ATV plans stuck in the mud

Many agree the damage done by all-terrain vehicles to Yukon's hinterland is a problem, but territorial politicians have been timid with proposing solutions.

Many agree the damage done by all-terrain vehicles to Yukon’s hinterland is a problem, but territorial politicians have been timid with proposing solutions.

That’s despite the work of an all-party committee, which examined this thorny problem and, in a report released in late March, proposed new laws be developed that would restrict ATV use in sensitive areas.

Trails Only Yukon, a pressure group that promotes ATV regulation, wants the government to introduce a temporary ban on cutting new trails until new regulations are in place.

They also want the government to require ATV users to register and plate their vehicles, so that scofflaws can be identified.

And they want territorial politicians to commit to act on the matter, rather than continue dithering.

The Yukon Party’s official position can be summarized with one word: crickets. Since the report’s release, the governing party has said nary a word on their plans on what to do next.

Calls to Premier Dennis Fentie and Environment Minister John Edzerza have gone unreturned.

But there’s a Yukon Party leadership race underway, and the candidates have been more forthcoming with their views.

Jim Kenyon sounds the most bullish on ATV regulation. He sounds warm to all of Trails Only’s proposals: imposing a temporary ban on cutting new trails until new government policies are in place, requiring registration and plating of vehicles and of putting a committee of experts to work to develop an action plan.

“We’ve got to do something,” he said.

Darrell Pasloski is the most skittish on the matter.

“I haven’t been fully briefed,” he said. “I need to have a better understanding.”

Rod Taylor would strike a committee to create an action plan for ATV regulation. “It’s clearly an issue of enough importance to enough Yukoners to warrant that kind of scrutiny.” Beyond that, he isn’t ready to commit to specifics.

Neither opposition party has an official position on ATV regulation. But NDP Leader Liz Hanson supports Trails Only’s plans to restrict ATV access.

“We need to make sure more damage isn’t done,” she said. “There are miles and miles of existing trails.”

And Hanson would ensure experts develop an action plan. “We need to move on it,” she said. “It needs to be addressed. We know it’s contentious.”

Hanson also supports mandatory registration. “We do it for boats,” she said. “I don’t know why we wouldn’t do it for ATVs.”

Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell is far more cautious. “I’m not a big believer in moving out and doing all kinds of instant changes,” he said.

“I personally think the first thing we should be doing is educating Yukoners, regarding both the safety and the environmental issues, before we rush into any legislation or restrictions.”

He’d also put experts to work on an action plan. But Mitchell’s wary about Trails Only’s scheme to restrict ATV use to existing trails.

“Existing trails are fine if you’re just out for a nice ride in the afternoon … but sometimes people are using these machines to try to actually get somewhere, whether for hunting or for the mining industry.”

Mitchell acknowledges that ATVs have created muddy messes in places. But he suspects most problems occur near Whitehorse, and that these issues could be handled through city bylaws.

“That’s not the issue in Carmacks or Old Crow,” he said.

Mitchell supports requiring ATV users to pass a mandatory training course, such as what’s done with boaters.

Contact John Thompson at

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history


Wyatt’s World for May 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Copies of the revised 2021-22 budget documents tabled in the legislature on May 14. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Liberals introduce new budget with universal dental and safe supply funding

The new items were added to secure the support of the NDP.

Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters on May 13. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Cap on rent increases will take effect May 15

The rollout of the policy is creating ‘chaos,’ says opposition

Yukon News file
A 21-year-old man is in custody after a stabbing in Porter Creek on May 14.
One man in hospital, another in custody, after alleged stabbing in Porter Creek

A police dog was used to track the suspect who was later arrested in a wooded area.

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Neil Hartling, the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon president, left, said the new self-isolation guidelines for the Yukon are a ‘ray of hope’ for tourism operators. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon tourism operators prepared for ‘very poor summer’ even with relaxed border rules

Toursim industry responds to new guidelines allowing fully vaccinated individuals to skip mandatory self-isolation.

A lawsuit has been filed detailing the resignation of a former Yukon government mine engineer. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A year after resigning, former chief mine engineer sues Yukon government

Paul Christman alleges a hostile work environment and circumvention of his authority led him to quit

Former Liberal MLA Pauline Frost speaks to reporters outside the courthouse on April 19. One of the voters accused of casting an invalid vote has been granted intervenor status in the lawsuit Frost filed last month. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Voters named in Pauline Frost election lawsuit ask to join court proceedings

The judge granted Christopher Schafer intervenor status

Most Read