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High-traffic roads prioritized for Whitehorse snow clearing this week

Takhini, Whistle Bend and Downtown are next on deck for service
City crews clear mounds of snow from a residential area in Copper Ridge in Whitehorse in 2021. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Faced with record-breaking snowfall, Whitehorse snow crews are clearing roads in Takhini, Whistle Bend and Downtown this week.

In an emailed statement, the city’s operations department said additional contractors have been brought on to assist with snow removal.

“The City of Whitehorse is working as quickly as possible to clear snow, based on established priority levels,” it was noted. “Contractors are supporting the City’s snow removal efforts. Many roads are now plowed/opened and the city has restarted snow loading and hauling.”

Difficult travel

In the email, officials acknowledged that travel conditions are difficult and it’s important that all transportation users exercise patience and caution on roads, sidewalks and trails.

“The public can help by giving crews and equipment time and space to work,” the city said. “Please watch for snow removal signage and remove all obstacles from roadways. Please do not cover objects (cars, fire hydrants, electrical boxes, communications boxes) or any other infrastructure with snow. Please do not push snow on to any roadways or other property without the owners permission.”

The snow removal schedule posted on the city’s website lists the three neighbourhoods to be cleared from Jan. 3 to 9.

Recent snowfall has seen Yukoners continually digging out driveways and maneuvering snowy roads. On Dec. 31, a total of 58 centimeters fell on the city, the largest snowfall on that date since 1980, when 65 cm was measured.

A day earlier, the city issued a statement highlighting its efforts to clear the already large snowpack from city roads.

“City crews are working around the clock to clear unusually high amounts of snow from Whitehorse streets,” officials said, going on to note that arterial roads are at the top of the priority list, followed by roads that serve as transit routes with bus stops.

“Neighborhood streets are cleared after the main roads are done,” it said.

Setting priorities

A snow and ice control policy guides the order in which roads are plowed with Priority 1 roads completed first. They include freeways, major arterial routes, major emergency routes, major bus routes and roadways that have steep grades.

The second priority goes to the remaining arterial, emergency and bus routes, major industrial roads, school zones and roadways in the central business district downtown.

The remaining roads in the city are Priority 3 with city-owned parking lots and lanes classified as the fourth priority. Full maps detailing which roads fall under each priority are available on the city’s website.

The website also details the neighbourhoods where snow removal is scheduled each week, in this case Takhini, Whistle Bend and Downtown Priority 1 and 2 roads.

It’s noted though the schedule may be impacted if there is a new snowfall or other delays.

“Occasionally your street may be scheduled for clearing but it gets skipped,” it’s noted on the city’s website. “This usually happens when there are multiple vehicles parked on the street, slowing down progress clearing snow and ice. Crews rely on your support, and the support of your neighbours, to move your vehicles (and any obstacles) off the street so snow and ice can be cleared efficiently.”

Officials added that as long as it’s snowing, the focus will be on Priority 1 and 2 roads.

“The city allows priority 3 and 4 roads to pack to a hardened snow surface until such time as the snow can be completely removed and hauled away,” officials said.

The snow and ice policy is reviewed and adopted by Whitehorse city council each year ahead of the winter season.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Stephanie Waddell

About the Author: Stephanie Waddell

I joined Black Press in 2019 as a reporter for the Yukon News, becoming editor in February 2023.
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