Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

ZONING AMENDMENT PURSUED – Les Wilson (left), the business development project manager with Chu Níikwän Corp., and Ron Daub, the chief executive officer with the Vuntut Gwitchin Limited Partnership, explain their waterfront development proposal during Monday evening’s city council meeting. Right: Joe Sparling

Hotel complex proponents want height limit raised

A proposed development along the waterfront near the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre would be good news for the territory’s tourism sector and the economy.

By Stephanie Waddell on September 11, 2018

A proposed development along the waterfront near the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre would be good news for the territory’s tourism sector and the economy.

It would also be built in a way that would continue to provide for local access to the trail running along the Yukon River downtown.

Those were among the arguments presented during a public hearing at Monday evening’s city council meeting.

The statements favoured a zoning amendment that would relax the maximum allowable height at 1181 and 1191 Front St.

Officials with the River’s Edge Partnership are asking the city to allow for a 20-metre height limit rather than the current limits of 15 m for the front of the street and 12.5 m for sections along the waterfront.

The project’s proponents are the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s Chu Níikwän Corp. and the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation’s Vuntut Gwitchin Limited Partnership.

They want to move forward with a 19-m, five-storey hotel planned to have “at least one additional” 13.5-m, 3 1/2-storey mixed-use building at the site.

As it’s proposed – with the relaxed height limit – the hotel would feature 100 rooms with a restaurant on the ground floor and underground parking.

Les Wilson, the business development project manager with Chu Níikwän, told council during the public hearing officials are currently working on their due diligence for the project.

The zoning amendment being sought could be a deciding factor in whether it goes ahead.

“It is a key piece of the puzzle,” Wilson said.

He stressed the intention to incorporate a strong Indigenous design and integrate the development with the trail.

The plan would see structures built perpendicular to the river to ensure there’s little impact to the trail, which residents could continue to access.

Ron Daub is the chief executive officer with the Vuntut Gwitchin Limited Partnership.

Under questioning from Coun. Dan Boyd, Daub noted that while the hotel is proposed at five storeys and needs the relaxation to the height restriction, other parts of the development don’t.

Part of the need for the 20-m height is to accommodate the proposed underground parking.

Coun. Betty Irwin expressed concerns around the loss of access to the trail.

Without the zoning change, Daub responded, the company would have to build a wider structure that might not be perpendicular to river.

Wilson and Daub stressed the positive partnership efforts and the benefits that the project could bring to the territory, noting a final investment decision will be made this fall.

Also speaking in favour of the proposal at Monday’s public hearing was Air North president Joe Sparling. He highlighted the Vuntut Limited Partnership’s involvement as a major shareholder in the airline.

Vuntut has been a great partner for the company, Sparling commented. The proposed hotel marks a major step forward for both First Nation development corporations partnering on the venture, he added.

Sparling said he hopes the development will not only benefit the corporations, but all of the Yukon.

There was no vocal opposition to the proposal.

Valerie Braga, the city’s manager of corporate services, told council that a number of written submissions also came in. Seven express opposition to the requested zoning change, while another nine state support.

A report on the public hearing will come forward to council next week, with second and third readings coming forward Sept. 24.

Comments (18)

Up 0 Down 0

Josey Wales on Sep 18, 2018 at 6:48 am

Hey Max...I appreciate and recognize your sarcasm, however it is near a complete and accurate translation from the fools in our deep states mission statement.
So much is corrupt up here, now we are subjected to equity contracting...often misunderstood as progress.
“Often misunderstood” the catch phrase on today’s Yukon.
....coming from a “often misunderstood” freethinking citizen, in a country “often misunderstood” as a first world containing freedoms and opportunity for all.
Equity is “often misunderstood” to mean assurances of outcomes Vs. opportunity.
Seems also Canada is “often misunderstood “ to be on Turtle Island.
Turtle Island had no wall, no tangible border or security of said never there border....perhaps it should have?
Then the cultural elites could be living harmoniously gleefully with each other...as they are “often misunderstood” to have done.
...enjoy the generic town and all the shade it brings.
Formality....the new rubber stamp is here, as the one bought two years back is plain wore out with all this engineered inclusion and wealth redistribution in classic “striving for perfection” CoW style that has been engineered rabidly as of late.

Up 0 Down 2

Wilf carter on Sep 17, 2018 at 3:55 pm

As a candidate for mayor this a tough one. Damn if you do damn if you don't.
I think we have to look at this from a social economic point of view. Whitehorse downtown is changing so we keep the past or move into a new future.
I have discussed this with new and long time Yukoners.

Up 5 Down 0

Scott Etches on Sep 16, 2018 at 2:03 pm

Any decision on this amendment would more than likely become part of the upcoming revisions to the OCP. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The decision for the citizens of Whitehorse is if they want to be a wilderness city that sprawls onto the land or or one that contains the impact of development onto existing, "paid for", infrastructure.

Up 15 Down 7

Max Mack on Sep 15, 2018 at 4:23 pm

Sure. Let's block sight-lines of the river. Let's block out the sun. Densify at all costs. Make sure citizens feel like they live in Toronto or Vancouver. Give first nations firms preferential treatment.

/sarc off

Up 19 Down 1

Hugh Mungus on Sep 14, 2018 at 1:53 pm

@ Irwin M. Fletcher
There has been underground parking for decades at the (old) Regina, the Law courts and the Federal building and recently Mah's point. None of them flood.

Up 50 Down 8

Groucho d'North on Sep 13, 2018 at 10:20 am

All the concern for building asthetics seems a bit misplaced to me. All this debate over the skyline of this city built from a mix of styles dating back to the log-cabin era of the Gold Rush. I'd much rather see some effort and legitimate concern for what is viewed on our streets and in our parks by both residents and visitors alike. When visitors tell others about our town I doubt they spend much time describing the buildings and how high they are not. Rather they speak about the winos and pan-handlers and their fornicating down by the river, and other sights to be viewed from the Tourist Trolly.

Up 29 Down 24

Al on Sep 13, 2018 at 10:04 am

Absolutely and unequivocally NO !!!

Up 25 Down 15

Irwin M. Fletcher on Sep 12, 2018 at 7:15 pm

@ Charles - LOL - Underground parking on the riverfront. Free car wash with every stay!?!?

Up 26 Down 16

Ilove Parks on Sep 12, 2018 at 5:29 pm

Again, say no because this is all about profit for a few people. The permanent jobs created will be along the lines of jobs for the working poor.
Another example of ignoring the COP to allow some form of development.

Up 25 Down 12

Dave on Sep 12, 2018 at 4:26 pm

Taga Ku all over again?

Up 22 Down 49

Rick rux on Sep 12, 2018 at 4:16 pm

The First Nation land that we live on and they are asking permission. Sounds crazy to me. They should just do it and build that hotel. It’s their land !

Up 38 Down 17

Resident on Sep 12, 2018 at 1:44 pm

Height easements is the first step to a wall of buildings and a fenced-off waterfront. The project already wants to reroute the trail.
No buildings above two stories along the river and no construction on Grey Mountain. Two things that should remain sacrosanct for Whitehorse.

Up 38 Down 17

Mad Trapper of Riverdale on Sep 12, 2018 at 12:10 pm

1. Completely unfair to other groups who have followed the existing bylaws.
2. The height bylaw is there for a reason...we don't want Whitehorse full of tall buildings blocking the natural beauty of our city.
3. Dangerous precedent.

Absolutely ridiculous request!

Up 55 Down 21

Ancient Yukon Secret on Sep 12, 2018 at 10:51 am

Ask forgiveness not permission. Did these "professionals" not know how tall their building was going to be and what the restrictions are? Who plans a building that is too tall for the area? And then ask for the rules to be changed half way through the game. We don't need these kind of people in Yukon. Just look at all the celebrity gold miners!!

Up 41 Down 16

Charles on Sep 11, 2018 at 3:59 pm

The problem is such. Once you give permission to one, in this case Tippy Mah, you have a hard time to withhold it to somebody else. What's good for Jim is good for Joe. The city should just let them build it and set a new limit in the future to said 20 meters with the condition it has underground parking.

Up 44 Down 33

Hugh Mungus on Sep 11, 2018 at 3:58 pm

I say no to the high building.

Up 40 Down 35

Ilove Parks on Sep 11, 2018 at 3:27 pm

Please say no to this.

They can still make a profit with a smaller building.
They character of Whitehorse has changed so much and this proposal is another bad example.
Say no to ensure we have a better city.

Up 45 Down 35

ProScience Greenie on Sep 11, 2018 at 3:13 pm

Not much of a 'wilderness city' if buildings are made so high that they block off views of the mountains, hills, stars and northern lights. Just say no to this nonsense.

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