Whitehorse city council OKs drive-thru off Alaska Highway

Whitehorse city council has given the OK to allow a new drive-thru restaurant just off the Alaska Highway. The restaurant is not named in council documents but is widely understood to be a Dairy Queen.

Proposed development, widely understood to be a Dairy Queen, would be built on Range Road near airport

The proposed drive-thru restaurant would be built on this empty lot on Range Road in Whitehorse. On Tuesday, city council approved a zoning amendment for the lot. (Paul Tukker/ CBC)

Whitehorse city council has given the OK to allow a new drive-thru restaurant just off the Alaska Highway.

Councillors voted on a zoning amendment on Tuesday to allow the development. The lot in question, on Range Road adjacent to the airport, was already zoned to allow for an eating or drinking establishment, but not a drive-thru.

Six councillors voted in favour of the amendment, and one — Coun. Steve Roddick — voted against.

The proposed restaurant for the lot is not named in council documents but is widely understood to be a Dairy Queen.

Earlier, city staff had recommended that councillors reject the zoning amendment.

Last week, the planning and sustainability manager for the city read a six-page public hearing report saying a drive-thru is not in line with the city's official community plan.

The lot is just off the Alaska Highway, adjacent to the airport. (City of Whitehorse)

The report suggested the development may encourage small-scale commercial usage on a large-scale commercial lot, deemed to be in short supply.

The city's public hearing also saw written submissions and petitions from residents. One petition in favour of the drive-thru had more than 2,200 signatures, according to Coun. Samson Hartland.

"I think it's time that we start to develop our highway infrastructure, in lockstep with other orders of government," Hartland said on Tuesday.

"This is quite a surprise it became such a contentious issue or a flashpoint for us last week, because for me, in my mind, it's been time, for quite some time."

Roddick, however, said he couldn't support the development.

"I would be just as excited as the next Yukoner to see the return of Dairy Queen. But this vote is not a referendum on Dairy Queen," Roddick said.

"It's a vote on whether or note to allow a drive-thru on the Alaska Highway, and I don't think that's a development pattern that's in the long-term interest of the city."   

In 2016, another proposal for an Alaska Highway drive-thru (further north, at the Kopper King) came before council and city staff recommended against it. Staff suggested the idea was not in line with the city's official plan, as it might compete with downtown businesses and also be out of line with the city's anti-idling goals.

Council ended up approving that proposal anyway, though no drive-thru establishment has yet been built on that site. The city's other existing drive-thrus are all in the downtown area.


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