The public’s second opportunity to speak out on the proposed vision for the City of Whitehorse to 2040 will not happen for at least a few weeks.
At an Oct. 28 special meeting, Whitehorse city council voted to delay the process for the Official Community Plan (OCP) after some changes were not in the updated version included with the second public hearing notice for Nov. 14.
A second public hearing had been called due to the substantial changes that had come forward.
Coun. Kirk Cameron brought forward the motion for the delay after noticing one major change missing from the updated plan.
Council had voted to remove a provision for a study of a possible transportation corridor through the McIntyre Creek area. When Cameron looked at the latest version of the OCP going out to the public, that update wasn’t there.
“That got the ball rolling,” he said in an interview after council’s special meeting.
Upon further inspection, it was learned another change in height limits proposed for the downtown (up to a maximum of 30 metres in some areas) also wasn’t included and that a remaining reference to Stevens Quarry needed to be taken out after council voted to designate the area for future planning rather than as a quarry.
While those changes were missed, Cameron and other council members made it clear at the Oct. 28 meeting that administration had worked to get the updated document out to the public and schedule the public hearing as soon as possible after council voted on a long list of changes. Among others: short-term rental accommodations would be studied, potential development has been removed for an area near Tamarack Drive, and more planning would be done to address increased traffic between the Porter Creek/Whistle Bend area and downtown via Mountain View Drive, Copper Road and Quartz Road.
They were debated and voted on during a marathon council meeting of about six hours earlier in October and triggered the second public hearing.
“Administration’s tried their darnedest to keep up with us because we’ve been pushing hard and, to my way of thinking, they almost got it perfect,” Cameron said.
“But we just want to make sure that the document that’s out there — that’s going to inform the second hearing process — it’s pretty critical that that’s completely accurate so citizens know where people are coming from, and then we make some decisions.”
Though the second public hearing will be delayed, Cameron pointed out that had the proposed OCP been left as is and council still wanted the changes included, the city could have found itself hosting a third public hearing due to the provision that requires another public hearing if major changes to a document are proposed after the public hearing has been held.
With no regular council meetings, where council votes on issues, until Nov. 14, a special meeting was required to alter the public hearing schedule.
Other councillors voiced their agreement ahead of the vote, with Coun. Ted Laking describing the situation as “good news”.
“We’re almost at the finish line of the Official Community Plan,” he said. “We, as a council, put in some very aggressive timelines that it really moved this forward. But I think that right at the finish line, it’s definitely worth it to our citizens and the future community just to take that extra couple of weeks, make sure that we’re putting the best possible product in front of our residents. And so I don’t see this as anything other than good news.”
Others also put emphasis on ensuring the OCP put to the public reflects all the changes made by council.
The resolution by council essentially pauses the OCP process for two weeks while administration works to incorporate all of the changes. Administration will then provide a report with council members to confirm the document before a public hearing is held.
The new public hearing process will be advertised.
It’s expected that with the new timelines, a new OCP could be adopted in March 2023.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org