‘We can’t allow the territorial government to continue directing development within the city of Whitehorse,” says city councillor Doug Graham.
“And that’s what’s happening when we allow them to go ahead and sell blocks of land like this.”
The issue arose at Tuesday night’s council meeting when council discussed an application to expand the Takhini Mobile Home Park.
The proposed site is adjacent to Northlands Trailer Park at the intersection of Range Road and Mountainview Drive. It would have contained 45 mobile-home lots.
At the public hearing held on March 10, those opposed to the expansion expressed concerns about the density in the area and the reduction of green space.
City administration confirmed that the area is approaching the city’s maximum density threshold and there is limited green space.
At the beginning of the meeting the owner of Takhini Mobile Home Park, Barry Bellchambers asked council to look favourably on his application.
Whitehorse needs more low-cost affordable housing and projects like the mobile-home lot expansion are required, said Bellchambers.
The successful rezoning would have triggered a value assessment by the territorial government to sell the property directly to Bellchambers.
However, council rejected the application.
“I don’t have a problem with the development per se,” said Graham.
“And I think that it’s really unfortunate that the proponent gets caught in the middle of this.”
The problem, Graham explained, is that the territory makes deals with developers and then tells them to go to the city to have it rezoned.
“Well, that puts a developer in a heck of a position,” he said.
“We have to sit down with YTG and say, none of this land gets developed until there’s a public process by which the land is, first of all, sold so that everybody has a fair and equal opportunity to purchase the land.”
The land was available to anyone who applied for it, but Graham would like to see land advertised as available and sold in a fair up-front manner, either through proposal or by lottery.
“Citizens in the city of Whitehorse had an opportunity to come out and make their feelings known about Arkell, the same as they did with Stan McCowan, and that’s the way it should be done,” he said.
“Did you see any citizen involved in this? It didn’t happen because they were never given the opportunity and no one else was given the opportunity.”
“As much as I hate to say to the developer I’m voting against this, I am, simply because of the way it’s being done,” said Graham.
“We can’t allow YTG to continue directing development of this type in the city of Whitehorse.”
The land development protocol between the Yukon government and the city of Whitehorse states that the Yukon will be responsible for the disposition of developed land until the city and the territory agree to an alternate agreement.
After Graham’s speech, Mayor Bev Buckway asked administration to write a letter to the Yukon government asking it when there will be progress on this issue.
“In the meantime. I am not in favour of holding some of our proponents hostage until this gets sorted out,” she said.
Councillors Jan Stick, Jeanine Myhre and the mayor voted in favour of the proposal.
Councillors Graham, Dave Stockdale and Florence Roberts were opposed.
As a result of the tie, the application was rejected.