Long-time hiker Luke Faught strolls down a Riverdale trail in Whitehorse on June 10. The City of Whitehorse’s 2020 trail plan is still a work in progress, but Parks and Community Development Manager Landon Kulych says the City of Whitehorse’s 2020 trail plan will focus largely on the management of the estimated 850 kilometres of trails within the city. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Trail plan would focus on management of city pathways

Public input will be sought ahead of final plan coming forward

The City of Whitehorse’s 2020 trail plan is still a work in progress, but parks and community development manager Landon Kulych says it will focus largely on managing the estimated 850 kilometres of trails within the city.

That compares with the current trail plan that was finalized in 2007 focusing on cataloging and tracking the trails throughout the city.

“It’s time to manage what we have,” Kulych said during a Sept. 10 council and administrative roundtable meeting.

The roundtable outlined a number of recommendations coming forward in the draft plan that will once again be released for public comment before final revisions are done and the plan is put to Whitehorse city council for adoption.

Lee and Associates principal Heidi Redman presented council with a number of recommendations outlined in the draft, highlighting the results of a survey and meetings which showed the importance of trails to much of the Whitehorse population.

“The trail network is a critical asset to the community,” she said, after noting many of those responding to the online survey and in stakeholder meetings reported using trails every day and living within five minutes of at least one.

Among the recommendations would be the continued work to finish the remaining neighbourhood trail plans that were started out of the 2007 trail plan. A total of four have been completed with another two for Whitehorse North and Whitehorse South to be done.

There would also be continued work to integrate First Nations languages and traditional place names in partnership with local First Nations into trail signage and names.

Similar to an agreement the city has with the Kwanlin Dün First Nation, a memorandum of understanding with the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council would be pursued on trail maintenance and planning.

That’s something Mayor Dan Curtis said he was pleased to see as he noted his support for signage being available in English, French and Southern Tutchone.

Improved online mapping as well as a printed copy of local trails and an etiquette guide aimed at reducing trail conflicts are among other suggestions from the draft.

Coun. Jan Stick cited the need for printed material, noting that in her other role as owner of Well-Read Books, she’s seen many customers purchasing Whitehorse & Area Hikes and Bikes that was published in 1995 by the Yukon Conservation Society.

While there is a lot of information online detailing local trails, there’s also many looking for printed material, she said. It was of particular interest this past spring and summer during the pandemic.

“People really wanted to know where to go,” she said.

Kulych said that while printed materials can be out of date quickly, a simple pamphlet highlighting key walking routes that aren’t likely to change is proposed.

“We know there is a desire for that out there,” he said.

The draft plan also suggests the city explore a number of issues such as snow removal on trails and how electric mobility devices fit into trail use, though any action would depend on what comes out of looking at those issues and discussions with the public.

While Coun. Samson Hartland praised the plan, he also said he would like to know the costs of implementation.

Redman noted that will be part of the final document that will be put to council later this year.

Questioned by Coun. Steve Roddick on how short-, medium- and long-term goals will be set, Kulych said officials will look at costs and viability of the recommendations before setting them into those categories.

It’s anticipated the city will soon begin looking for public feedback on the draft which will then be used to draft the final document that will go to council for adoption in late 2020.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Whitehorse city council