Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for January 22, 2013

‘People feel they’re being railroaded into a development’

After dropping planning work for Porter Creek D, city planners are picking up their pencils again and may soon set their long-term sights on the areas of McLean Creek and along Long Lake.

By Stephanie Waddell on January 22, 2013 at 4:12 pm

photo

Photo by Whitehorse Star

Pictured above: MIKE ELLIS and KAREN BALTGAILIS

After dropping planning work for Porter Creek D, city planners are picking up their pencils again and may soon set their long-term sights on the areas of McLean Creek and along Long Lake.

At Monday evening’s city council meeting, senior planner Mike Ellis brought forward a recommendation that council sign off on two $300,000 contribution agreements with the Yukon government.

The agreements would see city planners look at the possibility of one day putting housing in the two areas.

Throughout his presentation, Ellis stressed the work would not cement any housing plans for the areas, but do the background work to see if residential development is even possible.

“At this time, there is no information regarding the feasibility of residential development at these three locations,” it’s noted in Ellis’ report.

“All of these locations are mainly designated ‘future planning’ in the Official Community Plan, with the exception that development in any of them would not be contemplated until other properly designated areas have been developed first.

“The proposed contribution agreements would provide funds to complete the appropriate background research to determine even at a broad level, potential for housing development and examination of the potential consequences of future development.”

In the immediate future, Whistle Bend will serve as the site for new residential development with the second set of lots expected to go on sale later this year as planning for phases three to seven gets underway.

The city is also focusing on the downtown area in the short term.

Mike Gau, the city’s director of development services, noted it would be similar to work done in the 1990s on the background of Porter Creek’s lower bench, or Whistle Bend, as it’s now called.

That work didn’t contemplate types of housing nor what would go in there, but rather looked at whether development could even take place.

This would look at the same for McLean Creek and along Long Lake. South of Copper Ridge is contemplated as a site for long-term planning as well.

“This is very long-term stuff we’re looking at,” Ellis said.

He stressed the importance of being proactive in planning for the city’s future in exploring the potential development areas, as it can take many years to complete, and housing demand could increase again.

While development may or may not happen, city council members couldn’t help but express some concern it could find itself in the same situation it did with Porter Creek D.

The planning for that – which was much further along – was dropped last week. That happened amid substantial public concern around developing in middle McIntyre Creek as well as there being less demand for housing.

Coun. Kirk Cameron noted his worry of environmental issues taking over the discussion. He noted the importance of balanced consideration for environmental and social and economic impacts.

Meanwhile, Coun. John Streicker stressed that a first look at the areas does not commit the city to developing them. Rather, he suggested, it would give a sense of the potential there.

He then questioned whether there are any creeks that run through the areas affected – noting creeks are well-known as wildlife corridors – with Ellis noting that the McLean Creek site is near the creek’s border with Croucher Creek near the Long Lake site.

Karen Baltgailis, the Yukon Conservation Society’s executive director, argued this morning the city should be consulting with residents to find out whether they even support development in those areas before spending $600,000 on studies.

There’s a danger of the same thing happening as occurred with Porter Creek D, she added.

“People feel they’re being railroaded into a development,” she said, emphasizing the important wildlife and recreational values of both the McLean Creek and Long Lake areas.

It’s amazing the city is even considering the Long Lake area, Baltgailis noted.

It would cost millions of dollars to build a bridge there, she said.

Croucher Creek, she noted, is a salmon-bearing waterway.

As well, the area is known as a caribou habitat, and there’s at least one trapline in the vicinity.

Long Lake itself, Baltgailis pointed out, is one of the few areas in the city used by many for swimming.

Meanwhile, at McLean Creek, nearby residents of McLean Lake have already been vocally opposed to quarrying and concrete batch operations.

Baltgailis suggested the city would save a lot of money by going through a consultation process first to determine whether people even want development there.

The conservation society, she commented, would be happy to design and be part of that process, which wouldn’t cost anywhere near $600,000.

Council will vote on whether to sign off on the agreements next week.

CommentsAdd a comment

M. Fenton

Jan 22, 2013 at 5:37 pm

I honestly had support for Baltgailis and the conservation society.  But unfortunetly they are becoming much as there name implies “conservative” and very afraid of change.  The fact that she so vigorously opposed a background report tells me she is just parroting her points about macintyre creek.  This seems like a political tactic from the worst of our political parties.  Sticking to one position and not moving at all to accommodate others that may think differently then them. 
From a young age most are taught to give a little to get a little.  Some maybe don’t learn that lesson and feel the world should bend to their will.  Left and right wing both have them and they do a disservice to both groups.  I desperately hope the conservative society starts looking at actually working with the community it says it represents and realize that people need places to live, the city must grow, and that repeating the same militant position for different circumstances makes them lose supporters.

stan rogers

Jan 22, 2013 at 8:10 pm

It seems to me that city residents have had very justifiable reasons for opposing housing development in some sensitive areas.
Why not ask the public via e-mail etc what areas they suggest should be the focus of studies for future development.

Dustin

Jan 23, 2013 at 1:24 am

I want to see a map that the conservation society comes up with on it’s own that would outline areas they would support development in.

That said I bet it would look very empty of development potential…

They don’t support condensed development of the city (Porter creek D would be what I’d call condensed as it is well within city limits), and they also don’t support spreading out development (Mclean lake and Long lake…)

Brice Carruthers

Jan 23, 2013 at 10:19 am

Whitehorse is a city.  A city is defined in the dictionary as a “relatively permanent and highly organized centre of population, of greater size or importance than a town or village”.  Successful cities are places of growth and vibrancy, not stagnation.  This means that most cities grow at a certain rate. The idea that Whitehorse can never grow and all present uninhabitated areas are off-limits to future habitation is just not feasible and it is not fair to new people that want to live in Whitehorse.  If people feel so strongly against development, then perhaps they ought to consider life in our many small rural communities that have not changed much in population over the last 40 years (e.g. Carcross, Teslin, Carmacks, etc.).

melba

Jan 23, 2013 at 10:30 am

Creeks are indeed well known as wildlife corridors.  As riparian zones, they are the most valuable portions of our ecosystem by far.  And yet we allow the placer gold mining industry to rip up creeks and grind them to rubble on a massive scale.  It would be very good for the Yukon to assess whether this is still appropriate, especially while the royalties on placer gold languish at 17 cents per ounce, one ten thousandth of the value of the gold itself.  Obviously people are concerned about environmental issues, the city is figuring that out though councilors like Kirk Cameron are none too happy about it, “Councilor Kirk Cameron noted his worry of environmental issues taking over the discussion”.  It is time for the Territorial Government to wake up and take the changing values in the Yukon to heart as well.

Sally

Jan 23, 2013 at 5:09 pm

I remember a group of residents and YCS insisting the McLean lake area was suited for residential development only when they were adamantly opposing a concrete batch plant in an existing rock quarry.  Suddenly, that area may not be suitable for residential development either now that development being looked at.

Around 190 hectares in that area is already designated a city park. There are houses already situated along the creek. Some of the residents have already said they would like to see future residential development in the area. Seems like a great location to look into the feasiblity of a subdivision. Close to an existing park, access to the trail system, close to existing subdivisions, the traffic circle by Lobird already contemplates rerouting McLean Lake road to Hamilton Boulevard. City utilities for existing and new homes would be great, given the ecoli that keeps showing up in government water sampling of the creek.

Of the three suggested areas, I think this one is prime for looking at.

north_of_60

Jan 23, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Don’t waste money on ‘studies’ which will be obsolete by the time Wasteland Bend is full.  Use our tax dollars for immediate needs.

north_of_60

Jan 23, 2013 at 8:44 pm

The amount of planning required at this time could be done by the City Planning Department.  That’s what they get paid to do.

tohmas

Jan 24, 2013 at 8:12 am

It just boggles the mind. You get the feeling conservation is being forced down your throat. If the City can’t develop within the City boundaries, where then?
This Conservation Society is ridiculously and feverishly representing conservation within the City, when there is disturbing developments happening throughout the wilds of the Yukon with the obtuse Mining industry.
The Conservation society needs to take a look at itself and what it stands for.

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