Robert Service Campground, which opens in May, will be managed by the City of Whitehorse for the first time in more than 20 years. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Robert Service Way planning study nears completion

City taking over operation of campground this year

A planning study on Robert Service Way is almost complete, but that doesn’t mean there are plans to officially adopt it, says Kinden Kosick, planner with the City of Whitehorse.

Instead, the study, carried out between February 2017 and January 2018 by Jane of All Trades Consulting, brings together feedback and options for the area south of downtown.

This extends from Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport to the north, the Alaska Highway to the west, the Yukon River and White Pass and Yukon Route railway to the east and Ear Lake to the south.

Kosick says city staff are putting together a final draft for the end of March, in hopes of presenting to council in the coming months. It may then act as a reference point to help inform over a dozen other plans including the official community plan, the Schwatka Lake area plan and the parks and recreation master plan.

Kosick says information was gathered from residents by way of online surveys, booths at the farmer’s market and on the Millennium Trail, and social media.

One of the goals was to gauge people’s feelings on future use of areas such as trails, dirtbike tracks, the city’s snow dump site, the mud bog, the softball diamonds, the upper terrace south of the airport, two quarries near Ear Lake (whose leases are up), and Robert Service Campground and Bert Law Park.

Kosick says feedback from respondents on the campground just reinforces the importance of that area for Whitehorse residents.

It’s one area that will see immediate change (though, again, none suggested in the planning study).

When Robert Service Campground opens May 18, it will be run by the city for the first time in over 20 years.

It had previously been privately operated by Amanda and Bernard Stehelin of Amber Enterprises, but when Amber’s lease expired at the end of 2017, the city chose not to renew it.

Doug Hnatiuk, manager of parks and community development with the City of Whitehorse, says the campground won’t see many changes this season. Right now, staff will just be getting used to running it.

In the future though, he says the city would like to introduce programming and kids camps, and upgrade infrastructure including the shower house and main office.

He says that, as far as he knows, there are no plans to introduce RV camping to the area, and the campground will remain tent-only.

“What we’ve heard, feedback from individuals is they like the idea of having a rustic experience in the downtown area,” says Hnatiuk.

He says the goal is to provide enhancements to the campground without taking away the character that people value when they get off a plane from Germany, for example.

“That’s part of the mystique,” he says. “We don’t want to lose that.”

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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