Whitehorse residents are being asked for their thoughts about pathways around town as the City of Whitehorse kicks off the public engagement portion of its trail plan update. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)

Public engagement begins for Whitehorse trail plan

350 respond to survey in first five days

Whitehorse residents are being asked for their thoughts about pathways around town as the City of Whitehorse kicks off the public engagement portion of its trail plan update.

City of Whitehorse officials announced in a May 8 statement that work is underway for a new 10-year trail plan.

“To create a plan that reflects our community’s needs and aspirations for our trail network, residents are invited to provide their input via an online survey by May 26,” the release said.

The survey results will be used to establish the vision for Whitehorse trails going forward and draft the plan.

Individual and small group interviews are also part of the engagement piece happening with user groups such as neighborhood associations, snowmobile groups, cycling clubs and more in addition to other governments, Landon Kulych, city parks and community development manager, said in a May 11 interview.

He acknowledged the engagement portion of the project has taken a new turn given distancing measures that have been implemented due to COVID-19.

“Some slight adjustments had to be made,” he said, pointing out any open houses or public meetings that had been planned are off. “We obviously had to adjust on-the-fly.”

The situation has forced some creative solutions to consultation with the video conferencing and one-on-one phone interviews now part of the plan.

In some ways, that has proven beneficial, Kulych said, with a number of those interviewed noting they feel more comfortable talking in smaller groups or one-on-one about the trail system.

At the same time, that effort will take a little longer with the timeline for completing a draft trail plan set for fall or winter of this year.

It had originally been expected the final plan would be done by the fall.

Kulych said he’s hopeful a final plan will be adopted by the end of the year, though it could be early 2021 depending on how things go.

Thus far, it appears there is substantial interest in the trail plan with 350 responding to the survey in the first five days. Kulych is hopeful that interest will continue throughout the month as the survey continues.

Following the survey, mapping will be done throughout the summer with continued work on drafting the plan.

A public review of the draft plan will also be held before the final document is put forward to city council.

With 700 kilometres of trail within the city, the trail network is designed to serve as a link between neighbourhoods, provide access to surrounding wilderness and help residents move throughout the city.

“An integrated trail system provides a range of recreation and transportation benefits,” officials said.

The survey and information on the trail plan is available at whitehorse.ca/trails.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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