Snowmobiles safe on streets

Whitehorse won't be banning snowmobiles from city streets after all. Politicians scrapped that recommendation when they reviewed the findings of the snowmobile task force on Monday.

Whitehorse won’t be banning snowmobiles from city streets after all.

Politicians scrapped that recommendation when they reviewed the findings of the snowmobile task force on Monday.

The city reserves the right to designate some streets off-limits to snowmobiles, but it will not be a blanket ban.

The original recommendation would have forced people to load their snowmobiles on trailers and to ferry them to a designated staging area to access trails.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate,” said Coun. Dave Stockdale. “We don’t have these areas prepared and it may cause more disturbances in those areas.”

Some trails may also be designated offlimits.

Council directed administration to look at instituting fines and penalties for riders who operate outside those trails.

All told, the task force came up with 15 recommendations, most of which council approved.

They include developing a trail map, restrictions on streets and trails, protection of environmentally sensitive areas, speed limits and signage.

The task force also calls for requiring riders to take a snowmobile safety course.

Some of recommendations are already law, on the books as part of the Yukon Motor Vehicles Act, but not enforced.

Those include the requirement for liability insurance, a driver’s licence, registration and wearing a helmet.

Some of it may seem like common sense, but it needs to be put down on the books, said Dave Pruden, manager of bylaw services.

The current snowmobile bylaw dates from the 1970s so it is due for a rewrite, he said

“The city’s changed a lot since the ‘70s.”

Right now there is only one bylaw officer who does enforcement on more than 300 kilometres of city trails.

It may seem too little for enforcing the rules, but enforcement is a last resort, said Pruden.

“Education is really the key,” he said.

When people know the rules they tend to respect them, he added.

Administration will now take the direction that council has given and work to produce a draft bylaw.

That should be ready by early November.

It will then go out for public consultation.

Contact Josh Kerr at

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