Snowmobilers and skiers scrap

Whitehorse is drafting new snowmobiling rules. To have your say, attend a meeting tonight. It's from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Westmark Hotel. There, the city will showcase the results of a review done with the help of community associations...

Whitehorse is drafting new snowmobiling rules.

To have your say, attend a meeting tonight. It’s from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Westmark Hotel.

There, the city will showcase the results of a review done with the help of community associations, the Yukon Conservation Society, First Nations, Listers Motorsports, the Klondike Snowmobile Association, RCMP and various branches of government.

If you can’t attend, written submissions are being accepted until May 5.

The meeting is part of a push to have new snowmobiling bylaws in place before next winter, said bylaw chief David Pruden.

Whitehorse’s antique snowmobile bylaw was passed in the early 1970s, when the machines were better known as “motor toboggans,” and last updated in 1994.

The review was spurred by several problems.

Young, reckless riders make a racket buzzing by neighbourhoods. Others chew up hillsides with their heavy treads.

Many neighbourhoods lack clearly designated “out and away trails” to allow snowmobiles to travel in and out of town. Without these trails, snowmobilers tear along the same trails as cross-country skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts, who often resent the intrusion of motorized vehicles.

Areas near Riverdale and Porter Creek seem to spur much of these conflicts.

Skiers want snowmobiles banned from trails behind Valleyview, Kopper King, Takhini and Marwell.

Conservationists worry sledders may frighten caribou and other wildlife. They want snowmobile use restricted near areas such as Paddy’s Pond and McIntyre Creek.

Sledders are still sore about how they’re banned from using the Riverdale footbridge to access a popular snowmobiling spot to the west. They’d like a new bridge that allows vehicles.

Some city signs are misleading. Protected areas are, in fact, fair game to snowmobilers.

And many snowmobilers flout the requirement that, within city limits, their vehicles should be registered and insured, and that they should be wearing a helmet while riding.

The city has one bylaw officer who spends about one-third of his work week trying to enforce this law, but with thousands of kilometres of trails within Whitehorse, it’s a tall task.

To try to address these problems, new trail maps are in the works. Bylaws will either be revised or replaced with new laws. And public education efforts will likely be ramped up.

The task force also fought over how far the city should go in regulating snowmobile use.

Brian Edelman, owner of Listers Motorsports, warned too much red tape will hurt the economy. The snowmobiling industry provides more than 100 jobs in Whitehorse, he told the committee.

Snowmobiles used within Whitehorse should be licensed, registered and insured, said Edelman. But he didn’t want age restrictions on snowmobiles, because riding will teach kids to be responsible with motor vehicles, he said.

More children have been hurt by riding bikes and playing in playgrounds than by riding snowmobiles, said Mark Daniels, of the Klondike Snowmobile Association.

Yukon Party goes on

advertising spree

The Yukon Party has launched an advertising blitz.

Flyers mailed across the territory boast of the governing party’s achievements. Spending on radio spots have more than doubled.

Guess who’s picking up the bill? You are.

To the Liberal Opposition, this is a blatant abuse of tax dollars. “Once again, the Yukon Party is spending public money in an attempt to refurbish its reputation in advance of the election,” said Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell in a release.

But Premier Dennis Fentie insists the advertising is simply a way “to inform the public of what’s going on in their territory. And, these days, the Yukon is a very positive place.”

Total advertising spending is up to $22,000 this year, from $17,800 last year, said Bill Curtis, director of finance.

Of this year’s spending, $12,400 has gone to print advertising and $8,700 has gone to radio spots with CKRW and CHON. Last year, the territory spent less than half as much – $4,000 – on air time.

When pressed on the matter, Fentie insisted there was nothing untoward about the government’s advertising spree.

“I don’t know. Why is the sky blue and why is the water wet? We continue to use every means possible to make sure the Yukon public is informed,” he said.

“We certainly don’t get that from the opposition. So we have to present to Yukoners exactly what’s happening in this territory, to the extent we can.”

Fentie feigned surprise that the Liberals had criticized him.

“You mean they surfaced after their dismal performance in the last sitting? We were all waiting for Arthur Mitchell to articulate to the Yukon public what the Liberals stood for and what the plan is for the future. If that’s it, criticize us for informing the public, I wish them luck.”

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your furnace and your truck need to go

Perhaps the biggest commitment in the NDP deal with the Liberals was boosting the Yukon’s climate target

Awaken Festival organizers Meredith Pritchard, Colin Wolf, Martin Nishikawa inside the Old Firehall in Whitehorse on May 11. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Performing arts fest plans to awaken artistic talent in Whitehorse and the rural North

‘A value of ours is to make theatre as accessible as possible.’

April Mikkelsen tosses a disc during a ladies only disc golf tournament at Solstice DiscGolfPark on May 8. John Tonin/Yukon News
Yukon sees its first-ever women’s disc golf tournament

The Professional Disc Golf Assocation had a global women’s event last weekend. In the Yukon, a women’s only tournament was held for the first time ever.

Dave Blottner, executive director at the Whitehorse Food Bank, said the food bank upped its services because of the pandemic. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Food Bank sees Yukoners’ generosity firsthand

“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open.”

A prescribed burn is seen from the lookout at Range Road and Whistle Bend Way in Whitehorse May 12. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Editorial: Are you ready for a forest fire?

Citizens for a Firesmart Whitehorse have listed some steps for Yukoners to boost safety and awareness

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Most Read