Yukon News

Infill proposal ‘deceiving’ says Whitehorse Copper resident

Lori Garrison Friday June 16, 2017

Joel Krahn/Yukon News

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The plan by the City of Whitehorse to add infill lots in country residential areas within city limits has some residents unhappy.

A proposal by the city to add new infill lots to existing neighbourhoods has been met with resistance by some residents.

An online petition on Change.org had 132 signatures as of June 15. The petition, started by Craig Yakiwchuk, cites concerns regarding the protection of groundwater, wildlife habitat and green spaces, maintaining trails, and inconsistencies with the city’s sustainability plan and the proposed development.

Sites for the suggested infill lots include Mary Lake, Cowley Creek, Whitehorse Copper and Hidden Valley, many of which are classed as ‘country residential’ areas.

Yakiwchuk, who lives in Whitehorse Copper, said he has had “very intimate experience with infill.” When he purchased his property in 2008, he said, the lot behind his home was zoned for a school. In 2015, the city “changed its mind” about the site, and rezoned the area residential and sectioned it off into three lots, the closest of which, he said, is about 250 metres from his house.

The new residences damaged the performance of his well, he said.

“I have to haul water to water my garden and my grass now,” Yakiwchuk said. “I can’t even do two things at once in my house now, like run the dishwasher and the washing machine at the same time, because we are down to one gallon of water a minute.”

Yakiwchuk said the green spaces the city wants to put some of the infill lots in were designed to be buffer zones, designed to lower stress on the septic beds and well systems and protect the environment.

Kinden Kosick, a city planner and manager of the infill project, said the city hasn’t reviewed the environmental reports for all the proposed lots yet, but that they are looking carefully at water and sewer issues.

Mike Ellis, acting manager of planning and sustainability, said the city “still wants to keep adequate greenspace.”

Studies have shown that in most cases, adding lots is good for housing values and neighbourhoods, said Ellis.

The city has its own survey in place, said Kosick, which is available online on the city’s website. So far 420 people have take the survey, which closes June 17.

“We’ve had a variety of responses, both positive and negative,” said Kosick.

Some of the concerns raised in Yakiwchuk’s petition are “not valid” Ellis said.

“We have a process that we’ve set up to collect input on this … and an individually conducted petition is not something we will be considering, obviously,” he said.

Ellis said that while the city understands that not everyone is happy with the proposed sites, he stresses this is still an information-gathering and planning stage, nothing is set in stone, and that the city is “definitely listening” to feedback from residents.

Yakiwchuk disagrees.

“My impression is that they have a preconceived notion that this is going to happen,” he said.

Yakiwchuk said that he felt the questions in the city’s online survey were “loaded.”

He also said the way the city went about informing residents about the proposed infill lots was “deceiving” because they only told residents within a certain range of criteria the city itself set to determine who is “affected” by the lots, instead of informing whole neighborhoods.

“The way they proposed this whole thing is very defeating,” he said.

“I’m not against development, I don’t consider myself an environmentalist, but I feel like (the city) just doesn’t have a plan.”

Ellis said the city plans to take the information they have gathered after the survey closes to do some draft mapping of proposed sites, which will be released to their website. The information will be presented to city council sometime in July, with public consultation and hearings in September.

“We’re not in a rush,” said Ellis. “We want to give the public a chance to really look things over.”

“It’s not that we’re plowing ahead regardless. We’re gathering info.”

Yakiwchuk disagrees with that as well, calling the proposed sites a “knee-jerk reaction” to the city’s obvious housing issues.

“I’m not against country residential development,” he said. “It just seems to me that they’re in a rush, without a plan, working in panic mode.”

Ellis said that, regardless, the city needs more lots because people need more houses.

“Growth (in the city) has been steady for a while now. Lots of people want to live here, move here, retire here, make homes for their families here,” said Ellis.

“It’s really a refinement about making decisions about what works and what doesn’t,” said Kosick. “There’s going to be some tough decision and compromises.”

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

15 Comments

Jayne W wrote:
8:50pm Friday June 23, 2017

I am curious if the proposed infill goes through…for example Mary Lake there could be up to 10-15 new homes….now each home brings their 4-6 dog maximum.  Are by-laws going to change to reduce this.  Residents here already complain about barking dogs…afraid to walk on the road as a dog comes up to them etc.  Can’t wait to see how things look with maybe 40 more in neighbourhood.  Also the trails behind Cadet camp down to Mary Lake….will that become non-motorized….the new home owners might not appreciate the sound of ATV’s, snow machines, dirt bikes in their backyard.  They just changed it in Whistle Bend because the residents “assumed” it was going to be non-motorized….will it be assumed here too?  By adding new lots…by laws will have to be reviewed to keep up with the population in neighbourhood.

Salar wrote:
10:22am Friday June 23, 2017

To all Country Res who oppose… It is sad and nimby to get all up in arms when folks want to do exactly as you have. What about your septic, well and effect on wildlife? No Plan ever made a law to protect your personal opinion on the land adjacent to or on a property that you hold title to. And anyone who claims ‘promises’ were made to protect them is a fool. Hardly sounds like educated folks when it comes across so juvenile….I know you are but what am I…..waaah.
Get your windex out but don’t plan on selling your house anytime soon, prices are out of touch with reality. Pretty much sums up the whole debate.

kracker wrote:
8:04pm Thursday June 22, 2017

Jayne: Yes YTG may own the land but it basically get defaulted to COW.

Jayne W wrote:
5:19pm Thursday June 22, 2017

@Mike, most of us in Country Residential have HUGE LOTS!!!!!!!  So really to worry about seeing additional residents is not a really big concern, still would not see them.  VALID concerns are water, septic, location of parcels/lots (wildlife, safety) .  And not too worried about the price of my home going down….this is just going to make Country Residential even higher in value!

Mike wrote:
12:40pm Thursday June 22, 2017

Let’s be honest here. There are no concerns aside from these people don’t want more people in “their” areas, and they think more homes will drive down their homes resale value. And will find any minor affect to get their way. Personal greed is all this boils down too.

Jayne W wrote:
3:29pm Wednesday June 21, 2017

@Kracker YTG owns some of the land.  @Olaf I see concerns about water and septic…pretty straight forward and quite logical.  @BNB from what I see from this petition it is not just one person agreeing….. there are questions many people have.  @Bruce Gillis…why do I need windex?  When we bought we viewed the protected areas and made our decision….why are they not protected now.

K.Innes-Taylor wrote:
11:20am Tuesday June 20, 2017

I have sent the following to the city council, MLA’s and planners.
We have serious concerns on the location of infill lots on the Morraine Drive/Talus Drive location which is shown as encompassing a primary creek corridor to the Yukon River.
This area is an important marshland area which is visited by migratory birds, song birds and also provides a small wildlife corridor to the Yukon River Valley.
The area is in a black spruce/permafrost northeast facing slope which should not be disturbed.  We are very concerned about septic seepage into the marshland as well as disruption of the hillside overlooking the marshland.  The adjacent Morraine Drive has been obviously affected by permafrost thawing as can bee seen by the undulating road surface.

We have concerns about several other locations .  They all appear to be in wet/black spruce areas, so feel no due diligence has occurred on the part of the planning department.  It simply takes a drive by or a walk through to see where the problems lie.
Sincerely,
Kristin Innes-Taylor
Larry Lebedoff

Kracker wrote:
6:08pm Monday June 19, 2017

The question is this: Who owns the land? My guess is it’s the city’s so it’s their prerogative to do whatever they want. I understand it’s nice having undeveloped land next to your three acres to walk your dog, call in some owls etc. but this is business. Petition all you want, wasting your time as it should be.

Max Mack wrote:
10:56pm Saturday June 17, 2017

‘Some of the concerns raised in Yakiwchuk’s petition are “not valid” Ellis said.’

And that pretty much sums up CoW’s attitude to anyone who disagrees with them.

Olaf Wolfe wrote:
8:33pm Saturday June 17, 2017

A clear case of NIMBY.  Concern for wildlife?  An interesting
Comment from a big game outfitter.

Larry-2 wrote:
3:33pm Saturday June 17, 2017

Say NAY!  What bugs me is that the City Planners come up with a plan for a subdivision, laying out all the green spaces, parks, future schools, trails, etc.  All is good and people are happy.  But a few years go by and there are New City Planners who don’t care about what was promised in the past because they didn’t promise it!  So, to justify their new jobs, they must do some planning, but the new government is pinching pennies and can’t pay for a whole subdivision with the access roads, surveying, geotechnical surveys and water and sewer they must provide, so they have to do it on the cheap - - OH, I know, let’s just “infill” that way we earn our monthly pay check.  Viola!

BnR wrote:
11:02am Saturday June 17, 2017

Larry, is CofW supposed to listen to every hypocritical NIMBY that comes along? 
This is so bloody typical.  I got mine, but no one else can get theirs.  Yak didn’t seem to have any problem going for land grabs and running canoeists off “his” land when he was running Lone Wolf.
http://yukon-news.com/news/new-policy-gives-outfitters-exclusive-rights

Jay Jay wrote:
10:21pm Friday June 16, 2017

Why does Mike Ellis rule out taking a petition into consideration like that? “We have a process that we’ve set up to collect input on this … and an individually conducted petition is not something we will be considering, obviously,” he said. “Obviously”. He’s only proving Craig Yakiwchuk’s point, that the process is predetermined. After the Hillcrest fiasco, you’d think 130 signatures would at least merit lip service from planners. Oh, what am I saying? This is far from the first time I’ve heard city planners weigh in prematurely.  The same guys have been stepping all over public consultation for years now.

The water issue shouldn’t be ignored, if Craig Y is feeling his water access has already been impacted. But the fact is, he could be a hydrologist and the planners would ignore him, because, you know, he lives there. In their eyes, that makes him a lobbyist.

Bruce Gillis wrote:
3:04pm Friday June 16, 2017

Please stop complaining. From this whole process all i have read about is how residents in ‘country residential’ do not want more people. Well, guess what, I’m sure if you didn’t live there and wanted to, you’d be saying let us ‘build’. I used to use copper north for the trails, and people built houses, and now those in the houses want to keep the green space…please. Get some windex to wash those glass windows. I know of few of the driving forces on the nay side, who benifited from the second lottery and now that their family has lots, they are now against it. Again…starting windexing

Larry wrote:
1:08pm Friday June 16, 2017

The comments from bureaucrat planner Mike Ellis exhibit a level of arrogance that is totally unacceptable. To criticize and ridicule Mr. Yakiwchuk’s petition and personal comments is troubling when coming from a senior City Manager who is being paid by our taxpayers nickel.

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