Citizens suggest new name for First Avenue

Going to the waterfront could have a whole new meaning in Whitehorse. City administration is recommending First Avenue's name be changed to Front Street.

Going to the waterfront could have a whole new meaning in Whitehorse.

City administration is recommending First Avenue’s name be changed to Front Street. The street has always been officially named First Avenue, but many people called it Front Street in the early 20th century because it was the access point for both the Yukon River and the railroad. The city wants to change the name in time for the celebration of the waterfront’s revitalization, scheduled for later this month.

A bylaw to change First Avenue’s name to Front Street passed first and second reading last month.

But citizens have another option they want city council to consider.

At Monday’s public hearing, two citizens suggested naming the street after the waterfront.

“Waterfront gives the illusion of umbrellas and coffee,” Davina Harker told council. Front Street doesn’t “identify anything,” she said. And younger generations don’t even know why people call the road Front Street anyway, she said.

Carol Boschman had a similar suggestion. Councillors should consider Waterfront Way, she said.

“It just has a nice rhythmic flow,” she said. And each part of the name reflects a different part of the city’s history.

“Water for the river. Front for the original name of Front Street. Way for the railway,” Boschman told council. It also fits in with buildings and attractions already along the waterfront, like the White Pass and Yukon Route building, the S.S. Klondike and the trolley, she said. This could make the area more inviting for tourists, businesses and residents, she said.

Some people have been concerned about using the word “street” in the proposed new name. First Avenue runs in the opposite direction as the numbered streets in the city. Renaming it a street could be confusing. Renaming the avenue a “way” would solve this problem, said Boschman.

But people from outside of Whitehorse think Front Street is a good new name for First Avenue. Dawson City Mayor Wayne Potoroka has called to give his support for the change, Mayor Dan Curtis said at the start of Monday’s meeting. Dawson also has a Front Street that runs parallel with numbered avenues in the city.

The feedback from other municipalities is “pretty encouraging,” Curtis said after the meeting. Waterfront Way is an “interesting” option, he said. Keeping the heritage aspect of the area is important, he said.

Waterfront Way isn’t the only alternative solution that has come forward. Coun. Dave Stockdale had suggested Paddlewheel Way as an option last month when the potential name change was first brought to council.

Two written submissions to the city supported changing the name to Front Street. Another suggested Waterfront Avenue.

Coun. Kirk Cameron had also expressed reservations about changing the name to Front Street. He is on vacation and was absent from Monday’s meeting.

The bylaw to change the street’s name to Front Street is scheduled to come before council next week.

Contact Meagan Gillmore at

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