The Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club is facing charges under the territory’s Lands Act and the Forest Resources Act for a new trail ski club volunteers cut last year.
The four-kilometre trail, to be named the Skyline Trail, starts at about kilometre 13 on Fish Lake Road. It was to connect to another club trail, the Fraser Loop. Some parts of the trail are as wide as 2.5 metres. Permits are required for any trail wider than 1.5 metres.
The club is also facing charges for cutting down willows without a permit, said club president Anne Kennedy.
Volunteers worked on cutting the trail last summer. A Fish Lake area resident complained last fall. Energy, Mines and Resources investigated the complaint, and the club co-operated in the investigation, said Kennedy. Work on the trail stopped immediately after they heard about the complaint, and the club did not encourage any skiing on the trail.
The board “is treating this as a very serious matter,” said Kennedy. The club has worked very closely with government departments over the years and has not faced charges like this before, she said. “We’re kind of distressed by this current situation. It’s not something that we anticipated could happen.”
Under the legislation, the club could face fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as having to paying for cleanup work. These fines “could definitely have a significant impact” on the club’s budget, she said.
The first court appearance was April 9. The club will enter pleas on April 30. A club member has volunteered to represent them.
In the meantime, the club will make sure volunteers have a better understanding of the permitting requirements when cutting trails. There are no new trails planned for this summer.
Energy, Mines and Resources could not comment on the case because it’s before the courts.