Whitehorse needs more building lots, and fast, councillors say
'We’ve come through a bit of a slow period, and now I think demand is going to go up,' says Dan Boyd
Whitehorse is experiencing a building lot crunch and there's little relief in sight, according to some city councillors.
"We're going to be out of lots sooner than we think," said councillor Dan Boyd at Monday's council meeting.
"The economy is rolling along, we've got mines opening up ... we've come through a bit of a slow period, and now I think demand is going to go up."
Council received an update on the ongoing development of the new Whistle Bend subdivision, which is expected to bring hundreds more lots and housing units — from condos and townhouses to single family homes — onto the market in the next few years.
Phase three of the development is already underway, with lots expected to be for sale by next spring. Phase four development lots could be ready by fall, according to city planners.
That simply won't be enough, Boyd says.
"We have a serious shortage of housing lots on the market, and I would argue that we don't have a huge supply coming," Boyd said.
"We just need to do everything we possibly can to get onto more planning, and more supply, as quickly as we can."
Councillor Samson Hartland agreed, saying Boyd is "in tune, yet again."
"I've — like Councillor Boyd — been sounding off about our position here, especially when we're looking at in-fill [lots], to essentially put a band-aid on what is essentially a big wound right now."
No commercial activity, yet
The Whistle Bend subdivision is envisioned by planners as a neighbourhood of over 8,000 residents, with a town square, transit services, three schools and retail shops. It's being planned through a partnership between the City of Whitehorse and the Yukon government.
However, it is still a housing development, with no commercial or retail activity yet.
City planner Mike Ellis assured council on Monday that it's only a matter of time before businesses move in.
"The great benefit of building at this scale and density is that, yes, it should be able to support a wide range of commercial services. If you looked at a comparable town of 8,000 people, you'd find a main street filled with barber shops, post offices and cafes and things," Ellis said.
"It really is just taking enough people to live nearby for the private sector to say it's worth jumping in there. But with the acceleration of growth down there, we are optimistic it will be soon."
Ellis says things should pick up after next year, when the new continuing care facility opens in the neighbourhood.