Council to consider changing name of First Avenue

Whitehorse's waterfront could see another change. City administration is recommending changing the name of First Avenue to Front Street. A bylaw to change the street's name could pass first and second reading next week.

Whitehorse’s waterfront could see another change.

City administration is recommending changing the name of First Avenue to Front Street. A bylaw to change the street’s name could pass first and second reading next week. It could pass third and final reading on Aug. 12. This would be in time for a waterfront revitalization celebration scheduled for Aug. 22.

The city has been thinking of changing the name for years, Pat Ross, manager of planning and building told council on Monday night. The change was recommended in the downtown retail strategy completed in 2006. The new street name would make it easier to promote downtown businesses, the report says.

This spring, the city put nine of the Motorways properties along the waterfront up for sale. Most have been sold. An art gallery is scheduled to be built on one.

The investment in the waterfront is “pretty impressive,” said Mayor Dan Curtis. “An area of town in Whitehorse that’s historically pretty rough has turned into a real gem.”

The proposed name shows the road along the waterfront is an attraction itself, not just a traffic corridor, Mike Gau, director of development services, told council. This new name “provides more of a draw than simply ‘First Avenue,’” Gau said.

But not everyone agreed.

“I’m having trouble seeing how much difference there is between naming that roadway First Avenue and Front Street,” Coun. Kirk Cameron said. “They tend to be just as, excuse the expression, bland.”

Connections to the arts and First Nations history “just beg something really creative and colourful and unique that’s very much about Whitehorse. Front Street just doesn’t do it for me,” said Cameron.

Changing the road’s name to Front Street also reflects Whitehorse’s past. People referred to First Avenue as Front Street well into the 20th century. They did this because both the river and the railroad were accessed from the street, which runs along the Yukon River. In Dawson, the road along the river is called Front Street, even though parallel roads are numbered.

The city could keep with the historical theme by changing the street’s name to Paddlewheel Way, said Coun. Dave Stockdale.

Putting in street signs with the new name will cost $1,500, the city’s administration report says. Businesses and residents will have to pay to update their addresses on letterhead and personal information, like drivers’ licences. Canada Post offers free mail forwarding service to property owners for a year, Ross told council.

Contact Meagan Gillmore at

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