Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for January 8, 2013

Need for Porter Creek D has diminished

The proposed Porter Creek D residential area could be off the table ­– at least for the time being.

By Stephanie Waddell on January 8, 2013 at 4:03 pm

photo

Photo by Whitehorse Star

Pictured Above: KAREN BALTGAILIS, JOHN CARNEY and MIKE ELLIS

The proposed Porter Creek D residential area could be off the table ­– at least for the time being.

City administration is proposing that council vote next week to cancel the contract to Golder Associates for Porter Creek D planning and delay any such work on Porter Creek D until the new Whistle Bend subdivision is at the 75 per cent build-out point.

The recommendation comes after a December public meeting where there was clear opposition to building homes in the middle McIntyre Creek area.

That meeting saw council chambers packed with many people opposed to the development. Twenty publicly addressed council about their opposition, with many saying they want the greenspace in the area retained or used as endowment lands for Yukon College.

At last night’s meeting, senior planner Mike Ellis noted there’s been a number of changes since the $400,000 contract to Golder was awarded last year.

The city has spent approximately $165,000 on the planning, with the money coming out of a contribution agreement with the Yukon government. Of that, approximately $101,000 has been spent on the consultant work.

A new council was elected last October.

A traffic study has confirmed that a road linking the area with Whistle Bend is not needed, and there was unprecedented growth in private housing developments in 2012.

“No one had envisioned this,” Ellis said of the private housing developments that are typically more dense than other previous developments in the past, springing up over the past year.

That means there’s not as great a need for new subdivisions to be planned as quickly.

The recommendation brought forward last night was one of four options presented to council on the future of Porter Creek D.

The first would have seen the city simply continue with the work and see a charette held in the coming weeks to help develop a concept for the area.

“This option would result in a fully planned and engineered design for Porter Creek D that would be ready for when implementation is needed,” it was noted in Ellis’ report to council.

“This would reduce the likelihood of a future lot shortage as development of Porter Creek D could likely then be completed in two construction seasons. However, development of a fully completed lot plan and required engineering is costly and may become stale if it is not constructed until Whistle Bend is completed.”

That could mean waiting up to 10 years to get to the development phase.

The second option put forward would see the city amend the contract with Golder to coming up with a master plan for the area and delaying the more detailed planning work until Whistle Bend is at 75 per cent build-out.

“The option to complete only a master plan for Porter Creek D would allow for some certainty over what the development would look like at a reduced cost and scope,” notes the report.

“This would allow for council to make a decision on whether this project should move forward or now, based on all the information to date, as well as a design concept.”

It would also help determine where a water main for Whistle Bend would be located as well as a paved trail connecting Porter Creek and Takhini North.

Going ahead with that plan, though, would mean having to update the master plan once it’s implemented in order to respond to housing demands at the time.

The other option would see the city cancel Golder’s contract and take the area out of the municipal growth strategy.

“Work to find alternative housing areas would need to occur,” it’s noted. “A new analysis of potential housing locations would need to occur as part of a future OCP (Official Community Plan) review.”

The option proposed by city staff would see the city consider Porter Creek D once Whistle Bend is 75 per cent built-out, estimated to be in eight to 10 years, Ellis explained.

That wouldn’t necessarily commit the city to moving ahead with Porter Creek D at that point, but rather “penciling it in” for consideration, Ellis said.

The water main for Whistle Bend and the proposed trail would happen as separate short-term projects.

“In this option, in order to ensure adequate land is available for housing development, the city should proceed with also examining possibilities for housing development in OCP-designated Future Planning areas outside of the Urban Containment Boundary,” the report states.

“The two areas identified so far are the McLean Creek/Lobird area and the Long Lake Road area.

“Administration may need to investigate other areas to accommodate growth as well. It is anticipated that a new OCP would likely be drafted prior to Porter Creek D planning, so this would provide an opportunity to re-examine housing locations as well.”

But Karen Baltgailis, the Yukon Conservation Society’s (YCS’s) executive director, was critical of the proposal.

“(It) looks a bit like one of those omnibus bills,” she said in a presentation at last night’s meeting, pointing to the potential plans for Long Lake and McLean Creek.

She noted that ideally, the city would instead start planning a park for the area.

With that suggestion not one of the options before council, though, Baltgailis said completely cancelling the contract with Golder and taking the area out of the Whitehorse Growth Strategy would be the preferred option of those before council.

It’s the only way to regain the public trust following the significant controversy over the proposed development.

Later in the meeting, Coun. Dave Stockdale wondered why the park-planning option wasn’t included in the list of options brought to council.

As Ellis explained, that was thought to be better as a separate matter to be dealt with by council in the future.

The YCS has been among the more vocal opponents to the Porter Creek development, arguing the greenspace needs to be preserved.

Coun. Kirk Cameron asked Baltgailis where the city should focus potential housing development after Whistle Bend.

Baltgailis said there’s a need to look at all the options coming online now, ranging from developments proposed on First Nations land, private developments such as the tank farm and others. Also needing consideration is where green space fits into those proposals.

Also addressing council later in the meeting last night was John Carney. He suggested the public wants to have a discussion about what should happen in the middle McIntyre Creek area.

He encouraged council to carefully consider each of the options before voting next week.

Council will vote on the future of Porter Creek D next Monday.

CommentsAdd a comment

Wayne

Jan 9, 2013 at 6:54 am

I would like to know who has the ear of CoW’s non-elected administration.  Having overstuffed every last green space in PC with people, PC-D gets mothballed.  The same happened in R’dale when the CoW wanted to fill up some of their green space.  That idea just quietly went away.

Atom

Jan 9, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Another good waste of YG money so nothing can happen where the nimby’s live.

Can’t wait for the gasping when they look to develop somewhere else, more money for nothing.

The good people of Whitehorse, ensuring housing market inflation until the end of time….

Dustin

Jan 9, 2013 at 7:03 pm

NIMBYism at it’s finest…

I would really like to know where miss Baltgailis would like all the people that need housing to go.

The only way to improve the housing shortage is to… wait for it… increase the housing available…

bobby bitman

Jan 10, 2013 at 4:35 pm

People, there is no shortage of lots.  I believe about 20 of the 75 available lots in Whistle Bend have been sold.  Surprise, surprise, there is no demand for these lots.  Why start ripping down trees to build more lots?

There may be a need for housing to some extent, but it seems to be that nobody wants to build rental housing (probably a reason for that), and the low income people can’t afford to buy a lot and build anyway.

50% of the people working in the Yukon mining industry are not Yukoners, they are not buying housing.  So do not look to our kabooming mining industry to create excessive demand for lots.

I think the reality is, housing prices are going down and people who bought over the past 4 years will have to wait a long time to see any market increases in the value of their homes.  They’ll be lucky not to lose equity.  And that is okay as housing should be a long term investment, not a short term gamble in speculation.

north_of_60

Jan 10, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Where are “all the people that need housing to go.”  ??

Wasteland Bend, of course.  That retro monument to 1960s American clear-cut subdivision design.
However when people are asked what they want, that’s not the answer they give.  At least ten people apply for every lot located by a green zone, and one might apply for every 10 lots in the wasteland subdivision.

Wasteland Bend will eventually become mostly social housing because only the government would want to live there or build there.

north_of_60

Jan 10, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Wanna bet that everyone opposed to PCD already lives on a green zone lot ?

Dustin

Jan 11, 2013 at 5:50 pm

My comments were more directed at the idea of putting the area known as Porter Creek D in some sort of environmental protection.

It has to be left for future development whether that is in 10 years or 30 years. The human population as a whole is constantly growing (didn’t we just have another peak in birth rates recently).  At some point some of those babies will move here (or stay here) and where will they live.

I do agree that we don’t necessarily need it now but when we do need it, it’s location will be quite a bit more convenient than having the traffic on the Riverdale bridge double by placing housing on long lake road or other wise.

Dustin

Jan 15, 2013 at 2:19 am

To whomever dislikes my comment please criticize it in open forum, what do you dislike about my opinion?

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