The hopes of a quarry by Norcope Construction near the popular tourist area in Miles Canyon were crushed Jan. 15 by Whitehorse City Council. (Stefan Reicheneder/Wikimedia Commons)

Whitehorse council puts an end to quarry plans

City council unanimously votes to reject OCP amendment to allow for quarry

Quarry dreams were crushed the night of Jan. 15 when Whitehorse City Council rejected a proposal from Norcope Construction.

The Whitehorse-based company has been asking the city, since Sept. 2016, to amend its Official Community Plan designation for a parcel of land next to the UTAH siding yard, at kilometre 1415 on the Alaska Highway.

Norcope was looking for the designation to be changed from mixed-use-industrial/commercial to industrial, which would allow for a quarry.

City staff had previously expressed concerns about the site’s proximity to residential areas as well as about Norcope’s plan to use Miles Canyon Road, a popular recreational road, as an access road for trucks. There was also concern from city planners that after Norcope was done with the pit, the site would be unusable.

The Ta’an Kwäch’än Council and the Kwanlin Dün First Nation, both of which own land in the area, provided letters stating they were not supportive of the amendment.

Norcope recently revised its original proposal, reducing the size of the quarry and creating a buffer betwen the proposed pit and residential areas. Council still went with the recommendation of the city planning committee to defeat the bylaw at first reading.

Doug Gonder, Norcope president, stood near a handful of Norcope employees after council’s decision.

Gonder said he felt he had been given a green light by the city to develop the site (last week, city planner Kinden Kosick said administration had always had concerns), and was disappointed by the outcome.

“What I find real puzzling is that you’re working between administration, who is voting against you while you pay your fee to go ahead and get the application started in the first place,” said Gonder. “So we’ve expended a gigantic amount of cost and time to this point to have administration within the city come in and defeat it.”

Gonder said there’s demand for gravel, so his company will try again, maybe with a new council.

“We’re back to square one,” he said.

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

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