Whitehorse Daily Star

Rezoning raises concerns about blocked views

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.

By Palak Mangat on August 7, 2018

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.

Comments (12)

Up 1 Down 1

Tired of arrogant development on Aug 14, 2018 at 3:48 pm

They should have designed their building within the bylaw, not the other way around. Or build 4 stories instead of 5. Getting tired of arrogant developers bullying their way through city council, and council rolling over to their demands!

Up 14 Down 2

Doug Ryder on Aug 11, 2018 at 11:20 pm

@ Yukoner and Take Care of Your Own - What a relief to know that others have seen the same thing I did when I was in Whitehorse - Drunks, aluminum, and broken glass the City of Whitehorse has no class -

Drinking and fighting while citizens and tourists are frightened - Children’s eyes lighting - Watch them bleed but pay them no heed - Here come the cops - Gonna bust their chops - Away they go without criminal in tow - The Judge would chastise - Malign and criticize - Bad cops, bad cops -

This man is a friend of Gladue - Leave him alone to swill his brew - It does not matter the lives he does shatter - not even the woman he does batter - Your logic is but unwanted pratter - In this court it is my opinion that does matter - Let them drink and fight because Gladue gives them that right-

Jail is for the pale - Those who drink too much ail while on others they wail - The drunken debaucherie of the Whitehorse menagerie - Go back Jack do it again - Wheel turning round and round -

You got 2 years plus last time - The system has obviously failed you - I’m sorry - How does 3 years of probation sound - The catch is you can only drink in your home - Cause, uhh, that is the problem right?

Hey you, ya you in the corner over there - The victim - Hey I am talking to you! Next time you will want to think about how you can avoid getting hit - Think about your role - Don’t be a nag! Sit in court sometime and listen - You will hear the blame - Keep your legs closed - Cross your legs...

Up 21 Down 1

Take Care of your Own on Aug 11, 2018 at 5:47 am

"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."

Maybe while you are building residences for the elite, you can take care of the people roaming about Shipyards Park who clearly need stable care. But I guess that's someone else's problem, right???

Up 17 Down 1

Yukoner on Aug 11, 2018 at 5:40 am

What value would this add to the community? To have elite apartments and hotel lodgings with Yukoners bearing the cost of our eroding identity and sightlines??

Shipyards park is a warzone of drunks and their broken glass. I don't take my kids there anymore, after my five year old witnessed a brutal fight amongst the group of resident drunk zombies. Drinking in public is illegal, but only for some I suppose?? Not to mention how much damage the park sustains from the thoughtless farmers market vendors.

City council needs to be concerned with maintaining what we have for the average citizen, and not pandering to developers to take their money and run.

Up 4 Down 10

Doug Ryder on Aug 10, 2018 at 7:21 pm

What is wrong with you negative-Nancy’s... Build them high, build them tall... The sky is the limit we will tell them all!
You can’t see the river from the vast majority of Whitehorse anyway - That includes the somewhat ironically named community of Riverdale.

But, if we build tall buildings on the river’s edge more people will actually get to see it - LMAO! SMH! Block the view... WTF? People arguing for the sake of arguing.

Up 10 Down 5

Josey Wales on Aug 9, 2018 at 6:04 am

Gee...here we go again, will it ever stop?
Perhaps we just merely start “modifying” their collective agreements as it seems our other agreements are completed in pencil that denote our collectively agreed direction for our community?
Seriously, let us just hack their collective labour negotiations into wee unrecognizeable bits of gibberish that undermines their original goals.
Seems the idiots in our hall are completely okay with destroying each part of our community with chronic “tweaking”, epic pandering, redefining fiscal irresponsibility, arrogance, commi lite....and we should play THEIR games sending clear messages.
They ALL, and their ideological stupidity must go.
Why we tolerate these morons, really is a wonder?
Unless we are over represented with morons equally as stupid as they clearly illustrate CoW is with each meeting?

Up 17 Down 2

Groucho d'North on Aug 8, 2018 at 4:34 pm

Anybody know how high the City's fire trucks can reach? Just asking.

Up 24 Down 6

Reality check on Aug 8, 2018 at 11:14 am

Another step closer to a "little Vancouver fancy town"...
Nothing against the hotel, but why can't the "small, wilderness and gold rush town flair" be preserved or rebuilt?

Sure, the damage was already done with the Mah's Point eyesore but this way with no "personality" anymore the city is now a conglomerate of a modern architecture trial version, old and ugly (empty) buildings, garbage decorated gravel pads and a tiny little bit of the past on Main Street which also could be a better area...

Whitehorse, the city with no direction and identity - sad!

Up 15 Down 19

rickrux on Aug 8, 2018 at 9:42 am

You can't see the river through a three story building either, NVD is building a 20 m high building also Mau's point went up to 20 meters. They are not asking for anything special. This will be good for Whitehorse as a whole. Election is coming and my vote is for development ......

Up 27 Down 5

Concerned taxpayer on Aug 8, 2018 at 8:53 am

If council allows this height restriction variance then I want the planners who came up with the existing height restrictions fired because there is no use paying people to do a planning job that gets over ridden at the whim of the first commercial greedies who only care about their own little interests.

Up 27 Down 6

Ilove Parks on Aug 7, 2018 at 6:22 pm

Say no to these high buildings which block views.
Just another reason why many on council should move on.

Up 21 Down 5

ProScience Greenie on Aug 7, 2018 at 3:30 pm

Headline should read... 'Corporate greed and politcal ego trump scenic mountain views and magical northen lights in the Wilderness City'.

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