Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

DELIVERING THE FACTS – Jordan Stackhouse, the city’s economic development officer, addresses membes of city council Monday evening.

City retail, entertainment strategy unveiled

Work on parking availability, affordable housing initiatives, support for Buy Local campaigns and continued efforts with the Yukon government are all part of a proposed city plan focused on the retail and entertainment sectors in the downtown.

By Stephanie Waddell on November 23, 2016

Work on parking availability, affordable housing initiatives, support for Buy Local campaigns and continued efforts with the Yukon government are all part of a proposed city plan focused on the retail and entertainment sectors in the downtown.

Jordan Stackhouse, the city’s economic development officer, unveiled the latest version of the proposed 53-page Downtown Retail and Entertainment Strategy at council’s meeting Monday.

If adopted by council, the strategy would replace the 2006 retail strategy.

“While the 2006 report focused primarily on retail in the downtown core, the entertainment sector was added into the current study in order to gain a better understanding of the opportunities for support and development of the 2007 Downtown Plan,” Stackhouse said.

Both the retail and entertainment sectors in the city have gone through some major changes over the last decade, Stackhouse noted.

Given the changes, much of the work focused on getting an understanding of what the changes were and how they fit with the city’s Official Community Plan, which serves as an overall guiding document for the city.

“This work is related to economic development and planning, but also contains recommendations for other departments such as bylaw services, parks and community development and recreation and facility services,” Stackhouse said.

After gathering input on a draft of the strategy that was released last August, officials made alterations to the plan that’s now coming to council.

Among those changes are:

• more details on the history of parking and discussions around the possibility of a larger parkade;

• a new section that focuses on opportunities to move traffic off of the Alaska Highway into the city’s core; and

• a section on the city’s role in economic development.

Twenty recommendations are then outlined in the plan, under a few key topics.

Improvements to the streets are a key feature of a number of recommendations.

Among those would be:

• design guidelines developed in the Downtown Plan for Main Street along with streetscape improvements from Third Avenue and Jarvis Street north to Black Street; and

• new signage and enhanced cultural and historical interpretation along the waterfront.

Transportation to and in the downtown is also part of the recommendations.

Proposals focus on strategies:

• improving active transportation and connectivity in the downtown and north end;

• working with the territory to encourage government employees to use alternative modes of transportation;

• engaging with the territory to ensure upgrades to the Alaska Highway within the city meet the city’s own transportation objectives, improves the highway corridor’s aesthetics and facilitates city visits by those who travel the highway; and

• partnering with the Yukon Arts Centre on a pilot project that would encourage residents to dine downtown and use transit for major events happening at the arts centre.

For those not using alternative transportation or transit to get downtown, numerous measures to improve parking are listed as recommendations.

They include online payments and meter top-up options; investigating private sector interest in building a parkade downtown; and implementing a parking “amnesty” from 5:30 p.m. Friday to 10 a.m. Saturday.

Housing is also noted as playing a role. There are proposals to continue facilitating densification of the downtown area through zoning and development incentives and promoting and partnering on initiatives to promote affordable housing and end homelessness.

Also outlined in the report are improved communications on a number of fronts with local businesses; maintaining or increasing funding for parks, trails, beautification and so on; and helping to facilitate and encourage various events downtown.

While the report focuses on the retail and entertainment sectors, it was not lost on council members that it mirrors another document around resource development brought forward Monday night.

Affordable housing was highlighted as important for both, along with other initiatives.

“Some of it’s word for word,” Coun. Dan Boyd pointed out before asking that the costs of implementing the strategy be made known before council votes on it next week.

Mayor Dan Curtis, meanwhile, praised city staff for the work. He noted both documents highlight the need for certain measures like affordable housing.

Coun. Samson Hartland was absent from Monday’s meeting.

See related story.

Comments (9)

Up 0 Down 0

Buford Dingwell on Nov 29, 2016 at 9:16 pm

In regards to the story concerning the potential consolidated move of the city's MSB, who cares what an ex councillor has to say about it? That's why they're ex .
If councillor Fendrick wants to plagiarize part of Gladishes performance he'll have to make sure he attends that meeting.

Up 7 Down 0

Fed up Yukoner on Nov 29, 2016 at 10:58 am

Where are all these folks coming downtown going to park? Seriously, I drove down 5th and 6th a while ago and the roads were end to end parking, couldn't pass another vehicle coming at you in a few spots. Downtown is now condo central, maybe folks will take a stroll down main street when they are in town and the banks are on main streets so that gets people there but unfortunately there really is no need to go downtown. The time for planning for the downtown area has long passed any relevance and still contractors are asking for parking forgiveness, we have a real fluster cluck in the making in downtown Whitehorse. Invest in some parking before there is no area to create some large scale parkade but that probably won't happen cause you can't make big bucks on parking so let's build some more condos.

Up 5 Down 12

Sylvie on Nov 25, 2016 at 10:16 pm

If I may suggest to consider the concerns brought up by residents of Valleyview and Hillcrest during last fall forum about the widening of the highway when it will be time to work with the Territory about its widening. We do not want to isolate ourself between two big major arteries of traffic more than we are, in particular for Valleyview . Finding a safe way to bike or walk across the highway either at Sumanik Drive or at the cross of Two-Mile Hill is already a challenge.

Affordability for housing and initiatives that encourage those should be looked at. Our bylaws could use some more fresh perspectives. Lots is being done in other jurisdictions to promote affordable housing.

Also remember there are also cultural and tourism venues that reside along the Highway and away from the downtown core when it will come to encouraging different initiatives. Those need attention too!

Hope you take these in consideration.

Up 14 Down 1

Groucho d'North on Nov 25, 2016 at 11:45 am

Before this new project gets a head of steam and starts proposing new changes, perhaps it would be a good idea to evaluate the outcomes of the 2006 Retail Strategy. What worked & what didn't and what was a complete waste of time? Repeating the same errors over and over may work for governments, but it certainly doesn't for business operations that have to make their own revenue, and they can't go tsk tsk a year later and try it again with a new coat of paint on it. So far it looks like nothing more than smoke and mirrors to me, but it may have some value for bureaucrats trying to justify their positions.

Up 12 Down 4

Arn Anderson on Nov 25, 2016 at 9:13 am

"Coun. Samson Hartland was absent from Monday’s meeting."

Out of all the rehearsed garbage by Stackhouse, this quote is the most important. Absent again, something tells me he is eyeing up the Mayor's seat.

Up 18 Down 1

Bruce Henry on Nov 25, 2016 at 2:26 am

A check of the business licences will show that a full 80% of businesses in Whitehorse are not in the Downtown Core. Macrae, Sima, Alaska Hwy, Burns Rd, Porter Creek, Kulan, Mcdonald Rd, and how about Industrial Rd. and Copper Rd. areas. Not to mention the hundreds of home based businesses.

I think that a lot of these businesses that hire thousands of employees in high paying jobs in the trades and construction industries as well as Airlines and Helicopter companies may take exception to statements like diverting traffic down the hill.

This has been done before, it is pressure from the Main Street businesses who mostly hire at minimum wage.
Maybe consultation should be done with all businesses in Whitehorse and not just a select few at the expense of others.

Up 29 Down 1

Yawn on Nov 23, 2016 at 7:54 pm

Reading this list sounds like, blah,blah,blah,blah,blah,blah. It's the same tired old rehashed nothingness that's regurgitated every few years.

Up 23 Down 3

Phil on Nov 23, 2016 at 6:58 pm

I have seen Mr. Stackhouse popping into various social events around town for a free appy or two, however I don't know any of my business colleagues who have ever been contacted or engaged by this man on any level. One would think that his role should be expertise to the business community and he should be working to help business navigate all the hurdles thrown at them by the City. What a farce.....

Up 45 Down 5

Bud McGee on Nov 23, 2016 at 4:38 pm

We pay a guy to sit around and cut and paste these ideas off the Internet, and put them in a report? This is a complete waste of money. The City staff are career bureaucrats that have never run businesses or created a jobs in their lives. One of their councilors ran the dog shelter into the ground for Pete's sake! They have absolutely no idea about how to attract businesses. I don't exactly see outside franchise or businesses stampeding to set up shop in Whitehorse.
Have you seen all the rules, regulations, and municipal code BS you have to go through these days to build a home? No wonder housing is expensive up here! Council needs to shed the dead weight, and get a few members with some private sector expertise.

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