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Whitehorse snow-clearing route could see changes

New streets could be added to priority list for plowing, sanding
City crews clear mounds of snow from a residential area in Copper Ridge in Whitehorse on March 16, 2021. The City of Whitehorse is considering changes to its snow and ice control policy ahead of the 2021/2022 winter season. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

As the City of Whitehorse continues to grow, officials are considering adding new streets to the city’s snow and ice control policy.

At Whitehorse city council’s Sept. 7 meeting, Richard Graham, the city’s manager of operations, brought forward a recommendation that council approve changes to the policy that sets out the order for roads to be plowed and sanded during the colder months.

The changes would see new roads added and some existing roads reprioritized due to transit changes.

Under the policy, Priority 1 roads are plowed and sanded first. They include freeways; major arterial routes, emergency routes and transit routes; roads that have steep grades; and, if it’s during spring melt, areas known to have drainage problems.

Priority 2 roads come next and are the remaining arterial roads and city bus routes, major industrial roads, roads in the Central Business District downtown, roadways next to schools and more heavily-used city facilities and parking lots as well as emergency routes in Priority 2 areas.

Priority 2.5 are laneways used for curbside waste with the remainder of city roads being classified as Priority 3. Finally, other city-owned parking lots and lanes fall under Priority 4.

Graham stressed there would be no reduction in service as a result of the changes.

“Olive May Way, Keno Way and Casca Boulevard and lanes in Whistle Bend used for curbside collection are being recommended for addition to the Snow and Ice Control Policy,” he stated in his report to council.

Under the proposed changes, Olive May Way and Keno Way would be listed as Priority 2 roads for snow clearing with lanes in Whistle Bend added as a Priority 2.5 for curbside waste collection.

Meanwhile, a portion of Black Street between Second Avenue and Front Street would be changed from Priority 2 to Priority 1 because of the new fire hall there. It officially opened in June, though firefighters have been working out of there since October 2020. Range Road is also proposed to become a Priority 1 road from its current status as Priority 2.

McLean Lake Road would be added as a Priority 2 to reflect its access through Hamilton Boulevard, while McLean Creek Lane would be moved to Priority 3 from its current Priority 2 status as it is no longer serving as quarry access.

Mount Sima and Lagoon Roads would become Priority 1 roads for ice control due to the grade of the Mount Sima Road at the Alaska Highway intersection and to ensure access of Lagoon Road.

The parking lot at the city operations building will be added as a Priority 4, while new trails along the Alaska Highway near Hillcrest and Range Road will be added to paved trails the operations department will maintain through the winter, with the other being the Two Mile Hill multi-use trails. The city’s parks department also maintains a number of popular trails through the winter months.

Winter maintenance of paved trails generated significant discussion during the council meeting. Delegate Nathan Miller, who spoke by phone, argued the city needs to invest more in trail maintenance as a way of encouraging active transportation in the city. Doing so could have positive benefits in addressing climate change and for the health and wellness of the community.

“If you build it, and maintain it, they will come,” he said.

Answering questions from council members, Graham noted trail maintenance could be looked at in greater detail during the next major review of the policy, anticipated over the next three to five years.

Acting city manager Jeff O’Farrell clarified under questioning by other council members that should the incoming council (to be elected in October) determine such a review to be a priority, administration would follow the direction of council and it could be done sooner.

Council will vote on the proposed changes Sept. 13.

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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