Snowmobile bylaw gets cold reception

Whitehorse's new snowmobile bylaw doesn't go far enough, city council was told Monday. As it's written, the bylaw will not be effective in dealing with noise and issues of public safety, said Porter Creek resident Keith Lay.

Whitehorse’s new snowmobile bylaw doesn’t go far enough, city council was told Monday.

As it’s written, the bylaw will not be effective in dealing with noise and issues of public safety, said Porter Creek resident Keith Lay.

Lay wasn’t the only one to lob criticism at the draft version of the bylaw that was presented to council that evening.

Three other people appeared at the meeting, all expressing concerns about environmental impacts, safety, trail management and noise.

Council is scheduled to give first reading to the bylaw next Monday.

The city has been working on the legislation for more than two years.

It’s designed to replace the current snowmobile bylaw, which is almost 40 years old.

Under the new rules, all riders would need to complete a snowmobile safety course. Helmets would become mandatory and city-wide speed limits would be created.

The bylaw also restricts snowmobilers to designated trails when riding through environmentally sensitive areas.

In an earlier draft of the bylaw, snowmobilers would have been banned from using city streets, but that provision has since been removed.

Taking out that rule was “illogical,” according to Lay, who called snowmobiles an “ever-present danger to motorists and pedestrians.”

That raised the ire of Coun. Dave Stockdale, who defended council’s decision to remove those restrictions.

“We felt it was too great an imposition to require people to buy a trailer and haul their snowmobile to an out-and-away trail,” he said.

It would have also put too great a burden on the city itself, said Stockdale.

“We would have also prepared an area where people could be able to park and unload them,” he said.

After the bylaw goes up for first reading next week, there will be another public input session on it, scheduled for Feb. 13.

Council could send the proposed bylaw back for another round of public review, but that would delay the vote until well after this year’s snowmobile season, said Dave Pruden, the city’s manager of bylaw services.

The bylaw has already gone through an extensive public consultation process over the last two years, he said.

“There has been an incredible amount of work done by city staff,” said Pruden. “We attempted to work with everyone who has an interest in bringing this bylaw forward.”

Right now, second and third readings on the proposed bylaw are scheduled for Feb. 27.

Contact Josh Kerr at

joshk@yukon-news.com