It will be at least September before Whitehorse city council considers on a number of changes to the zoning bylaw.
In a 4-3 vote at Whitehorse city council’s Aug. 9 meeting, members voted to defer third reading of the changes to its next meeting.
The changes are aimed at improving and streamlining the development permit process as well as creating more clear guidelines around the requirements (such as grading and drainage) for developments.
With the Aug. 9 meeting being the last one ahead of the annual summer break where meetings aren’t scheduled for a few weeks, that means it won’t come forward until at least the next meeting on Sept. 7.
It was Coun. Laura Cabott who proposed the deferral with councillors Dan Boyd, Steve Roddick and Samson Hartland joining her in voting in favour while Mayor Dan Curtis and councillors Jocelyn Curteanu and Jan Stick voted against the deferral.
The move to defer and vote followed a lengthy discussion with Coun. Dan Boyd first raising concerns over the certain requirements proposed for both smaller developments such as a single detached home as well as larger projects.
Boyd argued there could be “unintended consequences” with such stringent requirements for smaller structures.
A single detached home, for example, is not likely to need a loading zone nearby. It may also be difficult for small developers to get information on things like existing infrastructure locations that the bylaw would call for, he pointed out.
Cabott said she too has similar concerns after speaking with some contractors who commented the proposed requirements in the bylaw may be too onerous.
“I am concerned, having listened to the experts out in the field there, that we may have gone too far on this and it is onerous in situations it ought not to be,” Cabott said, also stating that many contractors have been busy with projects over the past few months and hadn’t had a chance to speak to the city about proposed bylaw changes.
For it’s part, city administration told council many of the proposed bylaw requirements are already outlined in other guidelines that must be met for developments to proceed. They also highlighted an extensive input process that included speaking with a number of contractors and a public hearing which garnered little response. Staff acknowledged that efforts are underway to look other tools that could help get more feedback.
Mike Gau, the city’s director of development services, also suggested deferring the matter to September may not result in significant feedback as a number of developers continue to be busy into the fall, getting permits and continuing work on ongoing projects.
Acting city manager Valerie Braga said further consultation work could mean using city resources that would otherwise be directed to other initiatives.
She noted council could opt to defer the matter beyond September, but that would likely see it considered by the next council to be elected in October.
Curteanu commented that delaying the matter further “would not be productive” with Stick stating her view that a lot of work had already gone into getting feedback.
Meanwhile, Curtis voiced concerns that the deferral would result in more work for city staff, arguing that “business must continue” for the city.
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