Today’s Mailbox: Trails and landfills

Letters to the Editor published Oct. 18

Consider closing the trail on the Pine Street extension

Whitehorse’s Parks and Community Development Department claims snowmobilers will be put at risk by possible contact with city snow dump trucks in the winter, if they continue to use the Klondike Snowmobile Association’s (KSA) groomed snowmobile trail on Porter Creek’s Pine Street extension.

On the basis of that claim, city staff decided in 2018 that the KSA would no longer groom a snowmobile trail on the extension as it had in past years. Instead, snowmobilers would use the extension’s snow-covered paved trail, a gas tax funded active transportation trail, originally intended to be designated non-motorized both in summer and in winter.

Active Trails Whitehorse Association (ATWA) has suggested to the city that there is a solution to this perceived safety issue that would protect all users from possible contact with city snow dump trucks, and uphold the commitment that staff made before the public and city council, namely that it would recommend the trail be designated non-motorized the entire year.

Our suggestion is to shut the extension down to all users for the 11 to 14 times a year (according to the city’s Operations Department) that the extension is used by snow dump trucks. Our usual snow year encompasses 167 days. Alternate routes for all users are available.

Mixing 476-lbs snowmobiles with non-motorized users on this steep snow-covered paved trail, will result in a far greater safety issue for both motorized and non-motorized users, especially when one realizes that a chance encounter between snowmobilers and City snow dump trucks could happen a maximum of 14 days a season, as opposed to the 167 days that snowmobilers could come in direct contact with non-motorized users on the snow-covered paved trail.

In addition, all users of both the snow-covered paved trail and gravel Extension will continue to encounter snow dump trucks crossing both routes to access snow dumps located at the bottom of the hill, a safety issue that will not be addressed by moving snow machine operators to the paved trail.

City council needs to rectify this potentially dangerous situation by closing the extension to all users when snow dump trucks are in operation.

This would:

a) address the concern re: the safety of snowmobilers;

b) address the Mayor’s concern for the safety of city workers;

c) address ATWA’s concern for the safety of non-motorized users of both the extension and paved trail;

d) allow the KSA to continue grooming a snowmobile trail down the extension, which would free snowmobilers from the worry of encountering non-motorized users or snow dump trucks; and

e) allow the paved trail to be designated as a non-motorized (winter and summer) active transportation trail as was originally intended.

ATWA also suggests the city consult with the Porter Creek Community Association to see what manner of snow clearing (if any) would best serve winter non-motorized users of the paved trail.

Keith Lay

Active Trails Whitehorse Association

The landfill is not a store

Please keep a free store out of the City of Whitehorse landfill.

A free store is a great idea, it would be a benefit for a lot of people of all income brackets, but it doesn’t belong in the landfill.

Yes it works in the smaller communities, but you cannot compare the City of Whitehorse landfill to those of the communities. The volume of waste, the amount of traffic that enters our landfill on a daily basis is far greater than that of the communities. The city landfill is an industrial site and safety is a major issue.

A few short years ago, the landfill was run by two gatehouse operators and one heavy duty operator compacting and burying waste that was not being recycled, all of whom are contractors. Today the landfill is a different animal, it has become much more complicated and the city presence here has expanded to five employees, all of whom are needed to deal with the complications that arise because of the daily tonnage which comes in here every day, and the more environmentally responsible way of dealing with it.

Tons of wood, brush, tires, and metal are now being re-used and recycled on a daily basis. A free store in the middle of all this does not work. A free store would need to be isolated from the activities of the landfill. It was fortunate that no accidents took place with the one we had previously.

A free store would need to be re-located, isolated from the traffic coming in and out. Trucks with trailers are backing up to dump in the bins, traffic is coming and going, heavy equipment is sometimes in the same vicinity. When the former free store was here, children were playing in the same area, people using the free store were parking in the way of people coming to dump waste and a lot of the items being brought there should have just been put in a dumpster.

So please, I’m all for a free store, but don’t put one in the landfill.

Kirk Smeeton

Whitehorse

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