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Speak out against plans to allow vehicles on footbridge

Speak out against plans to allow vehicles on footbridge To all users of the Millennium Trail and Rotary Centennial Bridge: Active Trails Whitehorse Association urges the city to maintain the pedestrian status of the Rotary Centennial Bridge and all porti

To all users of the Millennium Trail and Rotary Centennial Bridge:

Active Trails Whitehorse Association urges the city to maintain the pedestrian status of the Rotary Centennial Bridge and all portions of the Millennium Trail.

The Rotary Centennial Bridge was planned, designed and funded as a pedestrian bridge specifically to promote active living and reduce greenhouse gases.

The following have stated their opposition to the proposed motorization: the Riverdale Community Association, Downtown Residents’ Association, Porter Creek Community Association, Crestview Community Association, Wolf Creek Community Association, the Yukon Bird Club, Active Trails Whitehorse Association, the Whitehorse Rotary Club, the Rendezvous Rotary Club of Whitehorse, and Doug Hamilton.

The Whitehorse Rotary Club, the Rendezvous Rotary Club and Doug Hamilton were major sponsors of the bridge.

Many people don’t realize that opening the bridge to offroad vehicle traffic would mean that portions of the Millennium Trail on each side would also have to be motorized, in order to allow offroad vehicles to access the bridge. These portions include several blind corners and narrow sections.

In addition, new motorized trails would be cut through greenbelts on both sides of the Yukon River to provide motorized access to the Millennium Trail and its footbridge. All of this would be done through one of the most popular and scenic portions of the Millennium Trail. Motorized users would also need to cross Robert Service Way and Nisutlin Drive to get to the Millennium Trail.

The city has a responsibility to fully inform residents of all implications prior to contemplating changing the status of public assets as important as the Rotary Centennial Bridge and the Millennium Trail.

Motorization will involve significant costs. Typically, motorized trails are more expensive to establish and maintain than non-motorized trails. City resources would be better used for other critical priorities.

It is possible that the city may propose a trial motorization of the bridge and adjacent Millennium Trail. Such a trial would involve significant costs to the public and will expose citizens to summer and winter offroad vehicle use of this city showcase trail.

There is no compelling reason to motorize the Rotary Centennial Bridge and portions of the Millennium Trail. There are already significant networks of accessible motorized trails on either side of the river. A large number of motorized users have the means to transport their offroad vehicles “out and away.”

We have heard the argument that Rotary Centennial Bridge and Millennium Trail users should share this city showcase trail with offroad vehicle operators. However, sharing should not mean the degradation of the experience presently enjoyed by current users, and the potential increase in their exposure to injury. That’s not what we feel sharing is all about.

We are sure that many responsible offroad vehicle operators enjoy the bridge and Millennium Trail as walkers, runners, or cyclists, and recognize that the Millennium Trail should remain off-limits to off-road vehicles.

The bridge celebrates its 10th anniversary in July. Let’s give it a well-deserved present and maintain its non-motorized designation.

We urge concerned residents to send written comments to mayorandcouncil@whitehorse.ca, and to speak up at the 5:30 p.m. city hall meeting of April 7.

Rob McClure

Patrick Milligan

Active Trails Whitehorse Association