The lack of tolerance and respect that some people and groups have for the recreational pursuits of fellow Yukoners has become quite appalling. As an owner of a business selling snowmobiles, motorcycles and ATVs, I enjoy the use of these products and the Yukon is an ideal setting for the utilization of these recreational vehicles.
Cross-country skiing, golf and mountain biking are other outdoor activities that I enjoy and I love to ski as much as I love to snowmobile. On occasion, when I am out sledding, I have had skiers shake their fist at me, in the mountains. I think of those occasions when I tolerate the rabid biker holding up traffic on the bridge out of Riverdale, at 40 below. Even though a case could be made that these cyclists should be banned as a traffic hazard, particularly in the winter, I respect their right to pursue their own activity.
Leading the charge of intolerance lately are the city of Whitehorse and special interest groups that are trying to legislate ATVs to death. The city thinks that it is a good idea to bring in the toughest registration laws in Canada and the special interest groups want to protect their private areas in the middle of publicly owned land. If the present city council put the same effort into controlling spending that they have in making new bylaws that they cannot enforce, we would be much farther ahead.
My commercial city taxes have gone up 50 per cent in the last five years and now the city wants to further decimate sales of recreational products that have been in decline for years. The city of Whitehorse is advocating insurance and registration of ATVs for the citizen who simply wants to plough his driveway or take the occasional ride. What’s next Ã liability insurance on lawn tractors? This overzealous legislation doesn’t exist in other western communities in Canada - why here?
Hopefully, the territorial committee overseeing the development of legislation around ATV use will think of the damage to the economy that could result from overly prohibitive legislation. The city of Whitehorse has weighed in with its recommendation about registration and insurance on ATVs, without considering the unintended consequences to the economy of the Yukon.
The Yukon needs a plan to encourage a more vibrant private sector. Typically, legislation restricts growth and will inhibit our ability to pay our own way in Canada. When a mining company wants to explore in the Yukon they will perhaps look elsewhere if the ATV they want to use for exploration has onerous restrictions on its use. If Alaska, British Columbia and resource-rich Alberta do not have these restrictions why would a prospective mining company come here?
There is a decision to be made in the Yukon as to whether we always want to be federal welfare bums or hold our heads high and eventually contribute to Canada. We need an expanded private sector that provides from our own tax base. Unfortunately, that will never happen if the city of Whitehorse (our commercial hub) and special interest groups bury business in unnecessary legislation.
Growth is looked at far differently in the South. The massive cities of Canada that expand factories, housing and highways onto some of the best farmland in North America, do it with barely a whimper of protest. An ATV driving through a mud hole in the Yukon, however, generates a storm of protest. Let’s give our toques a twirl in the North and allow that avid ATVer their pleasure on the trails, and when we see that rabid biker on the Yukon River bridge at 40 below, holding up traffic - give them a smile. The Yukon was born of mining and has always been a haven for people of alternate lifestyles. The same tolerance and respect we show each other for our social differences should also extend to our recreational activities.
Brian Edelman, owner
Listers Motor Sports