Athletics Yukon pushes for winter trail maintenance

Athletics Yukon wants people to use a pair of Whitehorse trails this winter, without requiring snowshoes.

Athletics Yukon wants people to use a pair of Whitehorse trails this winter, without requiring snowshoes.

The governing body for running sports in the territory is preparing to submit a proposal to Whitehorse city council for city crews to maintain two paved trails in town during the winter months.

The trails are the five-kilometre Millennium Trail and the roughly three-kilometre Riverfront Trail that runs from Rotary Peace Park to the juncture of Quartz Road and Chilkoot Way.

“We sat down a few months ago and thought, what are the resources that our membership want to use in the town? And one that fairly consistently comes up is winter trail maintenance,” said Athletics Yukon president David Eikelboom. “The Millennium Trail and the river trail, from Rotary Park to Earls (Restaurant), stand out as ones that would be really valuable. So we basically started putting together the plan – what it would take to have those maintained in the winter.

“As we were going through that, we noticed there were several things that need to happen, the biggest one being a proposal to City Hall to have the city maintain those. At the political level, we do have some support for that.”

However, before making a case at city council, Athletics Yukon wants to gauge the potential support from other groups as well as from individuals.

If other groups, such as Winter Active Yukon, ElderActive or Contagious Mountain Biking Club, for instance, support the idea, Athletics Yukon hopes together they can present a united front to council.

“Right now we’re trying to figure out which other groups in Whitehorse have vested interest in the same thing: in winter trail maintenance for non-motorized use,” said Eikelboom.

“We want to make Athletics Yukon – call it a rallying point – for various organizations so we can put our heads together and present to city council, here is what the people want. These are the groups that are using the trails, this is what they are using them for, this is how using these trails will be a valuable asset to the organization’s goals.”

The athletics group also wants to hear from individuals with no association to a group. The way Eikelboom sees it, having the trails cleared of snow and ice during the winter would benefit dog-walkers, the disabled, the elderly, commuters, and more.

“One area we think is important is accessibility,” said Eikelboom. “Someone who is able-bodied will be able to walk on the trails, but lets say someone has a stroller, immediately those trails are no long accessible for them.

“Walking on them should be OK, but someone with poor balance or a member of the elderly community is going to have more trouble using those trails in the winter. Or from a training perspective, those trails are simply not useable for more training-based running. There’s more risk that is inherent when running on them in the winter.”

Athletics Yukon is not looking for every inch of paved trail to be cleaned of snow, simply a path wide enough to jog on, said Eikelboom. A sidewalk snow cleaner would do the job.

“I think even just one loop around there would be perfect,” said Eikelboom.

If you would like to share your thoughts with Athletics Yukon, contact them by email at

athleticsyukon@gmail.com. Athletics Yukon has not set a firm timeline on when the proposal will be made.

“I imagine it’ll be few more weeks, in which time hopefully people can approach us to collect that information so that we can do that in such a way to represent everybody’s interests,” said Eikelboom.

“There are obviously other trails in town and we’d be interested in hearing from other groups using other trails within city limits, to try to understand which trails have the highest need. Just because the group doesn’t use the Millennium Trail doesn’t mean we don’t want to hear from them.”

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

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