Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

GRAVEL QUARRY BID SPURNED – Doug Gonder (left), the owner of Norcope Construction, and Lesley Cabott of Stantec engineering consultants appear before city council Monday evening to discuss the potential quarry in the Alaska Highway/Robert Service Way area. Seen in the background are some of the Norcope employees who watched council vote to reject the proposed project.

Quarry bid didn’t get a full airing: proponent

The city has turned down the plans for a proposed gravel quarry in the area of the Alaska Highway and Robert Service Way.

By Stephanie Waddell on January 16, 2018

The city has turned down the plans for a proposed gravel quarry in the area of the Alaska Highway and Robert Service Way.

At its meeting Monday evening, council unanimously defeated first reading of a proposed Official Community Plan (OCP) change for the quarry to move ahead.

Norcope Construction had proposed the OCP change.

Norcope owner Doug Gonder had brought the proposal forward in March 2017.

After concerns were raised, however, it was deferred, with Norcope bringing it back this year.

Gonder argued in a presentation at last night’s meeting that significant work has been done since then.

Those efforts have included a reduction in the quarry area from 21.5 hectares to 9.9 ha.

Norcope has also provided the city with drone footage and mapping of the site.

The Ta’an Kwäch’än council and Kwanlin Dün First Nation have indicated to the city they don’t support the OCP change.

Gonder, however, argued the city should at least permit the public input process that would occur after passing first reading, to happen.

“Opposition at this point should not defeat the process,” Gonder said. He highlighted the years of work that have gone into looking for and proposing a new gravel site.

“We’ve been looking for a gravel site since 1998,” Gonder said.

He acknowledged the potential access via Miles Canyon Road is heavily used by tourists.

However, Gonder also highlighted Norcope’s plans – if the quarry went ahead – to build a parking lot that would make it safer for all “at no cost to the city.”

There was also a new possibility of using the Utah Siding yard for access. Gonder said he would be looking at if the OCP amendment process went ahead.

Gonder emphasized the site would not be visible from the more public areas nearby.

He stressed he has provided the city with drone footage and images to show this.

Gonder was joined by about 20 Norcope staffers in the gallery. He emphasized the important role they play in Norcope’s work.

His presentation, however, was not enough to convince council to vote in favour of first reading.

Instead, council favoured the administrative recommendation to defeat the OCP change.

As it was summed up by staff: “If this proposal were to move forward, future development of the site beyond a quarry is likely unfeasible as the quarry floor would be a flat surface, but would be surrounded by high slopes with no provision for drainage.

“Both local First Nation governments have submitted letters stating that they do not support the proposed amendment, but would be open to discussion of gravel resources as part of the upcoming OCP review process.”

Following the meeting, Gonder told reporters he is “quite disappointed” in council’s decision.

The city didn’t give the project a full chance for due process, he argued.

Gonder pointed out that Norcope has been working with city staff for several years. It was the city, he said, who suggested Norcope consider this location for a quarry.

“What I find real puzzling is that you’re working between administration that’s working against you, while you paid your fee to go ahead and get your application started in the first place,” Gonder said.

“So we’ve expended a gigantic amount of cost and time to this point.”

There’s an obvious need for gravel, he said.

Every time a proposal comes forward that would supply aggregate in the city, he said, it seems to get turned down.

He indicated he may “try again” to convince the next city council – with an election slated for October of this year – to reconsider it in the future.

Comments (7)

Up 3 Down 0

north_of_60 on Jan 17, 2018 at 6:06 pm

Will Norcope be required to clean up the mess they made and reclaim the site to it's original condition? If not, then why not?

Up 3 Down 0

My Opinion on Jan 17, 2018 at 12:14 am

Expect a bunch of his equipment blocking some City Buildings. That is his MO. Thank You Mayor and Council.

Up 3 Down 1

'Wilderness City' lover on Jan 16, 2018 at 10:14 pm

My vote would have been in sync with members of city council. How does our beautiful Wilderness City look to anyone travelling along the highway? Too much business already! I'm happy to see this council has some guts. I'll remember this in October.

Up 3 Down 0

YT Resident on Jan 16, 2018 at 5:04 pm

The rock trucks must be in the shop for repair, so he brought the staff.

Up 3 Down 0

Hugh Mungus on Jan 16, 2018 at 3:22 pm

"Gonder emphasized the site would not be visible from the more public areas nearby."
You can literally see it from the Miles Canyon look off. One of the most photographed spots in the Yukon. Here's a picture.


Up 5 Down 0

a person on Jan 16, 2018 at 3:14 pm

Spending money and fighting to have the OCP changed because you want a big chunk of land in the middle of the city does not entitle a person to anything. It's your choice if you want to fight for changes to existing legislation so you get a valuable big freebie. Once in a while, the pushy do not get their way.

I am glad the City Council put an end to this.

Up 5 Down 0

Darrell Drugstore's smartest neighbour on Jan 16, 2018 at 3:13 pm

Much to my surprise City Council did the RIGHT thing - Gonder needs to find a different location

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