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City pays mere lip service to comments: resident

City council and the city have received harsh criticism and a tongue-lashing from a local resident who says he’s fed up with how proposed amendments to the zoning bylaw are handled.

By Chuck Tobin on January 15, 2021

City council and the city have received harsh criticism and a tongue-lashing from a local resident who says he’s fed up with how proposed amendments to the zoning bylaw are handled.

Mike Martin accuses the city and council of paying lip service to the public comments received during the process to review applications for zoning amendments.

The city already has its mind made up, and comments received don’t mean spit to the outcome, insists Martin in the only submission received during the public hearing into another proposed zoning amendment. It would allow for an eight-unit apartment complex on Centennial Street.

Martin says it’s an insult to even hold a public hearing.

“I have been to three of these amendments now and there has always been an overwhelming majority against the severity of the changes, yet the changes always go through,” says his submission.

“This new amendment has already been accepted, and the fact that you are putting us through this procedure ... as I said is a total insult. You are just going through the motions.”

The proposed amendment would change the zoning from single-family residential to multi-family for lot 1308 located between 12th and 14th avenues, across from the former Porter Creek garden centre.

The proposal for the eight-unit apartment complex requires approval of the zoning amendment.

Council approved the same zoning amendment for the adjacent lot in 2019, allowing for the construction of a nine-unit apartment complex.

City administration conducts extensive reviews of rezoning applications to ensure they fit into the city’s goals and aspirations. Only then does administration bring forward the required bylaw.

Administration is recommending approval of the amendment, as it did for the property next door.

Council has established a priority to increase housing density and opportunities for more affordable housing units.

Martin says in his letter the proposed amendment is already a done deal.

Council members should not be surprised if they don’t receive many comments on rezoning the lot from single-family to multi-family, he writes, before knowing his was the only submission received.

“Please don’t take it as a sign that we accept the amendment proposal but it is rather a response to knowing the deal is already accepted and we have no say,” Martin writes.

“We know we are just wasting our time by writing comments.”

He says there was a time when he thought he might be able to make a difference by influencing the mayor and council to consider a more reasonable number of units for the proposed development, such as four instead of eight.

Not anymore, he writes.

Martin says council should be ashamed of giving people hope that they can make a difference where no hope exists.

The city is losing the charm he loved when he moved here 32 years ago, he says.

Martin says they’re now looking for a home outside city limits, though it’s difficult to find something suitable, but they’re looking – everyday.

City communications manager Myles Dolphin said this week the city does not typically comment on submissions received.

Comments (19)

Up 10 Down 1

Right on Jan 20, 2021 at 12:33 pm

Right. Anyone who has ever done business with the City knows about the lip service. The public is an eye rolling inconvenience to coffee breaks and lunchtime. How many City vehicles are used to do personal errands? I've seen City employees exiting grocery stores mid morning with a cartful of groceries, jump in their COW truck and off to...? the next job?

Up 4 Down 1

Klaus G. on Jan 20, 2021 at 12:29 am

And how would this be any different from say YEC and they're public consultation as demonstrated recently on the battery site? Or YEC consulting with the public on a water level permission that they already had a license to achieve but thought nothing of wasting thousands for shiny pamphlets on the pretense of public consultation. Rare is the public consultation that is really looking to consult.

Up 4 Down 4

Woodcutter on Jan 19, 2021 at 6:20 pm

Take a chill pill Martin, you think the local governments in these little burgs will even give you lip service when you're the new kid in town? They only have to do this cause of the municipal act, not because they care about your nimbyism. You all wanted progress, mines and industry, now that you see what it's done to the Yukon everyone blames government.

Up 4 Down 2

Charlie's Aunt on Jan 19, 2021 at 12:21 pm

@JSMonk; Average income in 1970 for a single person was $18,208? I think you are a few thousand over the top with that figure, or several years early unless you only counted the average of a few affluent folks you rubbed shoulders with. I considered myself to receive a good wage at that time. It was better than most, but not even half of your figure.

Up 6 Down 1

JSmonk on Jan 19, 2021 at 7:46 am

@anie Your math is way off. 50k in 1970 would be roughly 330k in 2020.
That is a 575 percent increase. The average income for a single person in 1970 was 18,208, Whilst the average income today is $55,806.40 which is an increase of only 200%. The disconnect comes from where Canadians are supposed to make up for the near 400% difference. Not trying to insult you but the context behind TS' comment is still valid regardless.

Up 13 Down 0

Been there done that on Jan 18, 2021 at 7:40 pm

City administration are the ones who actually steer this ship called Whitehorse. If you run afoul of them on a development application or question their decision making powers you might as well pack up your stuff and move out of the city. Even the councillors are scared to call them out if they are wrong. Trust me I tried. I have been told by councillors that although they agree there is no avenue for them to intervene. They have enough rules and regulations in place that if you don’t agree, they can effectively make your project financially and practically not worth doing. So absolutely there are certain individuals or groups that can sway city officials and a different set of rules for the masses. Consultation is just a formality. Much like voting on a street improvement LIC if you don’t vote no, it’s counted as a yes vote.

Up 8 Down 4

Anie on Jan 18, 2021 at 12:59 pm

TS that $50k you are talking about was roughly the cost to build a modest house in PC in 1970. That is roughly the equivalent of $450k in today's dollar. So what's your point?

Up 20 Down 7

Politico on Jan 17, 2021 at 8:35 pm

Do not forget that even if NIMBYs go to a meeting and object to a development COW may have to pass on the objections. Unless there is a really good reason to say no to a development saying no could get the city sued. Unfortunately I'm not aware of Mike's objections to this project. I have been a resident of PC for 15 years and have been amazed at the absolute contortions NIMBYs go through to complain about new developments. But I can safely say that the prostitutes and drug dealers have not taken over, the schools are not overrun, traffic is not an issue, the water and sewer systems seem to be working fine and school children do not seem traumatized driving by the crematorium in the school buses. Cheers.

Up 14 Down 10

Anton on Jan 17, 2021 at 5:39 pm

Josey for Mayor! Nobodies yes man.

Up 30 Down 2

BnR on Jan 17, 2021 at 12:58 pm

Who do THEY listen to?

Up 33 Down 8

CJ2 on Jan 16, 2021 at 8:13 pm

@Jess Toren, Mike Martin is not a "professional cry baby" and if you think criticizing the city or Yukon government publicly in this little territory is an easy road, I guess you've never done it. And questioning a few COVID restrictions really shouldn't be so shocking or unacceptable to people.

I agree with Mike, city council's public consultation process has become so pro forma, it's basically sterile. This council is an improvement on past councils in one respect, and that's that they aren't always unanimous, as went on for years.
They have developed a public input process that is so constrained and narrow, that it is very difficult to penetrate. So I believe that people have given up. Not letting people go in person for almost a year now doesn't help.

But you know, most of them don't even run on a platform that says anything about citizens. It's all about "my vision".

Up 20 Down 23

Jess toren on Jan 15, 2021 at 6:52 pm

Isn’t this the same guy who complained they wouldn’t let him into the states to look after his yacht? I think he may be a professional cry baby.

Up 39 Down 6

Nathan Living on Jan 15, 2021 at 3:39 pm

I agree with Mike on this one.

Council often ignores bylaws and zoning and the interests of the affected residents. And there is bullying by city staff which is ignored.
Many public meetings are there to fly the flag since the direction the city wants to have has already been set.

There is often a group or individuals who are given preferential treatment.
The council discussion is often a sham as Mike suggests.

Up 14 Down 28

Josey Wales on Jan 15, 2021 at 3:26 pm

Valid points made by Mr. Martin, tone deaf civic fools. (epic redundancy eh)
More accurately they run/ruin this "now" sty like Democrats do in the USofA...into the ground. They give not a s**t about anyone's hood but theirs, rules & regs to stymie the common folks, lip service for curtain dressing whilst they and their cronies pull the curtains shut.

Precisely why I call the PC bloviators, the collective junkies a.k.a. liberals...metric democrats.
Most communities devolve into Flint, Michigan. Crime, homeless and vagabonds loitering, drugs and lots, race baiting..in general?
Socialist engineering, the overlords never hear...they have their predetermined outcomes.
which leads me to another term, state actors. And acting indeed it all is.
they act..like we need them. We do not, they need us!

Up 77 Down 2

Max Mack on Jan 15, 2021 at 2:57 pm

This pretty much describes every consultation process engaged in by CoW or GY.

Consultation is simply a sham, nothing more than a PR ploy. The "basket of deplorables" have no real say in this new world of scripted and manicured consultations.

Up 57 Down 3

Olaf on Jan 15, 2021 at 2:28 pm

It is all about taxation. 8 x “x” is much more than 4 x “x”
That whole block will get condos before that new developer is done.

Up 11 Down 53

TS on Jan 15, 2021 at 2:25 pm

Crying NIMBY. Sorry most of us did not get in on the 50,000$ PC houses. Just move out of town.... you can afford it.

Up 55 Down 2

TMYK on Jan 15, 2021 at 2:15 pm

To my recollection the only City Councilors who has voted against these zoning amendments has been Hartland and Boyd. The Mayor and other Councilors have always voted in favor of builders taking advantage them.

Up 27 Down 30

Jason on Jan 15, 2021 at 2:15 pm

You're right, they are lip service, but it's legislated that they have to do it, so they'll continue to do it. Gotta think about the greater good too. If you couldn't build where a resident didn't want a infill lot or a condo then nothing would ever get built anywhere ... Just because 10 residents showed up and said they didn't like it, there's likely 100+ residents that are consulted on a given development.

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