City council voted Monday to bring forward a zoning amendment to accommodate a two-storey office building on Black Street proposed by the Yukon Association of Education Professionals.
Under the existing mixed use waterfront zoning, property owners are restricted to using a maximum of 50 percent of the ground floor as office space. It also requires the building to have at least two uses.
The association representing teachers and other education professionals has asked for an amendment that would allow it to use the entire building for its required office space.
The amendment request also includes less-restrictive requirements for window sizes.
Council voted unanimously to bring forward the bylaw needed to approve the amended zoning.
Association president Ted Hupé explained in an interview Tuesday the association has owned the property next to the new Black Street fire hall for 10 years.
He explained the association requires the zoning amendment because it does not fit the mold of a typical business.
The way it is now, he said, the bylaw wants business and retail space to be incorporated into the design.
“But we are a not-for-profit entity and we can’t rent out space,” he said.
Hupé said if the zoning amendments are passed by council this summer, the association would begin construction as soon as it can.
It would like to be in the new building within 18 months to two years, he said.
“The contractor tells us if we can get the zoning amendments this summer, he can build it in a year,” Hupé said.
“I am always cautiously optimistic, but if we can get in there in 18 months, I would be happy about that.”
He said it’s too early in the project proposal to share the approximate cost of the building.
The lot, Hupé pointed out, is directly across Second Avenue from the Yukon Council of First Nations and a stone’s throw from the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Center.
Hupé described the area as a First Nations cultural hub.
“We want to be there,” he said.
He said staff are planning what they’re referring to as a reconciliation garden on site, with native shrubs and plants.
The association wants to be a good neighbor, he added.
The administrative report provided to council last week notes the building would accommodate up to 10 staff and provide space for meetings and training opportunities for teachers to use outside school hours.
Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu asked at Monday’s meeting whether approving the zoning amendments for the proposal would set a precedent for future requests for zoning amendments in the mixed use waterfront zone.
But senior officials said approving the amendments would not set a precedent; that future applications for zoning amendments would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.