Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for January 28, 2014

City council approves trail designations

Debate over the use of trails continues, but the city is plowing forward with the implementation of its trail plan on the east side of the Yukon River.

By Stephanie Waddell on January 28, 2014 at 4:25 pm

photo

Photo by Whitehorse Star

Pictured above: NANCY THOMPSON

Debate over the use of trails continues, but the city is plowing forward with the implementation of its trail plan on the east side of the Yukon River.

Council approved trail designations on the east side of the river in the Riverdale area at its meeting Monday night, but not before a number of members recognized that there will continue to be issues around how the trails are used.

“It doesn’t have to mean this is the end of the process,” Coun. Betty Irwin said before voting in favour of the trail designations which labels trails for motorized or non-motorized use.

As the plan is implemented and the city learns what works, the plan is likely to change as needs are identified.

This, she said, incorporates a number of compromises that were made by the committee tasked with the designation.

The views of numerous trail users were acknowledged by council as they stated the need to balance the interest of all who like to head out whether they drive snowmobiles, ride bicycles, motor around on ATVs or dirt bikes, make tracks with their skis or just meander along in the woods.

As Coun. Kirk Cameron recalled from his days growing up in Riverdale he used the trails all year whether he was on skis, a dirt-bike, skidoo or using his own feet to get around.

And he said he doesn’t recall any major conflicts between users who shared the trails.

“It’s about respect,” he said, noting there needs to be an understanding that there are a variety of trail users.

“That’s an incredible asset we have,” he said of the trail network.

The discussion among council came following presentations by various non-motorized users.

Keith Lay of Active Trails Whitehorse Association, Sierra van der Meer of the Contagious Mountain Bike group and Nancy Thompson of the Trail and Ultra Running Association of the Yukon addressed council with individual presentations prior to council’s own discussion and vote on the matter.

Lay argued there are contradictions in city bylaws that will mean snowmobiles are not required to stay on trails designated only for motorized use and asked that regulations be changed so that snowmobiles only be permitted to use out and away trails. Both van der Meer and Thompson argued in favour of more shared trail use.

van der Meer noted that being a non-motorized trail user doesn’t necessarily mean being “anti-motorized” and sharing many of the trails could mean a stronger trail network where more people are available to help another if they run into problems.

“I am not saying that sharing is easy,” she said, then arguing that it should not be a matter of motorized or non-motorized trails.

“We are talking about City of Whitehorse trails,” she said.

Similarly, Thompson said that while runners enjoy the trails, they don’t have a problem sharing them with motorized users.

While some trails aren’t wide enough to accommodate motorized traffic, Thompson said the presumption that non-motorized trail users are against motorized traffic on the trail system doesn’t do any good.

She said she welcomes the opportunity for all to use the trail and would favour a more egalitarian approach to the use, noting that the Klondike Snowmobile Association, which often lays the tracks on many trails through the winter, is a good example of stewardship provided by motorized users.

Thompson also cited a ski trail in the Chadburn Lake area that could be wide enough to accommodate ATV use through the summer months.

Council was unanimous in its decision to go ahead with the designations, with a number of council members acknowledging it as a start and that over time plans can change.

Coun. Dave Stockdale was away from council last night as his medical leave continues.

CommentsAdd a comment

Northone

Jan 28, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Finally, a vestige of balance in the whole trail non-motorized vs. motorized issue.

Kudos to City Council and some user groups for acknowledging that our trails are for all users and to be shared, not the exclusive preserve of a minority who shout and complain the loudest.

Stan

Jan 29, 2014 at 11:31 am

“van der Meer noted that being a non-motorized trail user doesn’t necessarily mean being “anti-motorized” and sharing many of the trails could mean a stronger trail network where more people are available to help another if they run into problems.”

Recent surveys and other documents indicate non-motorized trail users want separation from noisy skidoos and trail bikes etc and they feel its not safe to share trails with them.

“Similarly, Thompson said that while runners enjoy the trails, they don’t have a problem sharing them with motorized users.” I run and Nancy certainly does not represent my views.

“While some trails aren’t wide enough to accommodate motorized traffic, Thompson said the presumption that non-motorized trail users are against motorized traffic on the trail system doesn’t do any good.” This statement alarms me because I took part in a city survey and have seen the results. People have clearly said they want separation from motorized vehicles and they also do not want these vehicles in their greenspaces. Just look at what the Riverdale residents have said.

Yukoner

Jan 29, 2014 at 2:37 pm

I’m a Riverdale resident and I have no problem with all using the trails. I have also taken people home with sprained ankles that can’t walk and yes that was with a motorized machine. I also have given cyclist air for flat tires and left them with the means to get home from cantle when there tires go flat every 15 mins. Yes you guessed it, I was on a machine I also gave them my phone number to call when they get out because if they didn’t call I would go back in and make sure they get home.  So the next time your standing on the trail with a bear in front of you hoping someone with a machine would come by, remember you didn’t want us on the trail. @ Stan some day when your in need of help and it’s the guy on the machine that comes along make sure you tell him who you are and why you’d rather stay lying in the bush.

Mike

Jan 29, 2014 at 3:51 pm

So, I will be allowed to operate my ATV on only a few select trails near Riverdale which I can accept as compromise.

But people who use skidoos can go anywhere under the same City planning process. This does not make sense to me. If ATVs are restricted in specific trails then the same rules should apply for skidoos.

Amazed

Jan 30, 2014 at 8:32 am

Boggles the mind how much tax payer money has been spent on this City Trail issue.  Over and Over and Over again.  Just to get people to Share.  Someone needs a time out!

Too funny

Jan 31, 2014 at 11:44 am

@STAN… Why don’t you stay at home reading and studying and filling out surveys and those of us who want to actually get out and make use of the trails will do so however we please, with respect and courtesy of course. It’s folks like you who just make me laugh.

Groucho d'North

Jan 31, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Mike.
A key difference between ATVs and snowmobiles is the condition of the trail they leave behind. A sled leaves a nice smooth track that’s easy to walk in. An ATV leaves ruts that make walking difficult and unsafe sometimes.
And for the record, I own both sleds and ATVs and I walk the trails as well.

Horses are still the worst for screwing up walking trails.

dorothy lebel

Feb 3, 2014 at 3:13 am

Several City surveys over the past few years have ALL indicated that the GREAT MAJORITY of residents want non-motorized trails SEPARATE from motorized trails, and only a minimum of motorized trails to get the ORVs out of the local greenspaces.  Most residents don’t like the idea of a motorized trail next to their home.  That’s because ORVs have impacts:  noise, dust, exhaust fumes, damaged landscape, and safety hazard. 
The people have spoken.  Check it out in the comments section of the Sept 2013 EYR trail survey results (Riverdale area) which are on the City’s website.  Here’s the link:  http://whitehorse.ca/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=3841

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