Whitehorse council bans motorized vehicles on Whistle Bend trail

Whitehorse city council banned the use of motorized vehicles on the Whistle Bend perimeter trail at the urging of some of its residents June 12.

Whitehorse city council banned the use of motorized vehicles on the Whistle Bend perimeter trail at the urging of some of its residents June 12.

Six residents spoke at the city council meeting about the safety of the trail if it was to be shared by motorized and non-motorized users.

“The nine-foot wide walking trail is barely enough to get by people walking with a dog or a child. How are we supposed to share this trail with a motorized vehicle?” said Whistle Bend homeowner, Jefferson Olson.

The city designated the contentious trail as motorized multi-use in 2009. But city councillors and residents questioned the legitimacy of the designation.

Chris Antaya, a resident of Whistle Bend, said she did not even know the trail could be used by motorized vehicles. Coun. Dan Boyd said the designation was not clear and “convoluted, at best.”

The designation in 2009 was made before the new development in Whistle Bend that has brought in hundreds of new residents. Tim Brady and his wife bought a house on Eldorado Drive in May this year. He told councillors having a shared trail would detract the quality of life for him and his neighbours.

“When we purchased this lot we didn’t know our new home would be backing onto a motorized multi-use trail,” said Brady. He added they have never participated in any previous discussion or consultation on the trail.

Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu agreed it wasn’t fair to citizens who were purchasing homes in Whistle Bend under the assumption that the trail was non-motorized. She shared concerns about how the trail would affect the seniors expected to move in to Whistle Bend when the new care facility opens.

However, Mark Daniels, president of the Klondike Snowmobile Association, argued there was no evidence to suggest that motorized multi-use trails are unsafe. Daniels, who has extensive experience with trails in the Yukon, cautioned the council not to fall for the “myth that trails cannot be safely used by motorized and non-motorized users.”

“My concern is that safety is a red herring thrown about in trail use,” he said. “If people are concerned, then we should educate them and not fuel the myth.”

Julie Jai, another resident of Whistle Bend, said she understands that owners of snowmobiles, dirt bikes and quads need a place to use and enjoy trails as well. She suggested the use of Casca Boulevard, which is already designated as a motorized multi-use trail leading out of Whistle Bend.

Jai has been driving the push to make the Whistle Bend trail off limits to motorized vehicles and was delighted by council’s decision.

“I was so thrilled today to see so many people from the Whistle Bend community come out and explain how important this trail is to them,” she said. “I really think that the Whistle Bend perimeter trail is our community’s Millennium trail.”

The city council is yet to decide whether to bar motorized vehicles from the McCauley Creek Crossing Trail in Porter Creek. They are expected to revisit that trail’s designation in September after consultation with the task force and the Trails Greenways Committee.

Contact Sharon Nadeem at sharon.nadeem@yukon-news.com

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