Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Photo Submitted

THE LOOK FOR THE FUTURE? – Shown above are the various facets laid out in the land use concept for the Copper Ridge Development Area Master Plan. Photo courtesy of CITY OF WHITEHORSE

Copper Ridge plan sent back for more clarity

Instead of approving the Copper Ridge Development Area Master Plan, city councillors have decided to refer it back to administration for a bit more work.

By Nancy Campbell on March 28, 2024

Instead of approving the Copper Ridge Development Area Master Plan, city councillors have decided to refer it back to administration for a bit more work.

Two issues were raised during their meeting Monday night:

How would plans for low- and medium-density development work with the proposed housing rules that would allow up to four units on a single-family lot?

How can the master plan ensure sufficient greenbelt behind Copper Ridge Place?

City staff said it would be about a month before an updated master plan makes its way back to council for review and approval.

Public comment on the draft master plan earlier this year raised concerns about the loss of greenspace, increased traffic, residential density, and lack of community gathering spaces.

Planning for the 6.6-hectare development area began in early 2023.

Currently undeveloped, it is bounded by Copper Ridge Place, Diamond Way, Falcon Way and the backyards of houses on Tigereye Crescent.

A school was originally planned for a 3.9-ha parcel, in the middle, but the Yukon government says it is no longer required.

On Monday, several councillors quizzed city staff on how to resolve the conflict between the master plan and the new Zoning Bylaw rules for housing density now under review.

“I have a process concern, with four-plex rules overriding the master plan, so that the final product would be different from what the public engagement dealt with,” said Coun. Ted Laking.

Several councillors wanted clarification on how the master plan would be affected.

The existing infrastructure in the area can support up to 103 units, said Mike Gau, the city’s development services director, noting the water supply network and fire flow are the main constraints.

“When the zoning request comes forward in the future, at that time a density limit could be attached to the area,” he said.

“Or there could be a development agreement so that when the parcel is subdivided, future owners are aware there is a density limit for that development.”

He stressed that the capacity limit will have to be taken into consideration by the private sector developer(s).

Laking also wanted to find a way to ensure there would be a large enough greenbelt between Copper Ridge Place and the new housing development, given the lessons learned from development next to Whistle Bend Place.

“We don’t want to unintentionally take away privacy and greenbelt spaces that are very beneficial to the care facility residents,” he said.

In supporting the call for the master plan to be referred back to administration, Coun. Kirk Cameron it would allow “administration to help us connect all these moving parts.”

Mayor Laura Cabott was interested in seeing the master plan approved right away, since “we’ve had lots of engagement with the public.”

But she too wanted clarity on what options council would have to put a cap on density if the master plan went ahead as-is.

During the March 18 standing committee meeting, councillors noted how the Copper Ridge Development Area supports the city’s efforts to provide a mix of housing stock.

Senior planner Matthew Marois told councillors before rezoning for development took place, there would need to be a transportation impact study, a preliminary engineering assessment, and a housing pro-forma study to see how many and which types of housing would be appropriate.

The loss of land for a school was flagged by Laking.

“We’re looking at putting a new subdivision into that end of town in the next decade; what went into (the Yukon government’s) thinking to switch the use from education reserve to residential? What rigour went into that determination?”

Cabott noted that some people do not want the area developed at all.

“If we didn’t develop this, how would it affect the city’s growth strategy, as set out in the Official Community Plan?” she asked.

Marois said the $11 million the city received through the housing accelerator fund might be affected if the city couldn’t deliver a specific number of units over the next three years, including infill developments such as the Copper Ridge Development Area.

The draft master plan can be accessed through the https://engagewhitehorse.ca website, along with a timeline, concept drawings, and other supporting documents.

Be the first to comment

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.