Yukon government looks to sell off former site of seniors' home in Whitehorse

Macaulay Lodge in Whitehorse closed in February 2019 and has since been torn down. The Yukon government hopes to sell the site this year and is asking the City of Whitehorse to re-zone the property for commercial and residential use. (Paul Tukker/CBC - image credit)
Macaulay Lodge in Whitehorse closed in February 2019 and has since been torn down. The Yukon government hopes to sell the site this year and is asking the City of Whitehorse to re-zone the property for commercial and residential use. (Paul Tukker/CBC - image credit)

The Yukon government is looking to sell off the former site of a seniors home in Whitehorse, and that's prompted some people to weigh in on how the site in Riverdale should be used.

The Klondike Road property was once the site of Macaulay Lodge before that facility was torn down last year. Now the territorial government is asking the City of Whitehorse for a zoning amendment so the property can be sold as a commercial and residential property. It's currently zoned as a Public Services property, and protected greenbelt.

If the city approves the zoning change, the lot could be developed with commercial business on the ground floor and housing on any upper floors.

According to Kristina Craig of the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, the potential for more housing is good news and she's not against the zoning change. But she urges planners to consider the need for affordable housing.

"We see that affordability is a need, we see that there's a valuable piece of land that could be used for housing folks who are low-income or facing other challenges," she told city councillors at a public hearing this week about the zoning application.

"And we just hope that that's part of the consideration that you give when you're looking at the zoning changes."

Frank Bachmier of the Yukon Council on Aging also addressed the public hearing, urging officials to delay any decision about re-zoning the lot. Bachmier argued that the property should continue to be used the way it was when Macaulay Lodge was still operating — for seniors' housing.

"To sell it off to private enterprise to build a commercial situation is just out of the question," Bachmier told councillors.

"It's going to end up with high-end condos, to justify a profit for the operation."

The Yukon Housing Corporation (YHC), which is now responsible for the property, said in an emailed statement that "ensuring seniors have adequate housing remains a priority for this government."

The YHC also pointed to Normandy Living, a private, independent-living complex for seniors being built in Whitehorse's Takhini neighbourhood that it says will "fill a gap" in seniors' housing.

The zoning amendment is expected to be back before council for second reading next month. The territorial government hopes to sell the lot through a tender in the spring.