Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for December 10, 2013

Council OKs firm’s bid for caretaker suite

A large caretaker suite in an industrial area has received the go-ahead from city council.

By Stephanie Waddell on December 10, 2013 at 4:38 pm

A large caretaker suite in an industrial area has received the go-ahead from city council.

Monday evening’s approval came despite a recommendation from city staff to turn down the conditional use application.

Council members approved the permit for a 232 square metre suite.

They did so after vocalizing their support of ALX Exploration Services, which proposed the living unit inside their industrial building at 33 Levich Dr.

“We do advertise ourselves as a business-friendly community,” Coun. Betty Irwin said as she countered the staff report opposing the conditional use.

Caretaker suites up to 120 square metres are permitted as a secondary use in industrial areas.

Meanwhile, anything larger, up to 297 square metres, requires council to approve a conditional use application.

Officials with ALX had argued its caretaker suite was required to help the business, which provides 24/7 service to its clients, grow.

They also noted they’ve had difficulty in the past hiring employees due to the local housing market.

The two-bedroom suite is planned to be incorporated into the building that’s already there, and wouldn’t be taking up additional space on the property, they also told the city.

City staff argued ALX hadn’t shown a need for a larger caretaker suite and that it could result in an expectation for residential services to be provided in an industrial area.

ALX countered that just wasn’t the case, and pointed to nearby country residential subdivisions lacking services like garbage collection and transit.

They also pointed to area trails when the city brought up concerns about the lack of recreational pursuits in an industrial area.

Irwin stated her belief that the addition of this caretaker suite won’t mean an increase of residential buildings in the area.

Personally, she said, she favours people being able to live at their place of business or work.

Running a business is a 24-hour-a-day endeavour, Irwin added.

Being able to just head upstairs for dinner, then get back to work, is much easier than having to drive home and come back to work later.

It eliminates having to maintain two separate properties, Irwin noted. It also reduces the number of vehicle trips a business owner or operator has to make through the day, which is in keeping with the city’s sustainability plan.

For employees who live in a caretaker suite, it can be a perk of the job, she said.

Finally, Irwin argued her belief that whether living in a caretaker suite in an industrial area fits with a family’s lifestyle is a decision of that family and something they should be able to decide without the interference of their local government.

Coun. Kirk Cameron was the first to voice his support for the conditional use.

This is a case about adding to business in the city, he argued, and council has the opportunity to exercise judgment. In this situation, he said, an exemption should be given to permit the caretaker suite.

Other council members echoed that sentiment.

Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu argued the city hasn’t provided sufficiant rationale as to why the application should be denied.

Coun. John Streicker noted the size of the space is just 13 per cent of the total building footprint, and it isn’t likely to change the industrial character of the area.

Coun. Mike Gladish and Mayor Dan Curtis likewise voiced their support for the application.

They also came to city officials’ defence, stating it’s the staff’s job to make recommendations based on city policy – which is exactly what was done.

Council’s job in considering conditional use applications is to look at the individual circumstances, then decide if they warrant allowing the use, the two argued.

“We have the luxury (of allowing the conditional use),” Gladish said.

Curtis added that what ALX has put forth takes up only a small portion of the larger building.

He noted his thanks that ALX has chosen to invest in Whitehorse with its business and industrial building.

In this case, a conditional use is warranted, and the mayor said he “enthusiastically supports” the move.

Coun. Dave Stockdale was absent from last night’s council meeting.

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