Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

OBJECTIONS RAISED – City council has heard a number of concerns about the Yukon Housing Corporation’s plans to build a four-storey apartment complex on this Jeckell Street site. They include a blockage of area residents’ river view, and lighting and parking issues. Inset Ken Bloor

Apartments plan carries problems, council told

A new apartment complex planned for Jeckell Street falls way outside good community planning, says a resident of the street.

By Chuck Tobin on July 5, 2019

A new apartment complex planned for Jeckell Street falls way outside good community planning, says a resident of the street.

Ken Bloor appeared before city council Tuesday evening to raise a number of objections about the Yukon Housing Corp. project.

The four-storey building proposed for the corner of Jeckell and Fourth Avenue would create another obstacle to block the view of the riverfront, said the 32-year resident of Jeckell Street, who owns his own home.

Bloor said it wouldn’t be much of an issue for him because of where his home is located a block away. It would be an issue for many who would suddenly fall into the shadows instead of having a view of the Yukon River and the winter sunrise, he told council.

The is not the type of community planning that was envisioned in the city’s Downtown South Master Plan that was developed in 2011, he reminded members of council.

Bloor said he attended all the public charrettes held to discuss the large vacant area in the south end of town when the plan was being developed. The intent was to build community vibrancy by mixing the housing types throughout the area, he recalled.

“At the city-held charrettes, I was led to understand the dynamics of the neighbourhood would be mixed, that the City of Whitehorse would trade land parcels with Yukon Housing to help create a diversity of housing styles and building neighbourhood dynamics,” he told council.

Bloor said he doesn’t see how concentrating more social housing right next to two other multi-housing units for mixed-income residents inspires community dynamics and empowers changes to lifestyles.

“I’m not against this proposal. I am against the location, height and size of a single large building created for high-density mixed-income housing and destroying the intention of the Downtown South Master Plan, also the lack of consultation for a project of this scale.”

During the Downtown South planning, concerns were expressed about placing taller buildings in front of lower structures, he told the council meeting.

“Nowhere in the brainstorming sessions did anyone suggest that it was a great idea to surround the Yukon River front with tall buildings blocking the line of view and access to the river and creating shadows to lower areas.”

The Yukon Housing Corp. has had one public meeting about the proposal, he pointed out, held on a recent weekday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Of the few people, who attended, most were housing corporation employees, he said.

He said they’re proposing to provide parking for 24, or half of the 48 units, with eight stalls for visitors. 

Who decides, he asked council, who gets parking?

Bloor said he also has concerns with light pollution. When the Yukon government built the adult group home at the end of Hoge Street, it came with an obnoxiously bright LED light the spilled over to neighbouring residences, though it has since been shrouded, he said.

The Yukon government’s Department of Health and Social Services built a group home where the Downtown plan identified a corridor for a connector road, he said.

“What happened to the Downtown South Master Plan?” Bloor asked council. “Are Yukon government, Yukon Housing Corp. and other government departments exempt from the Plan?”

The Star was unable to speak with a Yukon Housing Corp. representative this week.

Instead, the corporation responded to questions by email.

The building is estimated to cost $18.3 million, with construction scheduled to begin next spring.

Public consultation is designed to occur in two stages. The first stage was the noon-hour meeting held at the site on June 18. It was held at noon to provide a chance for working people to attend.

The next phase will be held in late summer or early fall.

“Our project has been approved and our plans to move ahead will be informed by the public engagements currently underway.”

The corporation said it does own the property, which it added is well-situated to provide community housing development in the downtown core.

The downtown plan is being used as a guiding document.

The proposal is for a mixed-use, mixed-income housing approach, and is the first of its kind for the housing corporation. It has worked well in other urban areas, the email said, and is designed to mitigate concerns over ghettoization.

The city requires one parking stall for every two units, the email said.

Comments (9)

Up 10 Down 0

Miles Emerson on Jul 9, 2019 at 2:08 pm

I am so glad that we live in a modern age and have an opportunity to ask mayor and council to make decisions that benefit us.
It's not Poland in 1940 and council at worst will take our river view away and ignore all their master plans.

They are not going to go into a full ghettoization and ship us off on a train for a final solution; it's funny though for it often feels like that when they ignore plan after plan to get what they want.

Up 20 Down 0

Michael Storm on Jul 8, 2019 at 6:19 pm

The city has the COP and many bylaws and they host charettes and have public meetings and surveys.
But what often happens is that staff and council forget they work for us and they then give things away to wealthy people and associations and special interest groups.

I wish council would visit an area of the world that shows them how to work for the people rather than taking things like river views away.

Up 17 Down 1

MrsHippy on Jul 8, 2019 at 3:31 pm

“concerns over ghettoization”. I didn’t know there was a term for what has happened on Azure in Crestview.

Up 18 Down 1

Oya on Jul 8, 2019 at 12:58 pm

Bad, bad, BAD location. Already enough social housing in that area. Thanks for asking those questions, Ken Bloor. We need to keep these governments accountable!

Up 34 Down 3

DK on Jul 7, 2019 at 11:24 pm

The property is not a good spot at all. I would like to know where everyone else is suppose to park. But they have 8 spaces for visitors? To heck with the visitors! The downtown is already an eyesore with all the government employees parked on all the avenues and side streets. Now they want to add to the parking problem? Honest to Pete! We have other areas in town that would better suit these rental units and have enough parking spaces. Use you heads people!

Up 29 Down 3

Charlie's Aunt on Jul 6, 2019 at 10:47 pm

Unfortunately it seems that in latter day Whitehorse it is a case of big bucks, buildings and buys big blocks- river front is crowded with them. Equally unfortunate is that what you bought with a view 'X' years ago, is not what you will end up with under current planning. Space could have been set aside for this type of project in WB & leave inner city lots for regular housing, but wait; those mini lots in WB, some only big enough for multi story, sell for big bucks.

Up 40 Down 6

Max Mack on Jul 5, 2019 at 11:33 pm

Good for Bloor for standing up to the tyrants in city hall.

Bloor's comments are further evidence that all planning done by the city is a facade. If the "right" people come along with the "right" money, city planners will move heaven and earth to make it happen. And the courts will let it happen.
So much for "democracy".

Up 36 Down 5

Champagne views at Coca-Cola prices on Jul 5, 2019 at 8:57 pm

Why is it in this city the waterfront views are left for either social or low cost housing. Yukon Housing could flip that property for high end residences which means more tax revenue. They could buy twice the property and build twice as many units. But instead all that’s available for regular home owners is whistle bend.

Up 54 Down 12

tnk on Jul 5, 2019 at 3:53 pm

I agree that the city does keep allowing companies to build the towns largest high rise apartments in front of the river and is blocking a nice view. it's what the town centers around and think all the apartments by spook creek are also now blocking views of the river and cliffs with their big blocky structures and could easily see residents who live in this area not enjoying being in the shadow of a large apartment.

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