Aerial image of the Copper Ridge subdivision taken in 2011. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)

City of Whitehorse should listen to Copper Ridge residents on rezoning

John Stamp | Special to the News

At city council’s June 25 meeting, a proposed zoning amendment to 51 Keewenaw Dr. in Copper Ridge was approved by mayor and council by a vote of 5-1. Coun. Dan Boyd voted against the motion and Coun. Samson Hartland was absent.

This approval will result in the construction of a 10-unit rental development immediately adjacent to the Copper Ridge community playground at the corner of Keewenaw Drive and North Star Drive in the centre of an established family-oriented neighbourhood. Residents received less than 14 days’ notice to provide written submissions to council. Of the nine submissions, only one spoke in favour of the proposed change. A range of concerns were expressed, paramount among them the request for council to consult further with the community prior to making a final decision.

Up until to this change, this property has been zoned neighbourhood commercial within Whitehorse’s Official Community Plan. Residents recognised that it may have been challenging to develop this property for commercial purposes and understood the proponent’s desire to have the zoning changed. We welcomed new housing built for private sale, even with a modest increase in density included.

However, the imposition of higher density rental housing in the heart of Copper Ridge is not compatible with the present fabric of the neighbourhood and is inconsistent with the views of homeowners.

I expect that we are not the only Whitehorse neighbourhood that has experienced this degree of anti-democratic behavior by mayor and council. It appears that city politicians and administrators only desire token public participation. When — as in this instance — a substantive degree of citizen engagement emerges, they choose to ignore it.

I leave it to others to speculate on why Mayor Dan Curtis and his compliant fellow council members were in such a rush to ram through this zoning amendment rather than adopting our civic-minded request for a more fulsome and effective public conversation on an issue with true potential to adversely affect local families.

I expect that Curtis and other members of council will accuse us of NIMBYism and hide behind the contention that they were elected to make difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions. I think that both assertions cheapen our democratic institutions and fail to recognise that truly listening to citizens must be a core ongoing responsibility of elected office.

We all benefit when our political leaders strive to bridge differences and bring creativity to bear when crafting solutions. Other than attempts by Boyd, I saw neither of these in evidence over the course of observing council address and respond to our concerns.

I strongly urge all residents to critically appraise the performance of the current group of city politicians when casting their ballot in this fall’s municipal election. Whitehorse needs people in local government who will demonstrate an unwavering commitment to actively listening to the views of citizens throughout the electoral cycle. I look forward to joining others in supporting individuals who come forward expressing a similar vision.

John Stamp is a resident of Copper Ridge.

NIMBYismurban planningWhitehorse city councilzoning

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your furnace and your truck need to go

Perhaps the biggest commitment in the NDP deal with the Liberals was boosting the Yukon’s climate target

Awaken Festival organizers Meredith Pritchard, Colin Wolf, Martin Nishikawa inside the Old Firehall in Whitehorse on May 11. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Performing arts fest plans to awaken artistic talent in Whitehorse and the rural North

‘A value of ours is to make theatre as accessible as possible.’

April Mikkelsen tosses a disc during a ladies only disc golf tournament at Solstice DiscGolfPark on May 8. John Tonin/Yukon News
Yukon sees its first-ever women’s disc golf tournament

The Professional Disc Golf Assocation had a global women’s event last weekend. In the Yukon, a women’s only tournament was held for the first time ever.

Dave Blottner, executive director at the Whitehorse Food Bank, said the food bank upped its services because of the pandemic. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Food Bank sees Yukoners’ generosity firsthand

“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open.”

A prescribed burn is seen from the lookout at Range Road and Whistle Bend Way in Whitehorse May 12. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Editorial: Are you ready for a forest fire?

Citizens for a Firesmart Whitehorse have listed some steps for Yukoners to boost safety and awareness

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Most Read