Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

SITE OF POTENTIAL DEVELOPMENT – The proposed 10-unit micro-housing development on Hawkins Street would be built where the trees currently are. Area residents have raised potential concerns about the building’s height, parking congestion, noise and garbage collection, among other issues. Inset Pat Ross

City staff favour micro-housing development

City staff are recommending that council move ahead

By Stephanie Waddell on January 11, 2017

City staff are recommending that council move ahead with second and third readings on a zoning amendment that would trigger plans for a 10-unit micro-housing development.

The proposed amendments would take out one required off-street parking spot.

It would leave five spots on the site rather than six, and waive the requirement for private amenity space, such as a balcony, for eight of the 10 units.

Proposed is a rooftop patio that would exceed the size regulations for both shared and private amenity space.

360 Design Build is proposing to build the four-storey structure that would also feature 251 square metres of commercial space.

The project is proposed as an affordable housing initiative, with 360 Design Build approved for $500,000 from the territory to build it.

Under the initiative, the units must be kept as affordable, with 360 proposing a rent of $795 per month for tenants.

“The applicant is proposing a significant amount of development on this 329 square metre lot, which is sized smaller than typical downtown lots that measure 464 square metres,” city planning manager Pat Ross noted in his report to council Monday evening.

“The applicant has stated they cannot scale back the intensity of development, as they want to ensure it is economically feasible, hence the two zoning requests.”

Concerns over parking have dominated much of the council discussion, and were cited by residents of the area during the public hearing process last month.

Three residents addressed council directly at the public hearing. Another eight written submissions were also received expressing concern or outright opposition to the proposed amendment.

Many have noted that it’s already difficult to find a parking spot on Hawkins Street during the day Mondays to Fridays.

It’s been suggested that reducing the required parking spots even by just one would put further pressure on parking in the downtown area.

In his report Monday evening, Ross pointed out the current Downtown Parking Management Plan, adopted in 2011, recommends gradually expanding the two-hour unmetered parking zone in the downtown area.

The idea is to help ensure residents and customers of area shops get priority for parking in those areas rather than those driving downtown and parking for the full day.

“Implementing this recommendation on Hawkins Street, along with a residential parking permit program, could help to alleviate potential issues with parking availability related to the new development,” Ross stated in his report.

“This would give on-street parking priority to short-term visitors and customers while allowing residents to park longer than two hours.

“The city will be undertaking an update to the Downtown Parking Management Plan in 2017, which will include a review of zoning regulations concerning off-street parking requirements.”

Parking continued to be the focus of discussion for council at Monday night’s meeting.

Councillors Rob Fendrick and Betty Irwin wondering if one of the area’s major employers – the Yukon government – is looking at ways to deal with the parking situation.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if YG offered more transit services to its employees?” Fendrick quipped.

While the city runs the bus system, it has programs where it can work with large bodies to offer transit passes to a group.

Currently, it works with the territory’s Department of Education so that high school students can obtain a transit pass.

A similar program exists with Yukon College.

Meanwhile, Irwin wondered if the territory has looked at any ideas on how to provide its employees with more parking space.

Ross responded by saying he will try to get more details on that for council.

Other concerns brought forward through the public hearing focused on privacy concerns and the potential for noise from the proposed rooftop patio.

There were also anxieties about the 15-m height not being in character with other buildings on the street, issues over water drainage and garbage collection, and more.

Ross responded by pointing out the patio would be toward the rear of the roof where it would face Jim Light Park. It would not be adjacent to properties, and any noise issues would be dealt with through the city’s maintenance bylaw.

He also noted that Hawkins Street includes buildings that vary from one to four storeys, and that the proposed 15-m height is within the 20-m height limit for the area outlined in the zoning bylaw.

“Allowing 20-m heights helps to meet the Official Community Plan’s objectives of promoting the mix of multiple-housing and commercial uses to increase the vitality of downtown,” Ross stated in his report.

Finally, it was acknowledged that there have been some water issues in the area, generated by road heaves, with future roadwork recommended to address the issue.

Drainage mitigation is also addressed through the development permit process.

The city would also deal with other issues, such as garbage collection, future development plans for the downtown and so on, its bylaws, policies and plans.

Council will vote on whether to move forward with the zoning amendments next week.

Monday’s session was council members’ first meeting since their Christmas-New Year’s break.

Comments (8)

Up 6 Down 2

mark on Jan 16, 2017 at 7:05 pm

Micro apartments in the Yukon, you got to be kidding, like there is really a lack of space in the Yukon. Let me guess: the government can now charge (extort) more taxes per chicken, cause that's what it is going to be a: chicken coop, including the poop and noise.

Up 7 Down 7

really on Jan 15, 2017 at 4:02 pm

I'm sure the developer and the city will ensure Winter City design principles are followed and a shadow analysis is done in the hope of limiting the impact on surrounding properties.

Up 17 Down 1

Tired of nepatism on Jan 14, 2017 at 9:47 am

Everyone against this let the city know, otherwise it will happen.


Up 22 Down 2

No place to park on Jan 13, 2017 at 5:44 pm

If I remember correctly this development has commercial on the ground floor. Where is the parking for those workers and the clientele that visit? Must be in the back alley...oh wait that is full.....will be a tight fit for 5 cars, bike racks and a dumpster for the garbage. I bet over half the tenants will have a vehicle. Who gets screened in for the affordable rent? For HALF A MILLION DOLLARS one would have hoped us taxpayers would be shelling out affordable housing that is more then micro in size (350-411 sq feet)! That would average out to 380 square feet per unit....make it an even 400. That is a subsidy of $125/sq foot!!! Hell of a deal!!

Up 51 Down 4

Max Mack on Jan 12, 2017 at 11:52 am

And yet another example of the tilted field at city hall. A well-known developer gets substantial subsidies to develop trendy micro units, and the planners are bending over backwards to make everyone pay even more for this project (i.e. making parking more difficult for both tenants and citizens). Imagine the public outcry if this was Donald Trump proposing this . . .

Not to mention the gift of a 4-story monolith darkening the sky for adjacent residential properties? But, we are reassured the building will be "below the 20-metre maximum". Wow. That's so comforting.

As if that isn't enough, this project triggers off a whole other discussion about the need to further reduce parking downtown for workers, as though things aren't bad enough already. Yes - let's make those $15-per-hour single moms pay!

And who cares what residents have to say, right? After all, we have that court-determined "democratic" OCP + Parking "Management" Strategy to back up CoW decisions, except when the OCP has to be amended to justify some other CoW approval . . .

Up 16 Down 2

Tony G. on Jan 11, 2017 at 10:36 pm

Extremely poor photo. This makes Hawkins Street look like it's on a hill which it is not.
It is perfectly level along there.

Up 35 Down 5

Lodt in the Yukon on Jan 11, 2017 at 5:05 pm

So, no longer is it the elected officials that have been voted in to represent the citizens of Whitehorse, it is the bureaucracy hired to serve the peoples' representatives that call the shots. Nice to know. Maybe people like Mr. Ross or the Manager of Sustainability could give up their bloated salaries and run for office - sort of coming out of the shadows.

Up 40 Down 1

If you build it... on Jan 11, 2017 at 4:54 pm

Out of curiosity, were any other proposals received on this? Was Kobyashi Zedda/360 the only proposal received? Who owns the lot?
Who will own the building and get the rent, which seems to be partly funded by taxpayers?

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