The road into Whitehorse’s tank farm, a former White Pass fuel storage area, as seen in 2012 near the Valleyview neighbourhood. A section of the former tank farm site could be designated for commercial/industrial use under the city’s Official Community Plan if a proposed amendment goes ahead. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)

Whitehorse city council contemplates OCP change for section of the tank farm

Change would allow for commercial industrial use instead of current residential classification

A 7.3-hectare section of the former tank farm site that sits between Hamilton Boulevard and Burns Road could be designated for commercial/industrial use under the city’s Official Community Plan if a proposed amendment goes ahead.

City planning manager Mélodie Simard brought forward the change at Whitehorse city council’s March 23 meeting. It would see the OCP designation for the site close to Burns Road and Wasson Place changed from its current residential-urban designation to the commercial/industrial designation.

The 56 hectare former tank farm site is being redeveloped with extensive remediation having been underway in recent years.

In the case of this specific area, at the southeast corner, it has been found to not be suitable for residential development due to deep depressions in the land created during remediation and quarrying work underway in recent years.

That means the grade of the land in the area is extremely varied.

“Due to the significant grade change and previous elimination of organic materials, this portion of the Tank Farm site is directly adjacent to the industrial/commercial uses on Wasson Place and Burns Road and is likely not suitable for residential development,” Simard told council.

She highlighted a section of the OCP which states there must be vegetated buffers between service commercial sites and residential area, though it does not go into specifics on how far the commercial area needs to be from residential areas.

The proposal would see the new commercial/industrial area approximately 65 m from other planned residential areas within the tank farm; 120 m from Hillcrest; 560 m from McIntyre; 860 m from a Kwanlin Dün First Nation parcel on Sumanik Drive and 1,000 m from Valleyview.

The site would also need to be serviced, but Simard said the standards and requirements for utilities would be detailed in a later development agreement should the OCP change and rezoning be approved.

“Since potential servicing concerns and design can be addressed more thoroughly through subsequent approval processes (zoning and subdivision), they should not impact the land use decision put forward as part of the OCP amendment,” Simard said.

Council is scheduled to vote on first reading March 30, but there’s still a question about whether the subsequent public hearing will go ahead April 27 as proposed.

Coun. Laura Cabott, who was among members attending by phone, highlighted the COVID-19 pandemic and wondered if now is the right time to bring it forward as “some may miss the opportunity because it’s not front and centre in their mind.” Simard said that under the process approximately 400 households will be directly notified of the hearing and added city officials are still looking at whether a public hearing — as defined under the Municipal Act — can be held with only an opportunity for written submissions or if residents need to be given the opportunity to speak in person. If that’s the case, there could be an issue given the restrictions on gatherings.

Simard said the city will be looking at the issue, but that first reading can go forward. After that, council can vote to defer the public hearing to a later date beyond April 27. Coun. Dan Boyd, who was the lone member of council physically present at the meeting to chair the session as deputy mayor, said he would like there to be a community meeting hosted by the owners of the tank farm property as well with Simard noting that requirement could also be added at first reading though it may be some time before such a meeting could happen.

If first reading passes and the timeline goes ahead as proposed with the public hearing April 27, a report would come forward to council May 19 ahead of second reading May 25. If second reading is passed, there would be a ministerial review that could take up to 45 days before coming back to council July 27 for third reading.

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

Whitehorse city council

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