Over 100 years of evolution
Up until 1907, Takhini Hot Springs was owned and controlled by First Nations people. Jim Boss was the traditional owner in 1907 when ownership was illegally “confisgated” by the Canadian Government. During the remainder of the 1900’s a variety of owners ran the hot springs. In 1957, a raging wildfire razed Takhini to the ground. Later, redevelopment included the government putting in the Hotsprings Road, thereby creating access to the many landowners one now finds out on the Hotsprings Road and River Road. Thanks to the hot springs, many people moved into the area, many farms were created, and a vibrant new rural suburb of Whitehorse was created.
Turn of the Millennium: Re-zoning; subdivision; consolidation
December 1998 – Negotiations to buy 100% of the hot springs shares
– a group of 18 shareholders negotiate the purchase of 100% of the shares of Takhini Hot Springs Ltd. The group grows to 45 shareholders over the next 5 years. The group has diverse interests including business investment, business operations, cohousing and community development.
April 1st, 1999 A large group of new shareholders take over
– the new shareholders take possession of the hot springs on the same day as Nunavut becomes the 3rd territory of Canada. The blue moon was visible that evening.
2001 – 2006 Land use planning and updated area regulations
– The hot springs engages in internal business planning, land use planning, perma-culture planning, strategic planning, etc. In order to create a comprehensive development plan. The master plan for the property is essentially created in this period.
– THS participates in the area land use planning exercise by sitting on the government’s steering committee. Once the hot springs road area land use plan is complete, new regulations are created to implement the plan. The most significant changes for the hot springs are:
1. the CR (commercial recreational) zoning designation is changed to CMT (commercial mixed tourism accommodation)
2. the CMT designation allows for 2 key provisions:
i) the introduction of the word “resort” as a permitted use, with the definition of resort inserted into the definitions of the area land use regulations (“resort” means a comprehensively planned and operated development offering tourist facilities and attractions in a location chosen for the unique qualities and attributes of its natural and physical setting. Appropriate uses of a resort area include but are not limited to: visitor and staff accommodation; indoor and outdoor recreational uses; learning and health facilities such as health spas and tennis courts; convention and conference centre; retail and personal services; restaurants; and accessory uses and buildings)
ii) a transfer of residential capacity provision is added to the regulations to reflect the desire of the hot springs corporation to “increase their capacity for residential development as part of their business planning, which is in progress at the time of Plan preparation. They wish to concentrate their residential development at a higher density than other rural residential designations to conserve commercial lands, preserve the trails and wilderness character of the area and allow for innovative, energy and cost efficient designs in keeping with their commercial redevelopment planning. They are planning to phase residential development in over a 10 to 20 year period.” (from the area land use plan, 9.4, page 58)1.
The new regulation states, “Landowners of several contiguous properties zoned as Commercial Mixed Use/Tourist Accommodation may be able to consolidate the residential development potential of these properties in a single lot, subject to the conditions addressed within the Hotsprings Road Local Area Plan, amended from time to time.”
March 2008 The minority shareholders buy out the majority shareholders, start of a new era
– Difficulties in arriving at a common vision for the property and an inability to achieve a working governance approach and make “business progress” for the corporation results in strife that ultimately gets resolved through the creation of a shotgun clause, with the 11 minority shareholders (45% of the shares) buying out the majority shareholders (55% of the shares). The new group closes the facility and renovates the ageing facility for the next 3 1/2 months prior to re-opening and operating from a more standard corporate model.
– The first rezoning application is submitted in September 2008. A long and very drawn out process of rezoning begins.
2009 – 2011 Detailed planning through the Yukon Business Development Program
– The hot springs embarks upon a business model verification and fine-tuning process by engaging with experts from around the world who come for several days and provide their expertise as part of a Business Advisory Board. At the end of the process, a clear business planning document is produced, focussing on the development of a new hot springs facility, and from there, it is determined that the role of the hot springs corporation is to facilitate the development of the resort by working with entrepreneurs and investors who purchase land and set up businesses.
2010 – 2011 Subdividing the hot springs properties and re-organizing land holdings from 4 lots to 10 lots
– While waiting for rezoning, the hot springs owners re-organize the lot boundaries under the existing regulations in order to locate businesses on separate lots. The campground is consolidated so it only operates on one of the newly formed lots (as opposed to being spread out on 3 of the 4 lots prior to subdividing), the existing pool facility has its lot lines adjusted so that the lot line does not slice the pool in half, and the retreat center has lot lines created so it does not span 2 lots. In all 10 lots are created out of the 4 lots.
2013 – 2016 Sale of 6 of 10 hot springs lots, which results in creating the resort community
– THS starts selling lots to further implement its master development plan and create a resort community. In order to ensure the integrity of the resort, a planned community charter is written up, and the new owners buying lots essentially buy into master development plan by way of being part of an Owners Association that is charged with the responsibility of ensuring the planned community charter is adhered to. The charter carefully balances development rights of lot owners with common sense rules regarding beautifying the resort through the prevention of clutter, pollution, and by protecting greenbelts and parkland, etc.
– The Yukon government contacts the hot springs corporation and requires THS to sign a development agreement that outlines on which lots residential development will occur. With 2 residences allowed per lot, and with 10 lots, this means that the hot springs is required to show the government how they intend to use the transfer provision for residential capacity, resulting in a development agreement that shows on which lots the 20 residences will be located.
– A Hot Springs Resort Trails Society is formed to administer the newly established trail system, consisting of a 3.72 km, 4 meter wide, loop system and a trail to the top of Hot Springs Mountain.
– The Master Development Plan is signed off by all new lot owners and the hot springs corporation. The plan maintains the original concepts from 1999, namely that the hot springs will be redeveloped based upon the core concepts of re-developing the hot springs facilities, and building a residential community that is based on a more ecologically focused lifestyle.
– While still waiting for rezoning, the owner of Lot 1539 sets up the first conventional (strata) condominium corporation, followed by lot 1536 setting up the 2nd condominium corporation. The approach of developing condominium corporations becomes part of the process of building the resort community by introducing condominium unit owners on these properties. More properties enter into the planning process for condominium development.
– The Yukon Astronomical Society decides to set up facilities at the hot springs, starting with an observatory and observation deck.
– New facilities are constructed, including: a 20 bed hostel and campground building with manager’s residence, 2 vacation homes, and 3 residences. Construction starts on the new hot pool facility.
– The hot springs corporation opts to subdivide its remaining large parcel (31 hectares) into three 10 hectare parcels and to consolidate lots 1540 and 1095 into one large 20 hectare parcel.
– An Investment Website called Yukon Hot Springs Ltd. is set up in order to solicit new investments and new entrepreneurs to the property. The website features the master plan and highlights the existing developments on the property. Its focus is to present the unique attributes of Takhini as an aspiring world-class resort property.
2017 – Work starts on the new hot springs facility. It is to be a world class Nordic Spa with several Japanese Onsen pools. Work begins constructing the Relax Room building. Evergreen Homes completes building the 3 homes as part of the condominium corporation on lot 1536. Springhills experiences success with its first vacation chalet and continues work on its 2nd vacation chalet.
2018 – In July, after rezoning applications spanning 9 years and 10 months, Takhini Hot Springs Ltd. and all land owners at Takhini Hot Springs finally receive a rezoning that allows them to create bare land condominium corporations in addition to the already permitted conventional (strata) condominium corporations. This significantly reduces the complexity and cost of condiminium development for all lot owners at Takhini. Development roadblocks are essentially removed, and lot owners at Takhini are free to now continue development in line with the master plan. Takhini Hot Springs Ltd. continues contracting with Evergreen Homes, and begins construction of 8 new dwelling units.
2019 – Development planning results in new construction projects starting in the spring:
– to be updated
Up to the spring of 2019, a total of around 7 million dollars of improvements have been completed, and another 8 million dollars of construction are currently in progress.
Looking toward 2030
Knowing what the future will bring is never a certainty, but Takhini is well poised to make substantial progress in the coming years. Communities grow in response to a number of factors, and economic opportunities are a key part of the development puzzle. A near constant theme at Takhini is that the Yukon is increasingly being recognized as one of the bright lights in global tourism. Based on an excellent location so close to Whitehorse, and given the strong growth in visitation at Takhini and the neighbouring Yukon Wildlife Preserve, one can look towards 2030 and begin to see just how much development is likely to occur at Takhini Hot Springs. The fact that there are now multiple investors building on several properties with new businesses and services being established every year now for the past 4 years is a clear indication that the future looks bright indeed!