Whitehorse Daily Star

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Pictured Above: JULIE JAI

Use of Whistle Bend trail surfaces at council

Motorized multi-use or non-motorized use? That is the question.

By Stephanie Waddell on May 30, 2017

Motorized multi-use or non-motorized use? That is the question.

At least, that was the main focus of questions about the paved perimeter trail in Whistle Bend during Monday’s city council meeting.

They arose in light of a staff report recommending council approve changes to the 2007 trail plan dealing with designations of paths through that neighbourhood as well as Porter Creek and Takhini.

The proposed changes would formally designate in the plan the McCauley Creek Crossing Trail in the Porter Creek neighbourhood and the paved trail around the Whistle Bend neighbourhood for motorized multi-use.

As noted by Marc Boulerice, the city’s parks supervisor, the proposal comes from a recommendation of the Whitehorse Trail and Greenway Committee which considered public input gathered through a task force formed to look at the trail plan for the Porter Creek, Whistle Bend and Takhini areas.

Public input was gathered using a meeting, survey and other tools last summer.

As council heard last night though, some in the Whistle Bend community don’t want motorized recreation happening on the neighbourhood’s perimeter trail despite more recent city documents that show it as a motorized multi-use route.

Julie Jai, who lives in the neighbourhood, addressed council at the beginning of last night’s meeting.

She was quick to point out the primary trail users use it as a place to go for a stroll or get from point A to point B in the neighbourhood without using a vehicle.

Jai said she knows of one older woman who takes her daily walk along the trail using a walker.

The woman is partially deaf. Hearing any oncoming dirt bikes, snow machines and the like on the trail could be difficult, Jai said.

She argued that labeling it as a motorized multi-use trail could encourage more motorized users to use the route.

Jai also pointed out the designation in the trail plan would go against the vision that was developed for Whistle Bend to be a pedestrian-friendly neighbourhood.

The Millennium Trail, which stretches along the Yukon River between the downtown area and Riverdale, is not open to motorized traffic, she pointed out.

The trail through Whistle Bend is that neighbourhood’s Millennium Trail, Jai added.

She urged council to vote against the recommendation.

Coun. Roslyn Woodcock was quick to note the trail is already designated for motorized use in other city documents that would require a change if the city were to decide motorized traffic was no longer permitted on the trail.

Boulerice later explained that two trails were envisioned for Whistle Bend. One was a multi-use motorized trail and the other was for non-motorized use.

The plans were later changed for one multi-use in an effort to save on costs.

“It’s not a trail intended for doing laps around the neighbourhood,” he said, noting it allows a route for users to get to out and away trails often used by motorized users.

Boulerice stated it was the developer – the Yukon government – that opted to alter the plans. Coun. Dan Boyd argued it is ultimately up to the city to approve development plans.

Meanwhile, Coun. Rob Fendrick noted he was at a charrette on the development of Whistle Bend and doesn’t recall there being any proposal for two trails.

“Two trails would solve the problem,” he said.

He asked that staff provide council with the documents showing the plans that were in place for two trails.

He also asked that council be provided with a list of other multi-use motorized trails.

Boyd also took issue with designation permitting motorized users on the trail.

He said he wanted to see a record showing that the trail has the motorized designation, as it seems that would create a lot of conflicts between motorized and non-motorized users.

“I have trouble with it logically,” Boyd said.

He suggested the neighbourhood’s streets could be used for riders of snow machines, dirt bike, ORVs and such to get to out and away trails, as is the case for other areas of the city.

The trail designation will come forward to council for a vote next week.

Coun. Betty Irwin was absent from last night’s meeting.

Comments (16)

Up 24 Down 2

Whitehorse is losing its name as a wilderness City on Jun 3, 2017 at 2:49 pm

Our City has to be inclusive of all its residents needs, not certain groups.

Up 23 Down 6

Roger on Jun 3, 2017 at 5:46 am

While I'm not offended by anyone using a motorized off road vehicle and I've had as much fun in them as the next person.
Not that I have seen people going past my house in an irresponsible manner but I think there is something to be said for a nice quiet walking trail near your house. Walking your dogs, children etc.

Up 23 Down 3

Change is Hard on Jun 2, 2017 at 4:21 pm

Before the city HAD to build WB, the lower bench PC contained miles & miles of trails. These trails were used by EVERYONE! motorized or not. I know because I used them (motored and not) for over 20 years. I'm still trying to get over the 'new neighbourhood' taking all those trails away, it's not easy!

Up 18 Down 12

Bandit on Jun 2, 2017 at 3:13 pm

I have been living in Whistlebend phase 2 since Nov. 2014. My house is beside a connector to the main perimeter trail which is only 40 yds +/- away from my property line. In my 2-1/2 years living here I can think of 2 or 3 times when a dirtbike went by too fast (and it probably was the same one) other than that I have witnessed many snowmobiles & ATVs using the trail responsibly, myself included.
I took the time to attend many of the Whistlebend trail planning committee meetings in 2016 and it was represented by all interested groups, it was advertised and invited anyone interested to attend. I personally asked Doug Hnatuik what was the intention of the perimeter trail and he told me it was designated MMU. "Out and away" to gain access to other trails outside of the subdivision, it is not being used as a track but rather to get out of the area.
Now to address some other comments:
1 - Stu Miner.
Sorry guy but that is not helping the cause to suggest we are safer having Impaired drivers off the roads and on the trails. It is just as illegal.
2 - Silver Lining.
I would like to know where your BS facts come from. "99% lack the proper licensing" I am offended that people shoot off their mouths without having a clue what they are talking about. For the record I am licensed, insured and hold a Safe ATV card and I use the Whistlebend trail system.

Up 26 Down 8

Why can't it be both? on Jun 2, 2017 at 1:35 pm

In Copper Ridge, there is a paved trail that is used for both foot traffic and motorized traffic. I use this trail frequently (non-motorized) and have never had a problem with motorized traffic. Typically those using the trails are conscious of the fact that it is multi use and operate their vehicles in a manner appropriate for the trail. You will always have a few fools and regardless of the designated use of the trail, this will not change. My children have been in more danger from crazy cyclists ripping around on the Millennium Trail near the campground than they have ever been with the motorized traffic on our local trail.

Respect each other and work together for a healthier community. We can all enjoy our Wilderness City.

Up 20 Down 2

Alan Trail on Jun 2, 2017 at 1:29 pm

I appreciate many of the sincere comments presented here. If you live near a greenbelt or an environmentally sensitive area there is an expectation that the city will protect your right to quiet enjoyment of your home and protect these special areas within the "Wilderness City".

If you use ATVs, skidoos or trail bikes you should have options to get out on the trails. And please note that ATV trails allow the use of side by sides thus they are now more a bush road that a trail. In most cases, your motorized vehicle right should be secondary to ensuring areas near homes are quiet and people's enjoyment of greenbelts is protected. You should be prepared to travel a little further on the road to get to an appropriate trail which is your right with the city bylaws.

The proposed MMU trail comes from a recommendation of the Whitehorse Trail and Greenway Committee which considered public input gathered through a task force formed to look at the trail plan for the Porter Creek, Whistle Bend and Takhini areas. Someone told me that three associations sitting on the Whitehorse Trail and Greenways Committee were also on the task force. Did these organizations challenge the task force recommendation because they were were not satisfied with what the task force came up with? Or, did they say they already voted on the issue and not vote because they did not want put their associations in a conflict of interest situation?

The city has to get to the bottom of this because this issue may demonstrate bias and lack of integrity of the Whitehorse Trail and Greenways Committee.

Up 15 Down 18

Max Mack on Jun 1, 2017 at 7:46 pm

ATVs should be allowed on all city trails with minor exceptions. Whitehorse is the wilderness city, or is it the "my own personal park city"?
I get the safety concerns. If that issue was important, the city would not allow bicycles on roadways. Tons of motorized steel meeting squishy flesh is never a good outcome.

I get the noise concerns. Except that major traffic routes are mere metres away, and jet planes, helicopters and turbo-prop planes are flying just overhead.
I even understand the hysteria about those evil fossil-fuel guzzling Morlocks mingling with the "earth-loving" Eloi. They're almost as bad as smokers! Perhaps we should ban the orcs to the outer fringes of the globe. Wouldn't that be satisfying?

Up 25 Down 13

No thanks on Jun 1, 2017 at 1:46 pm

Stu. On some sections on the trail people's back fence are literally right up against the trail. Imagine having dirtbikes and quads ripping past. Some of these machines are so loud you can hear them kilometers away.

Up 25 Down 20

Lynn Pigage on Jun 1, 2017 at 5:39 am

I support a plan to keep motorized vehicles off of the Whistle Bend paths. I want to feel safe when I take my 3 grandchildren on it.

Up 26 Down 17

Jenny Trapnell on May 31, 2017 at 6:04 pm

My son lives in Porter Creek and we often go for a walk on the WB perimeter trail, starting from the City's beautiful day use spot overlooking McIntyre Creek. There are several large signs near the paved trail noting the escarpment area is an environmentally sensitive area and ORVs are prohibited. It doesn't make sense to permit motor vehicles so close to homes and to this ESA. Like the Millennium Trail, I believe this perimeter trail will see more enjoyment by more people if it is non-motorized.

Up 28 Down 17

Silver Lining on May 31, 2017 at 2:21 pm

In response to “Stu Miner”, who is suggesting it’s better to have intoxicated ATV & snowmobile drivers on trails:
good example why the concept of motorized multi-use trails doesn’t work. Most ATV/snowmobile drivers couldn’t be bothered to get informed or follow the rules.
99% of them lack the required license plate when driving within the city or crossing streets and roads. And here’s one of them suggesting that they can drink and drive off-road-vehicles on city trails. For the record: if you drink, it’s against the law to drive ATVs or snowmobiles anywhere.

The City’s priority should be safety of pedestrians, i.e. a non-motorized designation for the WB perimeter trail so popular for pedestrians.

Up 23 Down 24

north_of_60 on May 31, 2017 at 1:24 pm

The only motorized access that should be allowed is for electric vehicles such as scooters and wheelchairs, so that disabled users can enjoy these areas.

Up 25 Down 26

Salar on May 31, 2017 at 1:16 pm

Folks are seriously lost when their sole existence is to ban someone driving a motorized vehicle....poor golfers are next...'no carts for you @^#&!/*$'s either'

Up 31 Down 27

David Griffiths on May 31, 2017 at 9:25 am

If motorized traffic is permitted on the Whistle Bend trail, it opens the door to motorized traffic on all the paved public access trails throughout the city. Sure there may be signage and such to designate which kind of traffic is allowed on a trail, but since when do people read signs? Keep all our community trails non-motorized.

Up 28 Down 14

Brenda Dion on May 31, 2017 at 12:10 am

Thank you Julie for challenging this. I was told by a motor bike user that the perimeter trail in WB has a motorized designation but I have yet to find a map that confirms that. Also from the report just released I read that most WB residents who participated in the trail use survey last summer were against having motorized vehicles on the perimeter trail? I am confused.
Julie has presented some very good points that support my observations of most folks using the trails....on foot, strollers, kids on bikes. It makes more sense to me that the perimeter trail is left nonmotorized and a route along Casca designated as MMU for folks wanting to travel on their dirt bikes, skidoos, 4 wheelers through the community.

Up 13 Down 31

Stu Miner on May 30, 2017 at 7:06 pm

I thought the trail planning was all about compromise.
A motorized trail so you can visit your neighbours while mostly staying on trails and there should be other motorized trails available between neighbourhoods.

If you want to visit your neighbour or go between neighbourhoods you can stay on trails and after drinking its much safer than having impaired drivers on the roads. This is how it seems to work where I live.

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