Boating groups seek space on Schwatka Lake

Representatives from two Yukon water sports groups presented their vision of a recreation hub on Schwatka Lake to Whitehorse's city council on Monday night.

Representatives from two Yukon water sports groups presented their vision of a recreation hub on Schwatka Lake to Whitehorse’s city council on Monday night.

Daniel Girouard of the Yukon Canoe Kayak Club and Shannon Jones of the Yukon Breeze Sailing Society spoke to council about the possibility of setting up a permanent home, for their groups and others, on the shore of Schwatka.

In the short term, they are seeking permission to store boats and other gear in sea-cans near the lake, and are also asking for access to a boat dock or ramp, bathroom facilities, shelter of some sort, and a parking area.

In the longer term, they envision a year-round permanent facility for a variety of recreational groups, including office space, change rooms, and a multi-purpose room – think Mount McIntyre for water sports. They told council that in addition to their own groups they already have support for the project from the Yukon River Marathon Paddling Association, Yukon Wind Sport, and local businesses Equinox Adventures, Yukan Canoe, and Up North Adventures.

Girouard told council that the groups would like to locate their base on the southwest side of Schwatka, just south of the floatplane docks at the point where Miles Canyon Road curves uphill and away from the lake. There’s an existing parking pullout and a stretch of empty government land there. It’s also more accessible than the existing boat ramp on the southeast side of the lake, which requires a longer drive down Chadburn Lake Road.

Councillor Kirk Cameron asked both presenters how they planned to deal with the competing traffic on Schwatka Lake – floatplanes, powerboats and other users. Girouard explained that while the groups would access the water from the southwest side of the lake, the ideal location for setting up lanes for racing would be in a sheltered bay on the southeast side. So after paddling out from their ramp, boaters would be out of the planes’ way.

He also suggested that most powerboaters use the existing southeast boat ramp and head upriver towards Marsh Lake from there – they don’t spend their time on Schwatka itself. Jones added that the floatplane companies are already in support of the project, because they expect that a permanent city presence near their docks would reduce incidences of vandalism.

The Yukon Canoe Kayak Club has more than 200 members, and Girouard pointed out that the group represents only a fraction of the Yukon’s paddlers – so demand for a Schwatka facility, he argued, would be high. The group is particularly keen to improve its sprint paddling courses and competitions. Sprint canoeing and kayaking are both Olympic sports, and last summer the YCKC sent two Yukon paddlers to compete at the summer Canada Games. The goal is to send 12 Yukoners to the next Canada Games in 2017.

The Yukon Breeze Sailing Society is less well known. The group was incorporated as a non-profit in 2011, and for the past several summers it has imported instructors and boats from British Columbia to offer sailing camps for Yukon youth. The goal, said Jones, is to build the society’s presence and its capacity to offer courses taught by Yukoners. The group plans to purchase its own boats, certify and hire local instructors, and offer an expanded selection of courses and camps in 2014.

The society has secured funding for its boat purchases and expanded programming, but is in serious need of storage facilities and a staging area, Jones said.

The request from the two groups is complicated by the fact that the land in question is in the midst of a possible re-zoning process. The area currently belongs to the territory, but the city is seeking to acquire and develop it. There are also existing private docks in the area whose permits are reissued by the city each year.

Girouard and Jones told council that their 2014 programming would still go ahead without the new space, just in a reduced capacity. They need an answer by early June in order to plan for the summer.

“I think Schwatka Lake is a wonderful asset to the city,” Girouard told council. “We should be able to access it for recreational purposes.”

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

Just Posted

In a Feb. 17 statement, the City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology used for emergency response. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Three words could make all the difference in an emergency

City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology

Jesse Whelen, Blood Ties Four Directions harm reduction councillor, demonstrates how the organization tests for fentanyl in drugs in Whitehorse on May 12, 2020. The Yukon Coroner’s Service has confirmed three drug overdose deaths and one probable overdose death since mid-January. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three overdose deaths caused by “varying levels of cocaine and fentanyl,” coroner says

Heather Jones says overdoses continue to take lives at an “alarming rate”

Wyatt's World for Feb. 24, 2021.
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 24, 2021.

Approximately 30 Yukoners protest for justice outside the Whitehorse courthouse on Feb. 22, while a preliminary assault hearing takes place inside. The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society, based in Watson Lake, put out a call to action over the weekend. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Courthouse rally denounces violence against Indigenous women

The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society put out a call to action

The now empty lot at 410 Cook Street in Whitehorse on January 19. As developers move forward with plans for a housing development that would feature 16 micro-units, they are asking city council for a zoning change that would reduce the number of required parking spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Parking problems predicted

Zoning amendment would create more on-street parking issues, residents say

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

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

The Yukon government and the Yukon First Nations Chamber of Commerce have signed a letter of understanding under the territory’s new procurement policy. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
First Nation business registry planned under new procurement system

Letter of understanding signals plans to develop registry, boost procurement opportunities

US Consul General Brent Hardt during a wreath-laying ceremony at Peace Arch State Park in September 2020. Hardt said the two federal governments have been working closely on the issue of appropriate border measures during the pandemic. (John Kageorge photo)
New U.S. consul general says countries working closely on COVID-19 border

“I mean, the goal, obviously, is for both countries to get ahead of this pandemic.”

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Start of spring sitting announced

The Yukon legislature is set to resume for the spring sitting on… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

(Submitted)
History Hunter: Kwanlin Dün — a book of history, hardship and hope

Dǎ Kwǎndur Ghày Ghàkwadîndur: Our Story in Our Words is published by… Continue reading

Most Read