promoting walks and walking in Whitehorse, the Yukon's wilderness city
A brief look at Zoning

While submitted for the Zoning By-law rewrite in 2012, I believe most of this is still quiet relevant.

June 25, 2012
Re Zoning By-law draft.

I have a number of points to make. I'm writing this as a Hillcrest walker. As I develop my website, I'm struck by the need for more initiatives with a walking focus. In particular, walking trails with a recreation/enjoyment focus need special attention.

>> ONE. All connector greenbelt pieces in the city should be clearly marked on zoning maps. I'm attaching two maps, one for downtown/Riverdale, and the second for the above-the-airport neighbourhoods. Both maps are works in progress, completely unproofed and approximate. I created them in Google Earth using draft 2 Zoning maps: 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 as overlays. The red transparency is highlighting PR, PG and PW zoning. I've not included PE, PS at this point, nor all core trails. Icons are draft concepts to see scope needed for marking destinations. A sense of walking distances will need to be included also.

The idea is that there are many walkers who walk longer distances but don't know the trails. People shouldn't need to drive to go for a walk. Also, people will walk more in their own neighbourhoods if they know both destinations (such as playgrounds and trail heads), and the non-street routes to access these places. Presently these inner-neighbourhood connectors are often not known. I walked with one resident who didn't even know she had one of these connector trails a few doors down on the other side of her street.

If Zoning were able to make this an easy to understand zoning layer, then the community could ensure that each entrance was properly marked as a corridor trail and these maps could be further developed.

>> TWO. Edmonton is built along a river and has managed to preserve a vast swatch as greenbelt alongside the river. From wikipedia:

"Edmonton's river valley constitutes the longest stretch of connected urban parkland in North America, and Edmonton has the highest per capita area of parkland of any Canadian city; the river valley is 22 times larger than New York City's Central Park. The public river valley parks provide a unique urban escape area, with park styles ranging from fully serviced urban parks to campsite-like facilities with few amenities. This main "Ribbon of Green" is supplemented by numerous neighbourhood parks located throughout the city, to give a total of 111 km2 of parkland. Within the 7,400 ha, 25 km-long river valley park system, there are 11 lakes, 14 ravines, and 22 major parks, and most of the city has accessible bike and walking trail connections. These trails are also part of the 235 km Waskahegan walking trail. The City of Edmonton has named five parks in its River Valley Parks System in honour of each of "The Famous Five".
"Several golf courses, both public and private, are also located in the river valley; the long summer daylight hours of this northern city provide for extended play from early morning well into the evening. Golf courses and the park system become a winter recreation area during this season, and cross-country skiing and skating are popular during the long winter. Four downhill ski slopes are located in the river valley as well, two within the city and two immediately outside."

Let's look ahead a few years. So also has the city looked ahead for growth of development, we should also look ahead for growth of a walking culture. Whitehorse needs some focus along the river. A Yukon River Corridor walking trail (draft shown to right) would be a real coup for our city. Some of the land that the trail would pass through is KDFN land and obviously KDFN would be a major player in such a trail.

Alongside the river needs special zoning. A good example of this is at Whistle Bend. At Whistle Bend, the PE-zoned land is not always the best place for a trail. So there should be an additional PW-, PG- designated band for a corridor trail. The zoning presently proposed has a lot of land designated as FP. FP does allow trail development, but this puts off the choice of having a Yukon River Corridor Trail onto future city planners. In short, it makes it needlessly complicated in coming years to create a corridor trail if the zoning doesn't specifically designate it.

Additionally, if the city finds itself on the opposite side of the river needing land for development, then the river corridor trail on the other side of the river should also have already been protected. Perhaps then we won't find ourselves in situations such as Marwell where industrial contamination, and storage of old equipment takes priority over recreational walking.


>> THREE. The Shipyards/Marwell area. The map on the right shows trails as blue lines, red is PW waterfront. The city is growing along the shipyard area with seniors' residences and condominiums. Where these new residents will walk is not clear. While the waterfront trail towards Rotary Park will be a nice walk, people like variety and will quickly be wanting to walk other places. Likewise, with the new KDFN Cultural Centre on the waterfront, river walks will become increasingly important, especially trails that lead to the large wetland complex just past Marwell, only 3 km downstream.

Following along from point number two (above) about a Yukon River Corridor Trail, some sort of zoning should be in place that signals the city's desire to reclaim a waterfront trail. As the Marwell contaminated site is cleaned up, the space for a trail should be in place for all future planning. Likewise for the other waterfront industrial lots, the city should be insuring that a waterfront trail can go through the area.


>> FOUR. Spook Creek/lower escarpment area trail. The planned lower escarpment trail runs from the South Access and ends at the Black Street stairs. Zoning should allow a corridor extending the lower escarpment trail along the base of the escarpment across to the intersection of 2nd and 4th avenues by Northern Metallic. From there, zoning should allow building a small park/parkette with paved trail, lighting and benches along the Spook Creek drainage easement across the now empty field between the car dealerships and the current shops on 4th Avenue to get to Spook Creek Station. This will connect the escarpment to the waterfront and provide walkers with a great new set of loop trail walks. It might even encourage the Walmart campers to venture out of their safe haven and see our city!

>> FIVE. I presented at an earlier stage of the zoning update process that there are places where trails are being overtaken by development. Given existing trail situations and constraints to trail placement, it would seem that designation of a corridor PG-style zoning would ensure that trail walking is foremost in importance as development continues in this area.


>> SIX. The trail to the rock gardens needs protection as part of thinking about this future City Park.


Peter Long