Shrubbery and housing construction surround the Whistle Bend entrance sign in Whitehorse on July 17. A proposed zoning amendment for a lot in Whistle Bend was rejected by Whitehorse city council on July 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Whitehorse council shoots down Whistle Bend zoning amendment

Developer sought change to allow townhouses instead of apartments

A proposed zoning amendment for a lot in Whistle Bend was rejected by Whitehorse city council on July 23.

Developer Randy Audette had applied to change the zoning of the lot, located at 11 Tarahne Way, from RCM2 to RCM1. This would have meant that instead of apartment-style housing with a minimum density of 50 units, he could have built a townhouse development of 36 to 40 units.

City administration’s recommendation, back in June, was that the amendment be defeated at first reading.

During a public hearing on July 9, one Whitehorse resident opposed the amendment. Steven Roddick said it would have a negative impact on the diversity and vitality of Whistle Bend as a neighbourhood and the city as a whole. Roddick said building higher density next to transit routes is critical to meeting long-term sustainability goals, and said high-density neighbourhoods can limit sprawl.

Before second reading on July 23, Coun. Samson Hartland and Coun. Dan Boyd said they supported the project going ahead with an amendment.

Hartland said Audette’s is one of two lots in Whistle Bend zoned for a rental-style build. Both lots have been sitting vacant for six years. Hartland said the city is experiencing a housing crunch and a rental crisis and his preference was to see some units go on the market rather than none.

“There’s a lot of planning, a lot of talking going on, but very little action oriented towards getting rental housing on the market,” he said. “And putting a vacant lot out there saying to folks ‘build it and they will come’ we can see is not working.”

Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu said she was concerned that the plans for the re-zoned project don’t include visitor parking or green space. She said this opened the site up to potentially having even fewer units than proposed.

She also said she thought the re-zoning was premature considering the Whistle Bend Continuing Care Facility needs housing. She mentioned the students who may need housing when Yukon College transitions to a university, and the fact that mining seems to be picking up.

Having apartments available is important, she said.

“I think if there was a wise investor out there, they would scoop up these apartments so they could actually rent them out to the folks that are going to be coming and living in our territory.”

Mayor Dan Curtis said he too sympathized with the housing crisis and said everyone needs a place to live. However, he said he wanted to see Whistle Bend offer an opportunity for everyone to live there, and ultimately voted down the amendment.

Developer Randy Audette was not available for an interview by deadline.

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

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