Property lots at 1181 and 1191 Front St. photographed in Whitehorse on Aug. 1. On Sept. 17, Whitehorse city staff suggested further amendments to a zoning bylaw amendment that would see the building height limits of these properties increased. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Whitehorse city staff suggest amendments to waterfront hotel plans

Whitehorse city staff have suggested further amendments to a zoning bylaw amendment that would see the building height limits increased for waterfront properties at 1191 and 1181 Front St.

At the standing committees meeting on Sept. 17, Mike Ellis, senior planner with the city of Whitehorse, told council that the response to the amendments from River’s Edge Partnership Ltd. (the company requesting the amendment) was favourable.

River’s Edge had asked for height limits to be increased from 15 meters to 20 meters for a hotel and mixed-use development.

Ellis told council that feedback from the public included two supportive delegations and 16 written submissions, nine of which were supportive.

Those with concerns cited impacts to views, incompatibility of the proposal with waterfront planning documents and negative impacts to waterfront amenities.

Support came from those who felt the project’s design is considerate of view corridors, that it will encourage a First Nations presence on the waterfront (River’s Edge is majority owned by the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation), will enhance parking and improve tourist accommodations, and bring community, economic and tourism benefits.

Ellis told council the staff recommendation is to bring the bylaw forward for second and third reading, with three amendments.

For the property at 1181 Front St. (which is designed to measure 19 meters), Ellis suggested a regulation that specifies a setback of 7.6 meters from the property line facing the Yukon River for any section of the building measuring over 12.5 meters.

“This will help protect the pedestrian environment along the waterfront by preventing tall uninterrupted walls facing the trail and the river. This will also encourage appropriate building massing and articulation in an area with a strong design focus,” read the administrative report.

Ellis told council a second regulation would specify that, for buildings over 15 meters in height, a minimum of 50 per cent of the gross floor area must be a hotel. This would discourage the construction of office buildings and other projects that don’t fit the vision of the waterfront.

Finally, he suggested reducing the maximum height allowance for 1191 Front St. (the property closer to the waterfront) to 15 meters.

Mayor Dan Curtis said he found the report enlightening.

“I’d encourage anyone who’s unsure what this process has done over the last 10 or 20 years to please go online and read this report because you’ve done a great job,” he said.

The issue will come forward at council on Sept. 24.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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