Wondering about water

Whitehorse needs to do a little dowsing on the aquifer at the southern end of the city, says Counc. Ranj Pillai. Officials must get a better understanding of just what's there, he said.

Whitehorse needs to do a little dowsing on the aquifer at the southern end of the city, says Counc. Ranj Pillai.

Officials must get a better understanding of just what’s there, he said.

“It’s something that really seems we should be looking at based on the last two or three weeks of proposals that have come forward,” he said.

A couple of weeks ago, a potential condo development near the Meadow Lakes golf course was stymied after several area

residents expressed concerns about water.

Monday, Carrie Stahl and her husband Darren ran into the same problem at council.

They want to subdivide their lot on Moraine Drive in the Whitehorse Copper neighbourhood.

Another property owner on the street is trying to do the same.

City planners urged council to reject both proposals, citing a lack of hydrological data and concerns about the cumulative effects of putting septic systems on smaller lots.

The original environmental reports assumed a minimum lot size of one hectare in the neighbourhood, so planners now want a hydrological study of the area based on smaller lot sizes.

Developers or property owners should pay for the study, said the report.

“I’m a bit disheartened,” said Carrie Stahl. “Why should it be incumbent on us to do a study for the whole neighbourhood?

“I was under the impression zoning changes were considered on a case-by-case basis.”

While city planners consider long-term and potential implications of developments, council is supposed to be focused on the proposal before it.

It can be a difficult position sometimes.

“I have a bit of a problem stopping this based on somebody else potentially doing more development,” said Coun. Dave Austin. “I have a problem with the supposition.”

Other politicians called for more aquifer studies.

The residents’ association should be approached about doing a hydrogeological survey, said Coun. Florence Roberts.

“It shouldn’t just be a desktop survey,” she said.

The city should shoulder some of the costs, said both Coun. Doug Graham and Pillai.

“If you look at the OCP, whether it’s something that happens in 10 years or 50 years, there are areas that, on the south end of the city, have potential for future development,” said Pillai. “It’s our responsibility to take a look at what the complete scenario is before we look at that area for development.”

While Coun. Betty Irwin wants more studies of the impacts on the environment, she doesn’t support more area development.

“If we’re looking at densification we should be looking at places where we have city services, not country residential zones,” she said.

A revised proposal for the condo development at Meadow Lakes is coming back to council for consideration, as are the rezoning requests for the two properties in the Whitehorse Copper neighbourhood.

Contact Josh Kerr at

joshk@yukon-news.com