Mt. Mac recreation area needs protection

Mt. Mac recreation area needs protection Whitehorse is blessed with an abundance of green spaces, but surely one of the standouts is the Mt. McIntyre trail network Ð more than 75 kilometres of trails in a wilderness setting, expertly designed and groome

Whitehorse is blessed with an abundance of green spaces, but surely one of the standouts is the Mt. McIntyre trail network Ð more than 75 kilometres of trails in a wilderness setting, expertly designed and groomed for cross-country skiing in the winter and used by mountain bikers, runners, orienteerers, hikers and others during the rest of the year for healthy outdoor exercise, training and competition. There are options for all ages and abilities.

Countless volunteer hours and in-kind donations from local businesses have been used for improving and maintaining the trails.

A huge amount of money from Lotteries, Community Development Fund and city rec grants has been spent to develop the trails and facilities at Mt. Mac.

That investment over the last 30 years has resulted in more than 1,300 city residents buying season passes for the ski trails last year, and at least 2,000 day passes.

School groups from most Whitehorse schools also used the trails for $1 per visit.

The ski club hosts numerous races and events on the Mt. Mac trails. The racing trails were designed to meet national and international standards. In March 2010, the club will host the National XC Ski Championships, a weeklong event expected to generate up to $380,000 in financial benefits to the city and territory.

The Mt. Mac trails are used year-round. They are home to the annual 24 Hours of Light Mountain Bike Festival, and a new skills park for mountain bikes that is already popular with younger riders. The new disc-golf course premiered this year to great reviews. The Yukon Orienteering Association holds its junior training on the Mt. Mac trails.

The Mt. Mac Recreation Centre and the Canada Games Centre, along with the trails, are part of a centrally located recreation node accessible via regular bus service. This is unique in Canada and will be featured in a national magazine this winter.

Most of the trails are on land owned by the Yukon government, and the ski club has a licence of occupation to use and maintain them. The land is designated by the Official Community Plan as “Outdoor Recreation” which is the strongest protection that the OCP provides. But that can be changed at any time by city council. As Whitehorse grows, there is more pressure to develop available land.

About 7 per cent of the trail system is on privately owned land. The club recently signed a lease agreement with ATCO that gives us permission to use their land for at least the next five years. A small portion of ATCO land was sold to Raven’s Ridge Developments for the new subdivision, but both companies worked with the ski club to reroute the 10K in a way that ensured the best possible outcome.

Most of the trail system is staked with mineral claims. There has been mining and exploration on and around the trail network since it was developed, mainly because it happens to be sitting very close to the Copper Belt.

In fact, Copper Trail was used as an exploration trail many years ago. And the World Cup 10K was developed by local mining contractors, such as Coyne and Sons.

In spite of this history the club’s position is that city land use and needs have changed over the years. Now it makes sense that land that has been designated as recreational, residential or institutional should be removed from mineral staking.

The city could ask the territorial government to withdraw these lands from disposition as well as from subsurface mineral exploration and development.

I’m sure that the city and territorial governments and the ski club, along with private landowners and exploration companies can continue to work together to preserve this world class trail system.

Regardless of who is voted in on Thursday, the club will work in co-operation with the mayor, council and city planners to ensure the wisest use of the land.

Mike Gladish, manager, Whitehorse Cross-Country Ski Club


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read