The Yukon government is not accepting bids for an empty lot in Whitehorse to create more housing
Years after an empty lot in downtown Whitehorse was first considered for housing, the Yukon government is finally accepting bids to develop the lot — but the successful contract must now include landslide protection.
The state-owned lot on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Rogers Street has been considered for high-density housing since the Yukon Party last took power in 2015, but nothing has been done there in that time.
The current Liberal government has pledged to sell the land beneath the clay cliffs for the development of up to 300 rental units – much needed as the area faces a housing shortage that has pushed up rents and property prices.
The site was formerly used to store fuel, and in 2016 it was discovered that the soil there was contaminated and needed remediation before the property could be tendered.
The government was ready to accept development proposals last spring. But landslides from the clay cliffs above the property called the safety of the site into question.
The government, working with the City of Whitehorse, said it would not accept bids from developers until the risks of future landslides in the area were assessed. The additional delay drew constant criticism from the Yukon Party in the Legislative Assembly last year.
This evaluation is now complete and the developers have until May 4th to submit their proposals for the lot.
The successful bid is now provided with conditions.
The developer who has been awarded the contract will need to construct a berm or natural barrier at the foot of the cliffs bounding the property to protect it from future landslides. It must also remove existing, dilapidated structures from the property and adhere to a permit that provides for safe development while contamination remains.
Depending on the planning of the developer, power lines may also have to be buried.
Lot has ‘incredible potential’ for housing, Premier says
Despite the delays, Prime Minister Ranj Pillai told the Legislative Assembly on Thursday that the Fifth and Rogers estate still had “incredible potential” to help alleviate the territory’s housing shortage.
“Our government is once again fulfilling our commitment to increase the housing supply in this area so that all Yukoners have a home,” he said.
“It’s something successive governments have talked about. We will continue.
Yukon NDP MLA Emily Tredger responded to PM testimony as third-party housing critic
“It’s a relief to see that this property will finally be available for development and I hope this will be the last we hear from Fifth and Rogers other than from new tenants telling their friends where to go.” they just moved to,” she said.
Pillai said delays were necessary to ensure the safety of future residents of the site.
Tredger added that the government should make affordability a priority for any future housing built there.
Affordability is one of several evaluation criteria against which development proposals are evaluated. Others involve costs, planning and working with First Nations. The bid with the highest score will be referred to a board of directors for final approval. If approved, the property will be sold for development.