Whitehorse council to consider McIntyre Creek plans

Whitehorse city officials ask council to okay controversial development plans in the McIntryre Creek area.

Whitehorse city officials are pushing ahead with controversial development plans.

They’re proposing a new residential subdivision and major roadway in a large green area in the middle of the city.

They say with Whitehorse’s current growth, the city will soon run out of building lots.

City planners blame the doubling of house prices in recent years on the land shortage.

Whitehorse city planner Mike Gau is asking council's ok to go ahead with controversial development plans in the McIntyre Creek area. (Dave Croft/CBC)

"The city has experienced significant pushback to development and most of these proposals, everywhere we propose development we face opposition. This has contributed to the lot shortage in Whitehorse and consequently the $455,000 average housing price today," said Mike Gau, a City of Whitehorse planning manager.

Many people are concerned about the new road and bridge crossing over McIntyre Creek, which is a popular area for walking and biking. There are also fears development will ruin a corridor used by wildlife crossing through the city.

But the city says environmental concerns about the green space between Takhini and Porter Creek are misplaced.

Wildlife biologist and environmental consultant Graeme Pelchat said it's surrounded by subdivisions and major roads. Moose and bears that find their way into the area don't belong there.

"Currently, when bears are in there and people see them, they're reported and the Yukon government sets traps in there and tries to move them out," he said.

Wildlife biologist and environmental consultant Graeme Pelchat says the green space in McIntyre Creek is surrounded by subdivisions and major roads. (Dave Croft/CBC)

City manager Dennis Shewfelt said development in Whitehorse should only be on its existing footprint and developing new areas should be put off as long as possible.

"At some point in time the city will likely have to expand across the [Yukon] river. That's going to be hugely expensive and it will have significant environmental impact, we know that now," Shewfelt said.  

The manager's recommendation will be given to city council on Monday night. Council will also also receive hundreds of submissions from people opposed to the development.

A vote could come as soon as the following week.