Whitehorse Daily Star

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Kristina Craig

Stress housing for Macaulay Lodge site, council urged

The Yukon government wants the former site of Macaulay Lodge rezoned so future development can include a mix of commercial and residential space.

By Ethan Lycan-Lang on January 18, 2023

The Yukon government wants the former site of Macaulay Lodge rezoned so future development can include a mix of commercial and residential space.

Advocates, however, are asking Whitehorse city council to put housing first.

The former seniors home on Klondike Road in Riverdale was demolished last year.

The government initially said it would “redevelop the Macaulay Lodge site to build homes for Yukoners.” 

The government is now asking the city to rezone the site so it can be sold to the private sector and developed as a mixed commercial and residential property.

The site is currently zoned as a mix of Public Services, which allows for housing but not commercial developments, and Protected Greenbelt, to be left undisturbed.

The proposed amendment would allow commercial businesses on the ground floor of the future development, with residential housing built on top.

Advocates from the community spoke to council Monday night, asking them to put housing first. Frank Bachmier is with the Yukon Council of Aging.

“To sell it off to private enterprise to build a commercial situation is just out of the question,” Bachmier told council.

He said there are more than 200 Yukoners waiting for seniors’ housing, and Macauley Lodge should be replaced with just that.

He said he fears selling the lodge for private development that includes commercial property wouldn’t incentivize developers to create affordable seniors’ housing, nor affordable housing in general.

“It’s going to end up with high-end condos to justify profit for the operation,” said Bachmier, who outlined his concerns in a letter to former premier Sandy Silver. It was published in last Friday’s Star.

Bachmier asked council to wait to approve the zoning amendment until the Yukon Council on Aging had more time to speak with the territory and negotiate for seniors’ housing.

His letter asked Silver not to sell the property, but to ensure new seniors’ housing is built there. He told council he has not received a reply from the ex-premier.

Kristina Craig of the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition isn’t opposed to the commercial rezoning, but also emphasized the need for housing at the site to serve the community.

“Affordability is a dramatic issue here,” she said. “One of the pieces around affordability is housing supply.”

Craig referenced a recent Yukon Bureau of Statistics report that found one in six Yukoners is spending more than 30 per cent of his or her gross annual income on housing.

That exceeds the common benchmark of affordability used by groups like the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. 

The report also found more than 10 per cent of Whitehorse households are either unsuitable, inadequate or, overwhelmingly, unaffordable.

Craig said increasing housing supply is imperative for improving housing affordability in the city. More than that, she said, housing with rents attached to household income is worth considering.

“We see that there’s a valuable piece of land that could be used for housing folks who are low-income or facing other challenges,” she said, noting the property is close to services and bus routes.

“We just hope that that’s part of the consideration that you give when you’re looking at the zoning changes.”

A Yukon Housing Corp. (YHC) spokesperson said in an email to the Star last week that allowing commercial businesses on the ground floor of a future development will “will make the most use of the land, which allows for a higher-density, multi-family development in addition to commercial use.”

The YHC said it anticipates selling the property through public tender in the spring. 

“Ensuring seniors have adequate housing remains a priority for this government,” the YHC statement said.

“Other initiatives, such as Normandy Living, will fill a gap in the housing market by providing supportive housing for seniors who would benefit from additional support but are not in need of long-term care.”

The zoning amendment will return to council for a second reading next month.

The lodge first opened in 1969.

Comments (13)

Up 0 Down 0

UN on Jan 24, 2023 at 3:24 pm

Please ensure a soil depth profile is completed before any sale or building of a structure. The soil did not meet the criteria laid out in the YG tender and was not tested to ensure it was not contaminated.

Up 21 Down 0

DL on Jan 21, 2023 at 1:35 pm

The former site of Macaulay Lodge is an ideal place for senior housing which is desperately needed in Whitehorse. There is no need for more commercial venues in Riverdale, the existing ones are obviously underused.

Up 53 Down 4

RiverdaleRes on Jan 19, 2023 at 11:22 am

Riverdale does NOT need commercial space. There's plenty of commercial space here in various states of abandonment. Right across the street is the Heart of Riverdale with some fine examples of unneeded commercial space.
Maybe an aging in place type residence for seniors so they can enjoy being close to walking trails and the hospital.
C'mon YG, show some vision for Yukoners, not just NVD vision.

Up 25 Down 8

Josey Wales on Jan 19, 2023 at 7:21 am

Gee...be great opportunity to walk the walk O planet saving nobility.

Build a (yet another) wee socialist experiment there, a village of homes built with zero plastics, zero mined products, zero fossil fuel heat ( obviously as burners require metal) ABSOLUTELY no vehicles allowed including ambulances.
Set a requirement that no whites allowed and preference will be given to any other pigmentations (after the cultural elites that may wish to leave their colonial convenience, set up...of course) that are experiencing hard core drug addiction.
Since ya need both plastic and a mine to make a syringe, good luck.

Also too no residents can be carrying the factory equipment born with, transition tenants highly preferred.
Oh yeah, since the police in the eyes of many of the same SJWs should be defunded...zero LEO stop ins for any reason.

Clause the Aryan at the WEF would put Whitehorse on zee map, and give his megalomaniac ego additional boasting time...besides the pride that the “WEF” has permeated the CLP...PM Blackfaces diverse team of foreign nationals and WEF puppets.

* important point in the context of this ridiculous post...
A communist is just a socialist that, REALLY, really means it!
Whatever happens there, NVD will be there...$$ $ucker$

Up 6 Down 11

Yukoner on Jan 19, 2023 at 7:20 am

Build a new Heart of Riverdale on the site and then build something new on the existing Heart of Riverdale. This is an opportunity that will only happen once and the Heart provides so much amazing programming but the building really needs to be replaced; there is no way it actually passes any codes or fire safety requirements.

Up 42 Down 5

Max Mack on Jan 18, 2023 at 11:04 pm

Destroying Macaulay Lodge had nothing to do with safety or renovation costs or helping institutionalized seniors, but everything to do with turning over a prime piece of Riverdale real estate to certain interests for development purposes.

These select developers will receive preferential bidding rights, preferential inspection processes, exemptions from the normal building rules, zoning exemptions, cash subsidies and tax relief. Perhaps they will even receive ongoing cash subsidies for rents.

This is about stuffing money into certain pockets. I think I know who the winners will be. I can't wait to be proven wrong.

Up 29 Down 2

bonanzajoe on Jan 18, 2023 at 8:16 pm

@drum on Jan 18, 2023: I agree. Let's get a petition going. If the Government sells the land, the proceeds will just be squandered. Seniors are on the rise and need housing. That's the governments job.

Up 24 Down 1

Crunch on Jan 18, 2023 at 6:41 pm

Haha SS has an IOU outstanding on a previous deal to allow commercial on that site. The new P won’t have to honour the commitment cause he didn’t make the deal. Let the games begin.

Up 24 Down 2

No way jose on Jan 18, 2023 at 4:57 pm

Why oh why do they need commercial space? Why not all rental space? Whitehorse needs more rental places - people need a place too rent. Like Whitehorse needs more businesses.

Up 20 Down 3

Thomas Brewer on Jan 18, 2023 at 4:53 pm

last I checked, there's pretty high density of low and middle affordable apartments all around that area. Perhaps something nice for empty nesters that want to remain in Riverdale vs head downtown or Range Road.

Up 24 Down 2

Housing on Jan 18, 2023 at 4:42 pm

Housing includes rentals, which are typically developer driven. Housing does not mean everyone should get to buy a house. I now own a home, pay my bills and work hard to be there. But for the first 38 years of my life, I rented, different places, different times, sometimes good and sometimes not so good. That's how you learn to work hard. Away with the socialists and "advocates" who think everyone should be able to buy a house right away.

Up 84 Down 7

drum on Jan 18, 2023 at 3:17 pm

It was a residence for Older Age people from the Yukon - that is what it should be in the future.

Up 74 Down 7

John on Jan 18, 2023 at 3:05 pm

I'm sorry, but in my opinion seniors have a higher priority than what else is being advocated. This appears to be a dumping exercise by YTG and the Premier's portfolio. We are still experiencing a fairly large number of seniors that are coming on that is going to exceed the current and future availability. Let's look ahead and not backwards. We do not need commercial designation for this site - period. There are lots of vacant properties in town for commercial activity.

Typical government can not look to the future but instead always trying to play catch up. For God's sake be pro-active for a change, especially since this lot has been sitting vacant for the last 3.5 to 4 years.

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