Neighbour frustrated by years-long project to clean up Whitehorse property

Heavy equipment and debris are visible on a longstanding polluted site on Lodgepole Lane, near the Porter Creek neighbourhood in Whitehorse. (Kimpton Gagnon - image credit)
Heavy equipment and debris are visible on a longstanding polluted site on Lodgepole Lane, near the Porter Creek neighbourhood in Whitehorse. (Kimpton Gagnon - image credit)

It's been a long-running headache for residents on Lodgepole Lane in Whitehorse: a derelict house and property laden with garbage and leaking oil drums.

Officials with the City of Whitehorse say they're nearing the final cleanup of the site in Porter Creek, but Kimpton Gagnon, who lives nearby, is running out of patience.

"I'm tired," he said. "I'm very disappointed in the quality of the service of the city."

The property has been an issue for years. Gagnon, who's lived in the neighbourhood for four years, says it's still an eyesore.

"There are two or three massive piles of demolition and garbage that they've piled up. One looks like some metal and some of it is wood and lots of dirt that's just all piled up on top of itself," he said.

"It's just a disaster and there's fuel drums everywhere and and you can smell the contamination coming off the property."

Krista Mroz, the city's director of community services, told council Monday the piles are "reflective of the sorting efforts that have taken place" on the property.

"It's certainly moving a little more slowly than we'd like, but this file has been open for a good number of years now and we've seen more progress in the last four months than we have in the last two years," she said.

Mroz also said the plan is to clean up the property, knock down the house, then, eventually, remediate the soil. But she said there's no timeline yet for that to happen.

Old barrels filled with unknown substances are still visible on the Lodgepole Lane site. The city says the property does not meet the threshold of a contaminated site, but an email from the territorial environment department contradicts that.
Old barrels filled with unknown substances are still visible on the Lodgepole Lane site. The city says the property does not meet the threshold of a contaminated site, but an email from the territorial environment department contradicts that.

Old barrels filled with unknown substances are still visible on the Lodgepole Lane site. The city says the property does not meet the threshold of a contaminated site, but an email from the territorial environment department contradicts that. (Kimpton Gagnon)

Responding to questions from Coun. Ted Laking, Mroz acknowledged the leaking oil on the property looks bad.

"But the contamination on the property doesn't meet the threshold of designating this as a contaminated site," she said.

Documents from Environment Yukon, supplied by Gagnon to CBC News, appear to contradict that statement.

"The property is listed and considered contaminated as defined by the Environment Act and Contaminated Sites Regulation (CSR)," reads one email from the department.

"Soil samples collected in 2020 contained petroleum hydrocarbon concentrations greater than the applicable standards. The surface-water sample collected on the property in the spring (2022) was also contaminated."

The email goes on to say the department is considering its legal options and that there are no plans to remediate the site.

Gagnon said he's tired of waiting for the city to clean up the property.

"I thought the City of Whitehorse had bylaws and regulations and standards and that people were required to adhere to those bylaws and standards," he said. "And that's what I expected the city to enforce."