The city has approved the first reading of the rezoning for two properties along the waterfront, that could see the buildings’ height rise to 20 metres.
That’s after River’s Edge Partnership asked the city to relax its maximum allowable height for 1181 and 1191 Front St., citing that it may in part help address parking issues.
The existing height limit is set at 15 m for the front of the street and 12.5 m for sections along the trail of the waterfront.
The company is looking to propose a 19-m, five-storey hotel with “at least one additional” 13.5-m, 3.5-storey mixed use building next to the trail, according to a report to council last week.
The development could allow for housing, retail, restaurants, and tourism accommodations, the report noted, noting that some input from the public in 2010 showed concerns about rising building heights.
The development could include a 100-room hotel with a restaurant on the ground floor.
Its proximity to the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre could create opportunities for cultural events.
But Coun. Betty Irwin questioned whether it would hinder the view of the Yukon River.
If the 20-m permission were to be granted, “my concern would be ... it could block off any view of the river for residents of that existing building,” Irwin said.
A city staff member explained that the parcel of land being under the condominium corporation meant that the authorization would be needed from the ownership group to do that.
“Basically, they’re looking for a 20-metre relaxation for the entire parcel,” said Pat Ross, the city’s acting director of development services.
It could include that structure and others being built going forward, Ross added.
While Coun. Samson Hartland praised the project as a whole, he was not without hesitations.
“There’s lots of elements of this project that are exciting,” he said.
But he recalled “all the people throughout the years who provided their feedback to the city on what kind of waterfront they would like to see.
“And how they would like to see storey heights tapered in the community so that those closest to the clay cliffs can have a view of the waterfront just like anybody else.”
Hartland continued that relaxing the rules for one building could result in “unintended consequences,” should the zoning change eventually pass.
“There still remain lots behind that have not been built on or sold yet,” he noted.
“So logically, what’s going to follow is relaxation throughout the rest of the city is the way I see it.”
It could not only result in the blocking-off of the view, but also lead to other developers and residents having to “recalibrate as a result.”
Hartland voted against the reading, while Coun. Dan Boyd supported it, but said more details would be needed come the second reading.
“For now, I’m prepared to take it one more step forward ... but it doesn’t mean I’m satisfied with the height issue.
“It’s a wait-and-see.”
River’s Edge hopes to have a hotel development and mixed-use residential/commercial buildings.
The company is majority-owned through a partnership of the Vuntut Gwitchin and Kwanlin Dun First Nations with the two properties, which are located next to Shipyard’s park.
A River’s Edge webpage references this “naturalized waterfront setting” that offers “incredible views in a tranquil waterfront setting.”
City council is now taking its annual late-summer break from meetings.
As the Star reported last week, a Sept. 10 public hearing will be held as a result of the first reading of the zoning change being approved, along with a report on the hearing being given to council at its Sept. 17 meeting.
The following second and third readings could then take place on Sept. 24.
All councillors and Mayor Dan Curtis were present at Monday evening’s meeting.