Watson Lake and Dawson plan for new lots

A new agreement between Yukon, Watson Lake and Dawson will allow the two communities to develop their own lots.

A new agreement between Yukon, Watson Lake and Dawson will allow the two communities to develop their own lots.

The agreement, signed Wednesday, will expedite the creation of new lots, said Watson Lake Mayor Richard Durocher.

“We got caught with our pants down,” he said. “We basically are running short of property available for people who want to buy property in the community, affordable property. So we need to get moving on a way of developing more property so people can buy.”

The land development protocol formalizes the process for the towns to work with the Yukon government to identify the need for and develop new lots.

“I think that’s the key thing with the protocol agreement, is that fact that discussions will happen between the two levels of government to recognize the need for lots,” said Durocher.

The framework for sharing costs for land development will be dealt with on a “case-by-case basis,” said Community Services Minister Elaine Taylor.

The agreement puts communities “in the driver’s seat,” she said.

“We’re very pleased to have signed these off.”

The agreements are modelled on the land development protocol that has been in place with Whitehorse since 2006.

That agreement has seen the development of Ingram and Whistle Bend subdivisions.

The next step for Watson Lake is to come up with a strategic plan for lot development, said Durocher.

“Right now, Watson Lake is falling short in just about every type of lot. We’re short in country residential, we’re short in residential, our industrial lots are being scooped up as well. So we’re having issues all over the place.

“Realistically, we can’t do them all at once because they’re fairly expensive to do, so is there a strategy we can take on where the responsibility is spread?” he asked.

Work on that will begin in August, and will include consultation with the community.

A few small parcels of land have been identified that could be developed quickly, perhaps ready by late summer 2014, said Durocher.

“It wouldn’t take much of an investment from the municipality or on the territorial government’s behalf to get them open. That will ease pressure in the short term, but it’s not a long-term solution.

“That doesn’t solve our long-term needs or keep us ahead of the curve if we go into another boom or even if the economy grows more.”

The new agreement will allow for the long-range planning that will be necessary to keep up with demand, he said.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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