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Whitehorse council considers snow clearing for two trails

Pathways used as active transportation routes
These maps show the pathways the city is proposing to plowing. (City of Whitehorse)

Two local trails may soon see more snow clearing service from the City of Whitehorse.

At Whitehorse city council’s Jan. 24 meeting, director of operations Tracy Allen brought forward a recommendation that the city’s snow and ice control policy be amended to alter the level of service for a portion of the lower escarpment paved path and the connector trail between Granger and Hillcrest.

The change would see the two routes plowed by the city’s transportation department.

The proposal comes in response to a significant rise in the number of commuters using active transportation to move through the city year-round in recent years, Allen explained.

“In response to this trend, the Whitehorse community has advocated for an increase in the level of service on popular active commuting routes,” Allen told council.

In highlighting the two trails being considered for increased service, Allen noted the lower escarpment path from Ogilvie Street to Lambert Street is a popular route for those headed north or south downtown and serves as a connector to the Black Street stairs.

The main gravel trail connecting Granger to Hillcrest is a popular route for those from Copper Ridge to Granger who are commuting downtown.

“An increase in service level here will allow for a more seamless connection for Copper Ridge and Granger residents to access the new Alaska Highway paved pathway which connects to the airport paved path and then the Black Street stairs,” Allen said.

It’s anticipated the two paths will see “exponential winter use increases and active transportation in these areas” if the changes go ahead.

The additional snow removal can be absorbed within the city’s budget, it was noted.

While council appeared largely in agreement with the change — with members highlighting the call for better active transportation infrastructure that came up during input into the capital budget and highlighting the ability to absorb the service into the existing budget — members also wondered about more changes to the snow and ice control policy.

Interim city manager Jeff O’Farrell initially stated that there would be something on it coming forward next month.

As questions from council continued, he eventually gave more details, stating administration will be looking for direction from council to move forward with a “comprehensive, wholescale review of our approach to snow and ice management in the City of Whitehorse.”

If it goes forward, the city is anticipating having a consultant oversee the review.

“We imagine that the review would consider everything from strategy to fleet to how we even manage the snow after we remove it,” O’Farrell said. “We strongly expect that such a review would result in changes to our our snow and ice control policy. This will take time and this will take resources to do it right. We don’t want to do it in a haphazard fashion. We want to do it in a comprehensive manner and we want to make sure that we’re reviewing the best practices from other municipalities of our size and within our similar climate.”

While the comprehensive review will take time and resources if it goes ahead, the two trails would be added immediately to the city’s list of routes to be plowed should council vote in favour of that change.

Council will vote on the proposed trail change Jan. 31.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Stephanie Waddell

About the Author: Stephanie Waddell

I joined Black Press in 2019 as a reporter for the Yukon News, becoming editor in February 2023.
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