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Fight at Bartesko flares up again
TC Enterprises tries for fourth time to get density cap removed in order to build apartments

Candace Thomson
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 5, 2014

It could be another example of paving paradise to put up a parking lot - or in this case an apartment building.

The paradise in question is the forest tract across the street from Bartesko Court where developer TC Enterprises is hoping to erect a four-storey, 48-unit apartment building. The company owns the 36-unit apartment building already on the street, which was built when the zoning for the area was changed from one-family residential to medium-density housing.

The proposal for the second building was rejected three times since the construction of the first

apartment building in 2003, after council decided the development would negatively impact residents in the area.

Tony Chang, co-president of the company, attended the municipal services committee meeting at city hall on Monday to ask council for the fourth time to remove a density cap. The cap was placed on the area 10 to 15 years ago, according to Jefferey Humble, the city's director of planning and development, allowing only 36 units on the 1.2 hectare piece of land.

"I've been in Yellowknife for a long time, for probably about 40 years, and one of the things I've learned is when people move into Yellowknife they will rent before they'll buy," Chang said.

"Most people think, 'Well, we want to move out of Yellowknife so we're just going to go short term.'

"Most people coming in will want to rent, but there is nothing to rent now, and they will not stay and again we will not get the jobs."

Residents in the area would rather no apartment building be built at all, as shown by the 24 written submissions and petition with 151 signatures submitted to the city, all against the development. Eleven people showed up to witness the discussion surrounding the proposed amendment, with two of them addressing council with passionate speeches against the development.

Brian Desjardins was the first to speak out against the development, saying the lack of green space would hurt the neighbourhood.

"This is not about being in my backyard and affecting the market value of my property, this is about planning and smart growth," said Desjardins.

"This is about a densely populated area, why populate it even more and take away what green space we have."

Chang, however, had made it clear early in his presentation that the area in question isn't green space, and

one way or another, as the owner, he intends to develop it.

"If the city doesn't really want this then that's fine with us, but I'm telling you the land will not stay regardless of if this goes or not," said Chang.

"We're going to fence it, cut the trees down and make a parking lot for the tenants. That's what it'll become, it'll be a parking lot, with storage and everything for the residents of the building right now.

"The whole thing is going to be boxed in and we'll make a storage area out of it, so they can have that, or they can have a building. Whichever one, it doesn't matter to me."

Bob McKay, who lives on Borden Drive near the existing Bartesko Court apartment building, said he is worried about noise.

"There have been many, many, many nights that I have been woken up at two and three and four o'clock in the morning from people coming from and going into the existing apartment building," said McKay.

While no decision can be made until the issue is brought to a council meeting for a vote, a few of the councillors did voice their opinions.

"Over the next 10 years we plan on bringing in 1,500 homes in various sizes, shapes and price points," said city councillor Cory Vanthuyne.

"Specifically for target intensification, and I'll note that the entire Borden area is already highly intensified and is not shown to be a

priority of council for development over the next 10 years."

Coun. Rebecca Alty supports the development and said she knows from experience that the rental housing marking in Yellowknife is "pitiful."

"The apartment market has definitely been neglected," Alty said.

At the end of the two-hour-long discussion, councillors directed administration to work with TC

Enterprises and arrive at

a proposal for an apartment building of between 12 to 36 units, while consulting with area residents.

"We can then make a decision knowing that an effort has been made to have a discussion with all parties," Mayor Mark Heyck said in closing.

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