Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for February 27, 2014

Porter Creek town hall meeting draws about a dozen people

Infill weighed heavily on the minds of about a dozen residents who turned out for a town hall meeting at Jack Hulland Elementary School in Porter Creek Thursday night.

By Stephanie Waddell on February 27, 2014 at 4:17 pm

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

Mayor Dan Curtis

Infill weighed heavily on the minds of about a dozen residents who turned out for a town hall meeting at Jack Hulland Elementary School in Porter Creek Thursday night.

In an interview this morning, Mayor Dan Curtis said all but one of those at the session were from the immediate neighbourhood with the recent addition of residential properties in the area dominating much of the discussion.

Many residents – including both long-time and new-comers – noted their belief that while a variety of housing options and infill are needed in the city, Porter Creek has “had its fair share of densification in the neighbourhood and mayor and council should look elsewhere.”

Specifically, some took issue with a proposal for a property on 14th Avenue that would allow for a home set to be built there to include a suite. As many residents noted it was only a couple of years ago that the infill property was zoned for a single family home that wouldn’t allow a suite in order to address concerns of those with neighbouring properties.

First reading of the zoning passed Monday night, triggering a public hearing that will happen in March.

As Curtis said, the message he heard on the rezoning was “let’s have some consistency” and “hold the phone,” calling for council not to approve the change.

He explained to the residents that when such applications come forward, it’s the city’s general practice to let applicants have their “day in court” and proceed to the public debate on the matter, as it is doing in this case.

It is only after hearing from the public that council members start to form a more formal opinion and then vote on whether to allow the rezoning.

Curtis said he encouraged those who made comments last night about the rezoning to also let the city know their thoughts through the public hearing process with that set to happen at council’s March 10 meeting.

Others wanted to see the city work to maintain neighbourhood standards and better deal with properties that become derelict.

While Curtis said he often doesn’t know what to expect going into these meetings – with issues varying by neighbourhood and what is happening at the time – last night he was pleased to hear the city praised a number of times.

“It was wonderful to hear so many people complement (city staff),” he said, noting a few gave kudos to the snow-clearing efforts in the neighbourhood.

Others stated their appreciation for the winter lights displayed throughout downtown, including Shipyards Park over the festive season, stating they felt it added vitality to the community.

The Porter Creek Community Association was also represented at the meeting and after the public session Curtis said he and the association’s president, Jeff Marynowski, sat down and discussed more “high-level” initiatives underway to improve trails and other parts of the neighbourhood.

Discussions, Curtis said, were “overwhelmingly” respectful during the two-hour meeting, whether residents were expressing concerns or giving the city kudos for work that’s been done.

This marked the fourth of six scheduled town halls taking place in neighbourhoods around the city since last June.

Curtis said there isn’t one major issue coming forward at any of the meetings and often the discussion will be guided by whatever is happening at the time.

One of the first meetings, he noted, was dominated by funding for the Mount Sima ski facility at a time when it was facing closure. And while that came up last night with one person stating what an asset it is to the community and others stating there needs to be a balance in funding recreational pursuits throughout the city, it is no longer the major topic of discussion, Curtis said.

The town hall in the downtown area occurred when the city was getting a heavy snowfall and much of that meeting saw residents take issue with the plowing – or lack thereof – of city streets. The mayor cited that as an example of how the timing of a meeting impacts the discussion.

Two more town halls are set: one for April 30 at Takhini Elementary School and another on June 4 at Elijah Smith Elementary School, both from 7:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.

While this will round out meetings aimed at each area of town, Curtis said he will continue to hold the meetings starting back again at “square one.” He expects the meetings will continue in this format until the end of council’s mandate in 2015.

The meetings serve as a good, informal, way for residents to let council know what concerns they have, he said.

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