Whitehorse Daily Star

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Kindon Kosick

Council questions pro-infill survey data

City council will consider the rezoning of sites up for potential infill development on an individual basis.

By Stephanie Waddell on November 7, 2017

City council will consider the rezoning of sites up for potential infill development on an individual basis.

Members instructed city staff at Monday’s council meeting to bring forward each vote of the zoning of sites individually – rather than having second and third readings for the areas coming forward en masse.

City planner Kindon Kosick presented a public hearing report on the proposed zoning that would allow for infill to proceed on a number of lots.

The changes would see:

• a 5.1-hectare parcel on Couch Road rezoned from Parks and Recreation (PR) to Country Residential 1(RC1);

• a 3.2-ha site on Talus Drive rezoned from PR, Greenbelt (PG) and Environmental Protection (PE) to RC1;

• a 2.03-ha area also on Talus Drive rezoned from PE to RC1;

• a 2.71-ha site on Fireweed Drive rezoned from PG to RC1;

• a 3.16-ha site also on Fireweed Drive rezoned also from PG to RC1;

• a 2.08-ha site on Salmon Trail from Future Planning (FP) to RC1; and

• a 0.38-ha site at Magpie Road and Falcon Drive from Neighbourhood Commercial (CN) to Residential Single Family (RS).

There are other areas around the city that are being considered for infill residential development that do not require rezoning.

Those sites are on Wann Road, Sandpiper Drive and Wilson Drive. Council is expected to consider those under a separate, future resolution.

The infill is proposed in an effort to create more lots to market as demand for housing continues to grow.

During the public hearing, council heard and received dozens of submissions primarily from residents of country residential neighbourhoods arguing against the proposed infilling.

Many residents of Mary Lake argued the plans for their neighbourhood, which would see some parks and recreation areas rezoned for country residential lots, fly in the face of city goals outlined in documents like the Official Community Plan (OCP) and the sustainability plan.

Trails disappear

It would see many well-loved trails disappear for development.

Also highlighted by those speaking out against the proposal were concerns about the plans over the potential impact on wells, roads and the lifestyle in the neighbourhood that they have come to enjoy.

Outlining the results of online surveys about all of the proposed infill plans, Kosick noted there was support in that for infill in each neighbourhood.

Of the country residential areas:

• a total of 78 per cent were in favour and 22 per cent against the Hidden Valley plans;

• 75 per cent were in favour and 25 per cent against the plans for Whitehorse Copper;

• 62 per cent were in favour and 38 per cent against the proposal for Mary Lake; and

• 68 per cent were in favour and 32 per cent against the plans for Cowley Creek.

Meanwhile, looking at the urban areas where there are not the same zoning changes required:

• 72 per cent were in favour and 28 per cent against plans in Porter Creek;

• 74 per cent were in favour and 26 per cent against plans for Arkell;

• 65 per cent were in favour and 35 per cent against the proposed lots in Logan; and, finally;

• 78 per cent were in favour and 22 per cent against the plans in Granger.

Council members took issue with the survey, however. They questioned Kosick on exactly where responses came from and whether there was a scientific approach to gathering input.

Kosick acknowledged the survey – done through Survey Monkey – was not a scientific measure. Anyone accessing the questions online could respond regardless of where they live, he added.

Coun. Dan Boyd pointed out that means a number of those responding may not be directly impacted by infill in the neighbourhood.

Kosick also said the survey asked respondents what neighbourhoods they live in. Upon request, he said, he could provide council with a breakdown of where responses came from.

Kosick also confirmed that people could respond to the survey multiple times if they use a different device – say a computer, then a smart phone – each time. Only one survey could be done on each device.

The questionnaire’s purpose, he explained, was not to get statistically valid survey results, but rather “to gain further understanding to how the public feels.”

It was simply another way of gaining input, he said.

Along with questioning the survey, council members asked Kosick about residents’ claims that the infill plans don’t match up to city documents like the OCP and sustainability guidelines.

Suitable for housing

Kosick pointed out that from a mapping perspective, all the areas are suitable for housing.

He also argued if there’s no supply of country residential lots in the city, development could be pushed outside city limits. That, in turn, would mean vehicles on the roads for longer periods of time, creating more greenhouse gases.

“Providing additional housing where there is already a significant impact reduces the need to move into larger undisturbed wilderness areas further from the city core,” it was highlighted in his report to council.

“Adding additional lots where there are already existing roads increases the available tax revenue for maintenance of infrastructure.”

In recommending that council move ahead to second and third readings on the zoning, Kosick pointed out that many of the anxieties could likely be mitigated.

“Some concerns, such as loss of privacy in certain areas, may not be able to be mitigated,” he conceded.

“Retaining buffers and relocating trails may mitigate concerns of residents. There is still significant and public greenspace available to residents.

“The survey results suggest that the broader community is in favour of the development as proposed. These proposals take advantage of existing infrastructure and amenities without introducing significant new operations and maintenance cost to the city.

“There is no technical reasons that any of the sites could not be developed.”

The rezoning of each site will come forward for a vote by council next week.

Comments (17)

Up 10 Down 6

BnR on Nov 10, 2017 at 4:24 pm

Zoning gets changed all the time. I'd wager your CR area was zoned something else prior to becoming CR. Pretty weak argument.

Up 10 Down 5

salar on Nov 10, 2017 at 2:40 pm

Jaynew...Words on a piece of paper...they can be changed...evolve

Up 11 Down 7

Jayne W on Nov 9, 2017 at 5:22 pm

@Salar, some of the land in question is PROTECTED GREENSPACE, how is anyone to think it is anything else but. In the CR areas there are areas already zoned RC1, they are not using it. They are not doing a CURRENT Environmental Assessment 2004 for one and 1985 for another. I live in CR but I don't live next door to these areas that are slated for zoning changes, but I am certainly going to question every step the COW makes as it is going to set a precedent on the next round of infill they are going to be doing. Don't be surprised if it's not a huge area that is presently zoned Protected Greenbelt and you might even be enjoying the benefits of the future areas right now.

Up 11 Down 7

Wayne on Nov 9, 2017 at 4:22 pm

I have no sympathy. PC residents got no support when lobbying for less infill. Now that PC is a full-blown ghetto, fill in the rest of town at will.

Up 13 Down 2

ProScience Greenie on Nov 9, 2017 at 4:09 pm

So, why are we not building new rural residential sub-divisions as the demand is there? The land is actually not as scarce as we are led to believe so what is the big issue?

Up 15 Down 22

salar on Nov 9, 2017 at 11:37 am

Yes, let's not blame the planners - they are doing their job....a woeful job of dealing with all sorts of self interested and opinionated citizens who can't see beyond the land they don't own next to them.
Infill is inevitable...and NIMBY is the minority.
Open the lots....folks want them.

Up 19 Down 1

Groucho d'North on Nov 9, 2017 at 11:21 am

Anonymous surveys result in lop-sided results. Remember when all the opinions on the Peel Plan came down the pipe? It's too easy to stack an argument with social media and other communications tools that anybody can access and use to participate in a debate.

Up 19 Down 17

BnR on Nov 9, 2017 at 6:33 am

Gosh, I don't remember any of the anti-infill folks protesting when the CofW decided to put in these subdivisions originally.
But now, oh the trails, green house gas, the trees!
I'm betting a bunch of you haven't even been up here that many years, and yes, your moving up here has impacted MY quality of life and my enjoyment of the Yukon (more crowds, traffic etc) and yet I welcome you.
How about some pragmatism here? We're growing, it impacts us all in different ways. People want country residential. This is a rational way to accomplish it.

Up 29 Down 2

Jayne W on Nov 8, 2017 at 4:17 pm

I don't think I would be directing all the negative comments against Kinden, he is doing his job. As the lead planner on this incentive, I am sure he was told what to report, how to report the information and what spin to put on it. I am sure the Mayor is making sure the planner puppets are following a certain agenda.

Up 21 Down 2

Brian Langevin on Nov 8, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Interesting letter. Do you have any paperwork supporting this?
According to Mr. Kosick - and I quote
"These proposals take advantage of existing infrastructure and amenities without introducing significant new operations and maintenance cost to the city.

“There is no technical reasons that any of the sites could not be developed.” "

Mel, I support your concerns.
It is interesting that the City claims there are no technical issues in any of the areas.

Up 25 Down 2

Mel Needham on Nov 8, 2017 at 9:24 am

As a Hidden Valley resident whose properly backs on to Loganberry Lane, I'm aware of serious high water table issues affecting my neighbors living on both sides of the lane. This has been causing damage to driveways, yards and gardens, and structures.

The City has a plan to upgrade the ditch down there, then create an outflow into Takhini River. I'm not sure where they are at with this project, last time I was in contact with them (August) there were still no signed easement agreements with residents. Since there is no City water and sewer out here, everybody needs self-contained septic systems. Putting 4-5 new homes on Couch Road, with the resulting addition of more water into the water table, seems like a foolish plan until these pre-existing problems have been fixed.

I'm all for new houses as I'm well aware of the land shortage, but firmly believe this serious problem should be sorted out before any further development proceeds.

Yours Truly,

Mel Needham
Whitehorse, Yukon

Up 26 Down 4

Joe on Nov 8, 2017 at 8:44 am

First of all most if us never heard of or seen this "survey" now being used as validation of consultation. Why not try a door to door survey in the affected areas and see if you get positive results. Also, and more important, is that just a few years ago two Mt Sima residents subdivided their lots and then the City planners - same crowd running the show now- forced through a rezoning to prevent anyone else from subdividing. The rationale they used was exact opposite of the reasons they support now. You want more lots, ask if anyone in Mt Sima wants to subdivide their lots. Sign me up.

Up 23 Down 3

Just Say'in on Nov 8, 2017 at 1:10 am

@ Infil is More.

In Country Residential there are no savings due to existing infrastructure, we all supply our own at our expense and are then taxed based on the increased value of our property. Good deal eh! Want some of that?

Up 19 Down 6

Al Atlintino on Nov 7, 2017 at 8:05 pm

If people are concerned infilling will decrease their property values and reduce greenspaces and the areas used by wildlife, why not ask YESAB for a review even if it's not technically required due to the obscure trigger criteria.

Seems like city administration is not taking some of the concerns seriously.

Up 23 Down 4

Max Mack on Nov 7, 2017 at 5:07 pm

Voluntary online surveys are all the rage, mostly because they are cheap to do, but they are mostly garbage. I repeat; GARBAGE.
Funny how journalists think they are science advocates. Meanwhile, they breathlessly explain the latest results of some voluntary online survey or findings of some obviously biased think tank or research group.

Why is there no mention of the number of respondents to this survey? This kind of context is absolutely vital for understanding the relative importance of the percentages quoted in the article.
If you want meaningful survey results, you have to do a professional survey with objectively-minded folks who do this for a living. And even they get it seriously wrong from time to time.

Up 9 Down 27

Infill is more cost effective for City on Nov 7, 2017 at 4:11 pm

Infill brings in more revenues from the services in place so infill affects all rate payers in the City. So all rate payers should have a say on the infill.
Infill is just smart planning and the cost of services going up by 6% a year is not sustainable. Mayor will lead this council and community into a better place for all residents.
Wilf Carter

Up 31 Down 7

Dana Widden on Nov 7, 2017 at 3:35 pm

This whole process of requesting public input has and continues to be a joke.
Why mess around, bring in the bulldozers and get on with it. The survey monkey survey certainly does not reflect the views of those that turned out at the City hall to express their views.
Something wrong somewhere in the process - and my guess it is with the results from the online survey. Very easy to hide behind a keyboard computer. By the way, I did the survey 5 times from the same computer. All you need to do is clear the cookies from your browser.

"Kosick pointed out that from a mapping perspective, all the areas are suitable for housing." Just what does that mean?
Of course all areas are in the valley so they are flat and you can build on them. Since when is mapping a criteria? I didn't see that question in the survey monkey survey. What he should be saying is that very few of the areas are in compliance with the OCP. Don't give me this greenhouse gas crap either. Knocking down trees in greenbelt and protected areas has far greater consequences towards greenhouse gasses than a couple of vehicles on the highway.

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