The debate over the use of motorized vehicles on Whistle Bend trails continues on during another Whitehorse city council meeting. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)

Survey suggests Whistle Bend residents split on motorized trail use

Results seem ‘pretty black and white,’ community association chair says

There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground in the discussion around trail designation in Whistle Bend, says Darrell Hookey, chair of the Whistle Bend Community Association (WBCA).

Results from a survey by the City of Whitehorse were recently published online.

The survey, which closed April 20, is meant to gauge the community’s feelings on the Whistle Bend paved perimeter loop and the Casca Inner Loop. The results will inform the recommendations of city administration regarding designation for these trails.

In June 2017, Whitehorse city council passed a motion designating the Whistle Bend paved perimeter trail as non-motorized. However, multi-use signs went up on the trail last fall.

The city told the News in March that the non-motorized designation remains intact, but that the city’s snowmobile bylaw provides an exemption that allows for snowmobile use on some trails in winter. This includes the Whistle Bend trail.

Whistle Bend residents, as well as some members of the Active Trails Whitehorse Association, disagreed with this. A number of residents spoke during delegations to council in March.

As a result, the city distributed a survey through the mail to Whistle Bend residents. The survey was also available online.

Of the 148 respondents, 80 disagreed with the use of snowmobiles on the Whistle Bend paved perimeter trail while 65 were in favour. Seventy-nine disagreed with the Casca Inner Loop being designated motorized multi-use, while 67 were in favour.

As chair of the WBCA, Hookey said he can’t speak to his own opinion on the issue, but says the survey results seem “pretty black and white,” with an even split between those who want multi-use trails and those who don’t.

Only about a dozen respondents were neutral on the issue, according to the survey.

Hookey said he can see both sides — that if someone has had a bad experience with snowmobiles on walking trails, it’s understandable they wouldn’t want to repeat that. He also said that people who bought houses in Whistle Bend believing they’d be able to use their ATVs on the trails want to be able to do that.

The results, along with an administrative recommendation, will be presented to council in June.

Hookey said the WBCA will support whatever decision council makes on trail designation. He’s hopeful that Whistle Bend residents will do the same.

Survey results can be found online at whitehorse.ca.

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

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