Coun. Steve Roddick in Whitehorse on Jan. 13. Roddick opted to be the only vote against a zoning change for an 84-unit seniors housing development off Range Road during a council meeting on Feb. 10. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Zoning approved for seniors housing development

Roddick lone councillor to vote against third reading

The developer working on a 84-unit seniors housing development off Range Road says more detailed design work for the facility will soon get underway after Whitehorse city council voted 6-1 in favour of a zoning change for a boundary realignment allowing the plans to move forward at its Feb. 10 meeting.

Coun. Steve Roddick was the only one to vote against third reading of the rezoning.

“We’re very pleased,” David Borud, a director with KDC Developments, said in a Feb. 11 interview about the rezoning approval.

KDC is proposing a five-storey, 84-unit housing facility that would provide supported services to residents — meals, housekeeping, social activities and the like.

KDC had initially requested a boundary realignment and a zoning change that would reduce the parking requirements from one stall for every two units to one parking stall for every four units. If all 84 units planned were built that would have seen parking requirement decrease from 42 stalls to 21.

After a public hearing saw many neighbours speak out against the parking reduction, arguing it would push parking to nearby streets, KDC altered its plans to include underground parking for 38 vehicles along with 12 parking spots outside the building.

The proposed new parking plans now go above and beyond the required 42 spaces.

The developers “completely understand” the concerns of residents and worked to address those concerns with a new plan, Borud said.

He acknowledged the underground parking will add costs and about a month and a half to the construction schedule, though its still anticipated construction will be done within a 16 to 18 month window with the building expected to be finished in 2021.

Nearly all council members were quick to praise the new plans and voice support for the housing project.

The changes will address most of the concerns that were raised, Coun. Laura Cabott pointed out. She said it will also add supportive housing units along a transit route.

Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu said it’s a much-needed development in Whitehorse and the efforts to make changes show the developer is “very community-minded”.

Coun. Steve Roddick; however, opted to vote against the zoning change at third reading after initially raising his hand in favour at second reading.

He said he’s concerned that by allowing eight surface parking spots in back of the building, space could be lost for the future second phase of the project that’s planned.

He also argued the increased costs that will come from putting in underground parking would eventually be passed on to those renting units in the facility.

Clarifying his comments in a Feb. 10 email after the meeting, Roddick wrote: “I was encouraged and impressed by the strong engagement we received from Takhini residents, and I respect and agree with their concerns about Range Road safety. I felt that the developer was unfairly relying on public parking spaces to meet the private needs of their tenants, and do not support the reduction of parking requirements initially proposed.

“Seeing that the vote on the revised amendment would pass anyway, I felt that voting against the amendment was an opportunity to draw attention to the impact of minimum parking requirements on housing affordability. This obscure but important planning consideration has significant consequences for the city’s future development, and I hope that my vote tonight got more people thinking about it.”

Other council members acknowledged the concerns around parking and highlighted the importance of the city continuing to look at ways to reduce traffic and parking around the city, but said there are certain realities that have to be faced.

“The reality is people need vehicles to get places not accessible by bus,” Coun. Jan Stick said, adding many who may choose to get around town by bus or alternative transportation also have a vehicle for longer trips or to get around when buses aren’t running.

Borud said the additional surface parking now planned behind the Phase 1 building will likely impact Phase 2, which will add more independent adult living units to the area, but that will be addressed down the road during the design for Phase 2.

Right now, developers are focused on Phase 1 with a goal of breaking ground in early May.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Housing

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