Yukon News

City proposes 13 new housing developments in existing Whitehorse neighbourhoods

Lori Garrison Wednesday May 17, 2017

Yukon News File

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Population growth projections indicate Whitehorse could need 4,500 new homes in the next 14 years.

Whitehorse city council will consider opening up 13 parcels of land in existing neighbourhoods as a first step to providing thousands of homes over the next 15 years.

Proposed neighbourhoods include Mary Lake, MacPherson, Granger, Logan, Arkell, Porter Creek and Whitehorse Copper areas, city staff said in a presentation to council.

Depending on zoning and size, each proposed development would hold one to five lots, said Mike Ellis, acting manager of planning and sustainability.

These developments are laid out in the 2010 Official Community Plan, as well as the commitment to affordable housing outlined in the newly-updated strategic plan, city staff said.

Further development in the Whistle Bend area is not included in the plan, because that area has “been the major focus of development” for the last several years and the city needs to build in other areas to “ensure there is an adequate supply of housing and help ease escalation of housing prices,” staff wrote in a report to council.

Current population growth projections predict Whitehorse will need 4,500 new homes by 2031. Whistle Bend will eventually cover 3,500 of those new residences, with 1,000 new homes still required in other parts of the city.

Suites could also be built into houses, Ellis said, which would effectively create an additional rental unit, as is common in Whistle Bend.

The territorial government has very little land for sale in Whistle Bend, administration said. The city currently has no land for sale. This makes it necessary for the city to open land for development.

“Additional housing units will be needed in the city,” said Ellis. “In order to provide that, you need land.”

Coun. Samson Hartland wanted to know why land is so hard to come by.

“How is it that we have found ourselves in a position where the city has no land for sale?” he said.

“That’s a good and complication question,” Ellis said.

Ellis said that, unlike many municipalities in Canada, private companies do not own large swaths of land within the municipality. This means that when land is developed, the territorial government must absorb the cost of buiding roads, sewers and water mains before the lots can be sold.

“YG is actually in almost all cases the owner but we (the city and the territory) work together as a team,” he said.

The high cost of development means developable land is scarce, he said, both in Whitehorse and across the territory.

“No private developer in the territory has the capacity to do this,” Ellis said.

“As we continue to find ourself in the position (of having no land for sale) it only causes housing costs to rise,” said Hartland.

Ellis stresses the proposal is “only in the consultation phase.” If approved by council on May 23, consultation will begin almost immediately and run through until June 16. This would include heavy advertising of the proposal, online-based surveys and campaigns, signs on the new lots and input from the residents nearest the new lots, Ellis said.

“This makes sense from a city-wide perspective, to have more houses, but we realize it can be difficult for existing residents,” he said. “We want the public to help us find a way that is positive for as many people as possible.”

“This isn’t an overnight process,” Ellis said. “That’s not fair (to residents).”

The process is not as simple as clearing out some space and selling lots. Staff will also have to review zoning and environmental aspects of development. The proposed lots wouldn’t be available until “late fall at the very earliest, even winter,” Ellis said.

“The point is, it’s helpful whenever it comes.”

All the proposed development locations are currently in green spaces where there is little or no recreational activity, he said. Ellis admits this loss of green space might be hard for some residents to swallow.

“Nothing gets people excited like putting up lots,” said Coun. Rob Fendrick. “So this should be interesting.”

“We’ve gone through this process before. We know what to expect,” he said. “But Whitehorse is growing … how did that housing get there (in the first place)? It was all green space, once upon a time.”

Contact Lori Garrison at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

12 Comments

Groucho d'North wrote:
5:46pm Monday May 22, 2017

NIMBYS are popping up like crocuses. Must be construction season ahead.

Lana Marshall wrote:
9:35pm Saturday May 20, 2017

Residents against the addition of Residential Lots to existing neighbourhoods, email your Mayor and Council, state your opinion.  They have two choices to make either to approve or do not approve the residential land development.  These lots will need zoning and multiple approval and months of public process….tell them now how you feel about this and they can make the correct choice right away and not approve this.

ProScience Greenie wrote:
12:03pm Saturday May 20, 2017

It is too late to do anything about WB now but it is not very pretty and never will be unless you are the type that goes Outside and admires that kind of high density row housing development with crappy landscape.

Odd that some of the biggest defenders of WB live on either nice country residential lots or older large city lots that truly are what makes Whitehorse a wilderness city. More of that is needed and in demand but it would not keep the real estate and developers wallets fat. Or the wallets of the boomers that got their land cheap and are sitting on properties worth close to a million. Follow the money to see the real greed that is out there. It’s not like there is a shortage of land in the overly huge CoW city limits.

Incredible wrote:
8:16am Saturday May 20, 2017

It’s incredible to see the City bureaucrats blame the lack of lots on the lack of private sector land developers! The lack of lots is clearly the fault of YG and the City planners. This has been completely predictable and incompetence is the reason.
It’s true, there is a lack of big enough land developers to finance and manage big development of lots. So why doesn’t YG and the City help develop such an industry,  by slowly letting the private sector involvement grow by putting out mangable sized development packages?
Typical, government bureaucrats trying to blame someone else for their own incompetence.

Anie wrote:
8:50am Friday May 19, 2017

Jean, in April thus year, according to newspaper reports, there was one , yes ONE , residential lot available in Whistle Bend. Every other lit was sold. So I don’t see your point

Take a drive through Whistle Bend some day. It is a growing, well planned community with trees and greenery. People really need to open their minds a bit here

Who paying wrote:
7:00pm Thursday May 18, 2017

for the local improvement charges?

Robert wrote:
11:09am Thursday May 18, 2017

Eventually, you have to clear some green space to built but you don’t have to clear cut all. Buffer zones can be done. It is very sad to see such small lots for a overpriced cost. If the fire gets to a house, it can destroy an entire project. Simply to close for comfort.
The territory is so vast, why not develop some acreage project lots ? and half acreage lots. 
who owns the land ? 

Somewhere down the road the prices have to and will drop and yes it makes it unfair to the ones that already own a house and example:  they should be compensated for the difference or tax exempted for years to come if this is the case. And a reduced priced of the property should also reflect if a sale occur.  There is no possible reason to have a lot priced so high.  Have you compared land elsewhere in Canada, except Toronto and Vancouver ?
Large lots including acreages are available and reasonably priced cheaper !!  If you purchase more materials, the price normally drops.

Back East, the developers are responsible to do the infrastructures and connect to the city main pipe.
The total costs are divided per project lots sale. 
This is my opinion only.

 

 

BnR wrote:
7:09am Thursday May 18, 2017

Hugh Mungus.  Jean don’t fix stuff, too much fun complaining.
Looks like he just cut and pasted his CBC Yukon comments.

Joe wrote:
7:08pm Wednesday May 17, 2017

What a bunch of overpaid unqualified bureaucrats. Theres a reason the lots are still undeveloped- they are wet zones or other almost impossible to develop lots.  These bureaucrats screw up long term planning , blame it ytg lands branch and then, try and find infill lots in an effort to substantiate their jobs. Its really time for this city to do an internal audit…

Hugh Mungus wrote:
3:51pm Wednesday May 17, 2017

@ Jean

Country residential lots in a neighbourhood of 8,000 people?  Hahahaha.  You’re starting to sound like a broken record with every post whining about Whistlebend or COWs sustainability branch.  Why don’t you run for office and fix all this stuff?

Citizen Z wrote:
2:35pm Wednesday May 17, 2017

What about the Greenspace Plebicite that forces a citizens vote before any greenspace development can happen. The City can’t ignore that.

jean wrote:
2:07pm Wednesday May 17, 2017

If any portion of Wasteland Bend had been left treed and developed as country residential lots, then every one of those lots would have been sold as soon as they came on the market. Despite the fact that all public polls indicated a demand for CR lots, it was the Sustainability Department’s myopic fixation on socially engineering the behavior of Yukon residents that created the Wasteland Bend debacle. Anyone could have told them that creating a 60s style small lot suburb was a recipe for failure. This is what happens when governments listen to children from the south with environmental degrees and no real world experience,  that have never lived in the Yukon

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