Whitehorse aims to curb unauthorized trail building

The City of Whitehorse is encouraging budding trailblazers to approach them with their ideas, rather than taking charge themselves. Someone recently tried to create a new trail on top of Grey Mountain.

The City of Whitehorse is encouraging budding trailblazers to approach them with their ideas, rather than taking charge themselves.

Someone recently tried to create a new trail on top of Grey Mountain. But that’s illegal, according to the city’s parks and public open space bylaw.

Members of the Contagious Mountain Bike Club discovered the rudimentary path near the highest peak of the mountain, where the Mother T and Go-T trails are also located.

Removing trees without permission is also forbidden by city policy, and can incur a fine of up to $500.

Doug Hnatiuk, manager of parks and community development at the city, said it’s important for trail builders to go through the proper channels before attempting to do it on their own.

“It provides the city with an opportunity to inventory this work but also to ensure that it’s supervised and carried out to a standard that is safe, enjoyable, sustainable and which meets the city’s criteria,” he said.

“Let’s work together on this, because there’s a huge resource out there of people willing to put their arms to the plow, but they just need a bit of guidance on how to do it in a responsible manner.”

In the past, hikers and mountain bikers would often create their own paths without supervision or guidance, an “ad-hoc approach” to trail development, as Hnatiuk calls it.

But the city created new rules for building trails in 2007, after a decade of discussions. And in 2013 the city created its trails and greenways committee, a group that meets every month to assist with the implementation of the city’s trail plan.

“That further sent a message that the city is intent and serious in terms of working within certain standards, such as the International Mountain Biking Association standards,” said Hnatiuk.

“In the past eight years, the city has become a lot more proactive when it comes to developing, managing and maintaining trails. That’s because the community is starting to understand that you can’t just pull out chainsaws and start ripping around.

“They want to see a trail network that meets a standard.”

Hnatiuk said the process for creating your own trail is straightforward. You have to fill out a trail development application form and submit it to the city.

The form contains questions such as the reason for trail development, whether there has been consultation with the neighbourhood association, and the reason why you believe the trail will enhance the overall trail network for the City of Whitehorse.

Then, that information is presented to the trails and greenways committee for discussion, and a recommendation is brought back to city administration.

“It could be completed in a matter of weeks but one took as long as a year, because it contained too many uncertainties,” Hnatiuk said.

He encourages anyone willing to carry out trail building activities to call him at 668-8662 to discuss their projects.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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