanu, Steve Roddick and Jan Stick voting in favour.

Anytime there is a tie vote by council, the motion in question is defeated. While there would normally be seven members of council present, Mayor Dan Curtis has stepped back from his position on council while he runs in the territorial election.

Coun. Jan Stick is serving as deputy mayor.

Energy North is planning to build the 16 micro-units and two commercial spaces. It was announced in 2020 the project had secured funding from the Yukon government for affordable housing.

In seeking the city zoning change, developers highlighted space constraints on the property and argued the project may not be as viable if the full 11 parking spaces are required.

During a public hearing on the proposal both support and opposition to the project was expressed. Supporters emphasized the dire need for more affordable housing in the city, while those opposed noted the impact such a development could have on parking in the area.

A similar discussion dominated council chambers ahead of the tie vote, with Hartland being the first to speak up, noting downtown parking is an issue the city continues to struggle with and this could further exacerbate that.

“I think the development is a good one, one that needs to proceed, but one that also needs to meet the litmus of our zoning bylaws,” he said.

Boyd argued that removing parking requirements could have unintended consequences for the city.

Cabott focused on the future of the area in her comments, pointing out that redevelopment is expected as the city gets set to dispose of the Municipal Services Building nearby on Fourth Avenue, and the former Salvation Army shelter building up for sale among other possibilities.

While parking may not be a major issue right now, Cabott suggested it would be premature to take away from parking requirements now, knowing the developments that could be coming.

“My concern is looking into the future and the future development in that area,” she said.

Cabott said she likes the proposed project itself as it aligns with the city’s goal of greater density downtown while also meeting a need for more affordable housing options, but she said could not support the parking reduction.

Curteanu, Roddick and Stick, meanwhile, focused on the need for housing in the city with Roddick suggesting the city has measures it can put in place to help manage parking should it become a problem.

“We’re talking about three parking spaces,” he said.

Curteanu voiced her agreement with Roddick, adding housing is a much harder problem to address.

“Housing is, in my opinion, a basic human right,” she said.

Stick pointed out that the housing issue is having a major impact on many in the city. Along with the challenge it creates for residents trying to find housing, it’s also affecting employers who are having trouble recruiting staff because of the cost and difficulty finding housing.

“It’s a huge issue right now,” she said, arguing that for her, housing is of a greater priority right now.

Energy North owner Kirk Potter said he and others involved in the development will be meeting in the next couple of days to weigh their options and look at how they might proceed. Had they known the vote was going to come during an election when the mayor has stepped back from his role and could result in a tie and ultimately defeat of the zoning change, they may have chosen to bring it forward at a different time, he said.

“It’s unfortunate,” Potter commented of the vote, adding developers wanted to build as many units as possible and provide affordable housing through the development.

With a number of other rental properties in town, Potter said he doesn’t expect all tenants of the building will have vehicles and thus didn’t see the parking change as a major issue. He said about half his current tenants have vehicles.

Options for the building could look at a different design, fewer units or other possibilities to be considered in the coming days.

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

Rezoning

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

Just Posted

During our recent conversation, John Nicholson showed me snapshots of his time working on the Yukon riverboats 70 years ago. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: Yukon man relives the riverboat days after seven decades

John Nicholson took summer work on Yukon steamers in the 1950s

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: Another election, another anomaly

Monday’s “double-tie” election is generating some free publicity for the Yukon as Outside news agencies scramble to find someone to interview.

A cyclist rides along the Millenium Trail in downtown Whitehorse on a frigid Feb. 9. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of an e-bike bylaw that would designate how e-bike riders can use city trails. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
First two readings passed on Whitehorse e-bike bylaw

Delegate calls on city to consider age restrictions and further regulations

Whitehorse City Hall at its Steele Street entrance. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Change of plans approved for city hall

Project would see 1966 city hall demolished

A city map shows the property at 107 Range Road. The zoning is now in place for developers to proceed with plans for a Dairy Queen drive-thru. If plans proceed on schedule the new restaurant is anticipated to open in October. (Cyrstal Schick/Yukon News)
October opening eyed for Dairy Queen

Will depend on everything going according to plan

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

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

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

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

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

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Two new cases of COVID-19 variant identified in territory

“If variants were to get out of control in the Yukon, the impact could be serious.”

Most Read