Zoning is now in place for two projects that stand to create at least 49 new homes in Whitehorse.
Whitehorse city council approved the final two readings on the zoning at its Nov. 14 meeting. It allows the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council (TKC) to plan housing on two sites.
“It was incredibly exciting,” TKC Chief Amanda Leas said in a Nov. 17 interview.
Leas said it will mark the first major housing projects for the First Nation on its settlement land.
As Leas said, when she ran for chief she wanted to work towards bringing citizens back to the First Nation’s land and this is a step towards that.
The largest site is a 2.1-hectare parcel on Birch Street in Porter Creek, which would see the development of 25 single family lots that could accommodate single-detached, mobile, duplex and triplex homes.
The 2.1-hectare site is part of a larger 4.35-hectare piece of settlement land with the remainder of the site to remain designated as future development.
On the other site — a one-hectare parcel on Witch Hazel Drive in Whistle Bend — the TKC is planning to add 24 townhouses.
The council votes followed public hearings where some concerns around the Birch Street plans, potential traffic, road design, the impact to neighbouring property values and safety were expressed. Opposition to rental properties and mobile homes was also noted.
A report to council addressing the concerns noted traffic considerations would be looked at during the detailed design phase of the project and that any concerns about the Yukon government’s plans for roads in the area should be at the territorial government as the rezoning is not impacted by the territory’s plans.
Speaking to crime and safety, city planner Mathieu Marois pointed out in the report: “There is no reason to believe that the proposed development would cause more crime than any other residential development in the city and is not considered to relate to this application to rezone the subject site.”
Similarly on the impact to property values, Marois said property values will not be impacted to any greater degree than other developments. He pointed out the site is designated as residential-urban in the city’s Official Community Plan and that the TKC has the right to manage its settlement land within OCP and zoning designations.
“Zoning regulations will ensure that the development is built to the same standards as other neighbourhoods or properties zoned [single residential],” he said.
The report pointed out the First Nation cannot sell its land and therefore the land will be leased, though the zoning bylaw doesn’t consider differences between rental and owned properties and thus the issue is not seen as relevant to a zoning amendment.
On allowing for mobile homes, the First Nation said it applied to have mobile homes added as a use so the option is available; though it doesn’t intend to place a mobile home on each site.
Leas said there’s a lot of excitement among citizens for the projects as the First Nation continues to hear positive feedback about the plans.
Natalie Leclerc, the First Nation’s land use planning coordinator, said subdivision on both sites is anticipated to be done in late 2022 or early 2023 with development on the ground to get underway next summer.
Both Leas and Leclerc emphasized the sites are planned to reflect the character of the communities they are in with occupancy anticipated for 2024.
While Whitehorse city council was unanimous in its support of both rezonings, Coun. Ted Laking again stressed the importance of dealing with traffic and future planning in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood continues to grow.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org