a well trammeled legacy

On Sunday, more than 120 bold souls took part in the Whitehorse Triathlon. The first wave hit the pool shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday.

On Sunday, more than 120 bold souls took part in the Whitehorse Triathlon.

The first wave hit the pool shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday.

After that, kibitzers and supportive friends and family could see these impressive, oft-amateur athletes biking down the highway (into a harsh wind) and, eventually, sprinting, running, fast-walking and chuffing up Hamilton Boulevard along the city’s multi-use trail.

It was impressive to watch.

And many did.

For the spectators, that last stage — along that great Hamilton trail — was the easiest to monitor.

These paved trails — they now stretch from the Copper Ridge subdivision to Riverdale and along the Yukon River and around the airport, providing a conduit for runners, walkers, bikers, rollerbladers to access the wilder trails, including the Trans-Canada Trail, that stretch into the boreal forest from both subdivisions — haven’t been around all that long. Just a couple of years.

But in that relatively short time they have become one of the community’s greatest assets.

They have changed the way the community works.

People commute to work along them. They use them over lunch hour, on weekends and for sporting events on the weekend.

When they were first proposed, people groused they would destroy the natural habitat and would drive away birds and wildlife.

Many argued the existing dirt trails were fine. That paved trails were unnecessary.

Well, a few years into the experiment the fears appear unfounded.

There is little talk about bird habitat destruction today.

In fact, the paved trails have actually helped preserve the fragile environment along Riverdale’s waterfront.

That’s more remarkable because use of the area has increased since the trails were put in.

Today, because of those trails, the city is more active and environmentally sound.

And sporting events, like this weekend’s triathlon, are easier to stage. And to watch.

The trail system has quickly become one of the city’s treasures.

City staff and politicians deserve credit for seeing the potential of this oft-controversial capital project and for making it happen.

It is a legacy for which they can be proud. (RM)