Whistle Bend lots up for grabs

Right now it's just a muddy field surrounded by trees, but by next year there could be houses on this spot. A land lottery for the new Whistle Bend subdivision starts next month.

Right now it’s just a muddy field surrounded by trees, but by next year there could be houses on this spot.

A land lottery for the new Whistle Bend subdivision starts next month.

“This represents a huge step in a process that dates back many, many years,” said Mayor Bev Buckway, standing at a podium set up on a new stretch of road. “It represents hundreds of hours of consultation, thousands of hours of work and of course millions of dollars of community investment.”

With a $250 million price tag, the Whistle Bend subdivision is by far the largest development ever undertaken in the territory, said Elaine Taylor, the Yukon’s minister of Community Services.

While the city designed the project, it’s the Yukon government that’s developing it.

The territory will recoup the full development cost of the subdivision from the sale of lots, but it isn’t looking to make a profit. On average, a new lot in Whistle Bend will be 6.5 per cent below market value.

“It certainly wont impede or negatively impact the price of land in other parts of the city,” said Taylor.

It’s still not cheap, though.

The price of a single family lot starts at $104,00 with multifamily lots starting at $180,000.

Duplex lots are a little less expensive. They start at $76,000. However, they have to be bought in sets of two.

Habitat for Humanity will be given a pair of lots to build its own duplex.

With 90 single family lots, eight duplexes and seven multifamily lots, there will be room for 262 units in the first phase of the subdivision.

With 22 per cent growth in the last 10 years, it’s been a challenge keeping up with the housing demand, said Buckway.

“We know we got caught in a housing crunch,” she said. “We did not have lots available, and so we’re trying to keep ahead of that lot inventory that we’ve set out. This is just the perfect way to do it.”

There are eight phases plotted for the subdivision.

Originally it was only five phases, but that changed this summer to give the project more flexibility in meeting market demand, said Pat Molloy, the territory’s director of infrastructure development.

Each phase will include about 150 lots.

The average lots will be a little smaller than what people are used to elsewhere in the city, said Kinden Kosick, a Whitehorse city planner.

“This is one of the last large development areas in the city, so we want to be able to put as much development here as we can, so we can keep inside of our urban containment boundary and not go into untouched wilderness areas around the city.”

“We think that because we live here that we have all sorts of available land, but that is not the case,” added Buckway.

Planning for Whistle Bend started six years ago. The final plans for the subdivision were approved by the city in 2009.

The engineering had to be revised last year after it was discovered that the plans for drainage wouldn’t work.

Additional trees had to be cleared and 200,000 cubic metres of sand was moved around to raise lot levels so water would drain properly.

That ended up landing the Yukon government in court.

Norcope Enterprises, which held the contract to install the subsurface infrastructure, sued the government over the way that additional work was awarded. The company parked several rock trucks and other equipment around the legislature to protest the government’s actions.

The suit was eventually settled out of court.

Despite this drama, work never stopped.

“We’re still on time, and we’re still on budget,” said Taylor. “When it comes to large contracts, huge development initiatives like Whistle Bend, the single-largest development in Yukon history, there will be some challenges along the way.”

The lottery for the first 111 lots will open Sept. 26.

More lots will go up for sale next year, when the second phase is ready. The six additional phases will be developed as needed.

When Whistle Bend is complete, there is expected to be room for up to 8,000 people, or 3,600 families.

Contact Josh Kerr at

joshk@yukon-news.com

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