Photo by Whitehorse Star
Photo by Whitehorse Star
City council will consider the rezoning of sites up for potential infill development on an individual basis.
Members instructed city staff at Monday’s council meeting to bring forward each vote of the zoning of sites individually – rather than having second and third readings for the areas coming forward en masse.
City planner Kindon Kosick presented a public hearing report on the proposed zoning that would allow for infill to proceed on a number of lots.
The changes would see:
• a 5.1-hectare parcel on Couch Road rezoned from Parks and Recreation (PR) to Country Residential 1(RC1);
• a 3.2-ha site on Talus Drive rezoned from PR, Greenbelt (PG) and Environmental Protection (PE) to RC1;
• a 2.03-ha area also on Talus Drive rezoned from PE to RC1;
• a 2.71-ha site on Fireweed Drive rezoned from PG to RC1;
• a 3.16-ha site also on Fireweed Drive rezoned also from PG to RC1;
• a 2.08-ha site on Salmon Trail from Future Planning (FP) to RC1; and
• a 0.38-ha site at Magpie Road and Falcon Drive from Neighbourhood Commercial (CN) to Residential Single Family (RS).
There are other areas around the city that are being considered for infill residential development that do not require rezoning.
Those sites are on Wann Road, Sandpiper Drive and Wilson Drive. Council is expected to consider those under a separate, future resolution.
The infill is proposed in an effort to create more lots to market as demand for housing continues to grow.
During the public hearing, council heard and received dozens of submissions primarily from residents of country residential neighbourhoods arguing against the proposed infilling.
Many residents of Mary Lake argued the plans for their neighbourhood, which would see some parks and recreation areas rezoned for country residential lots, fly in the face of city goals outlined in documents like the Official Community Plan (OCP) and the sustainability plan.
It would see many well-loved trails disappear for development.
Also highlighted by those speaking out against the proposal were concerns about the plans over the potential impact on wells, roads and the lifestyle in the neighbourhood that they have come to enjoy.
Outlining the results of online surveys about all of the proposed infill plans, Kosick noted there was support in that for infill in each neighbourhood.
Of the country residential areas:
• a total of 78 per cent were in favour and 22 per cent against the Hidden Valley plans;
• 75 per cent were in favour and 25 per cent against the plans for Whitehorse Copper;
• 62 per cent were in favour and 38 per cent against the proposal for Mary Lake; and
• 68 per cent were in favour and 32 per cent against the plans for Cowley Creek.
Meanwhile, looking at the urban areas where there are not the same zoning changes required:
• 72 per cent were in favour and 28 per cent against plans in Porter Creek;
• 74 per cent were in favour and 26 per cent against plans for Arkell;
• 65 per cent were in favour and 35 per cent against the proposed lots in Logan; and, finally;
• 78 per cent were in favour and 22 per cent against the plans in Granger.
Council members took issue with the survey, however. They questioned Kosick on exactly where responses came from and whether there was a scientific approach to gathering input.
Kosick acknowledged the survey – done through Survey Monkey – was not a scientific measure. Anyone accessing the questions online could respond regardless of where they live, he added.
Coun. Dan Boyd pointed out that means a number of those responding may not be directly impacted by infill in the neighbourhood.
Kosick also said the survey asked respondents what neighbourhoods they live in. Upon request, he said, he could provide council with a breakdown of where responses came from.
Kosick also confirmed that people could respond to the survey multiple times if they use a different device – say a computer, then a smart phone – each time. Only one survey could be done on each device.
The questionnaire’s purpose, he explained, was not to get statistically valid survey results, but rather “to gain further understanding to how the public feels.”
It was simply another way of gaining input, he said.
Along with questioning the survey, council members asked Kosick about residents’ claims that the infill plans don’t match up to city documents like the OCP and sustainability guidelines.
Suitable for housing
Kosick pointed out that from a mapping perspective, all the areas are suitable for housing.
He also argued if there’s no supply of country residential lots in the city, development could be pushed outside city limits. That, in turn, would mean vehicles on the roads for longer periods of time, creating more greenhouse gases.
“Providing additional housing where there is already a significant impact reduces the need to move into larger undisturbed wilderness areas further from the city core,” it was highlighted in his report to council.
“Adding additional lots where there are already existing roads increases the available tax revenue for maintenance of infrastructure.”
In recommending that council move ahead to second and third readings on the zoning, Kosick pointed out that many of the anxieties could likely be mitigated.
“Some concerns, such as loss of privacy in certain areas, may not be able to be mitigated,” he conceded.
“Retaining buffers and relocating trails may mitigate concerns of residents. There is still significant and public greenspace available to residents.
“The survey results suggest that the broader community is in favour of the development as proposed. These proposals take advantage of existing infrastructure and amenities without introducing significant new operations and maintenance cost to the city.
“There is no technical reasons that any of the sites could not be developed.”
The rezoning of each site will come forward for a vote by council next week.
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