Walking ideas for Downtown and Marwell

June 12, 2017. Here's my submission to the planning folk after our day of meetings.

April 23, 2017. A planning process is happening with a goal of Top 10 Action Ideas for Downtown. And there are other plans in process (see sidebar). I've made a 3-page introductory PDF called DT-walking. You can print it on tabloid paper. It's being continually updated to allow more focus on the area people will want to walk for nature. The map can be blown-up as a poster for public events, discussions.

The plans will set in place community goals for years to come. While it all seems complex to follow, it's important to know the background. I've linked some relevant documents in the sidebar. My purpose here is to show that for Downtown residents, the nearest recreational walking happens across the river.

Rather than continually change the map and numbering scheme, for now I'll add in points as I hear them


Whitehorse is at the cusp of growth. This is a prefect time to look at the future of walking for people who are downtown. The following projects are happening in this part of town. I want to ensure that recreational walking is on the table.

"For the downtown to evolve beyond nine to five, (where workers arrive in the morning and leave at the end of the workday) more people need to live downtown. Without more residents, some businesses may not risk locating to downtown Whitehorse."(Downtown Development Incentives Assessment)

In Hillcrest, I love that I can step out my door and walk in the woods, without driving. I like variety, longer hikes.

A good test for our wilderness city is whether we need to drive to get to our daily recreational walk in the woods. When we think healthy lifestyles and walkability, we mustn't only think of active transportation, wider sidewalks and snow removal, paved paths and street calming. Clearly known walking routes from Downtown to the Canada Games Centre or the College – Arts Centre can make us more of a walking community. These active transportation routes are quite important for urban cyclists going to work, to school.

However, my focus is more on neighbourhood walking, recreational walking, in particular, connectivity to forests, to nature. Obviously, this is also very desirable for cyclists. In our modern busy world, family friendly walks can allow parents to re-introduce nature into children's lives — and vice versa!

Recreational walking is important for today's and future downtown residents, as well as those workers with a daytime break who seek daily exercise in nature. Often for walkers, the journey is as important as the destination. Whitehorse is a dream place to live, and lifestyles with close connections to nature can benefit some employment sectors, such as the knowledge sector.

A downtown question: Have you ever been at the wharf after an evening event, and watched the evening sunlight on the high clay cliffs across the river? Did you wish that you could easily cross over and walk the hills, go to Long Lake?

An exciting waterfront opportunity is to build a pedestrian bridge from downtown to the hospital, accessing the Long Lake, Magnusson and Grey Mountain trail network.

In winter, one could shelter from the biting winds along the waterfront by crossing to the forest trails on the east side.

As the Rotary Centennial Bridge did for the Millennium Trail, a downtown footbridge will not only be an iconic landmark, it will create foot traffic for Main Street and the waterfront from both locals and visitors. Could it make an artistic statement?

"Top day activity while in Whitehorse: Nature walk or hike

"Enabler of longer visits: More events; Less expensive overall; More activities; More attractions open; Significant portion of visitors indicated willingness to come more often, spend more, stay longer and recommend city more proactively if additional day product and better marketing were in place."  (Tourism and Visitor Development in Downtown Whitehorse)

What else can we do? Designating a city-wide Yukon River Trail (YRT) on both sides of the river and then working to connect the many existing pieces will be popular.

Another priority will be to waymark our main trails, to the level that both residents and visitors stay happily, confidently, not lost. Signage need not dominate the views.

More use of 'easier routes' to avoid trail conflicts, address needs of seniors and others with joint issues and, especially, to make trail surface sustainable. This will also allow many more loop walk possibilities for more people, such as family groups.

Finally, designating the Hepburn Tramway as a Historical Walk, connecting the Millennium Trail to Miles Canyon as part of the Yukon River Trail will firmly establish us as a walking destination.

Downtown residents are well-placed to be stewards of the trails on the East side of the river. Downtown, in conjunction with Riverdale and area schools, could work as a solid Yukon River East Trail Stewardship group. Could we develop more youth trail work groups like the Youth Achievement Centre?

Walking is easily the most common form of exercise. The city has spent a lot of energy building a major trail system across the river, a perfect walking destination. A pedestrian bridge can ensure these nature trails are solidly connected to Downtown. 

Peter Long, WhitehorseWalks.com, April 21, 2017

Whitehorse, a growing community

Downtown issues from a walking perspective

Some things to read

Some quotes

Resource Development Preparedness Strategy 2016:

"Whitehorse's development as an urbane, highly liveable city with a quality of life comparable to much larger centres in the south is a comparative advantage that has not yet been properly marketed and promoted both...

"...many "pull" factors – chief among them wilderness and vibrant arts and culture – serve as important leverage points in attracting the innovators and knowledge sector professionals that will help diversify the local economy and remedy its imbalances over the long-term

"Previous studies of knowledge workers in the Yukon have illustrated the importance of so-called "lifestyle" amenities to their decision to relocate to and stay in Whitehorse (Voswinkel, 2012). Economic diversification is a complex objective that lends itself to ongoing City participation and support; where the matter of creating a liveable community is concerned, the City is positioned to lead."

Ensure the pending updates to the Parks and Recreation and Trails master plans give due consideration to increasing third party/community stewardship and co-management opportunities.

Survey of Yukon’s Knowledge Sector 2012:

"attributes that best describe lifestyle in Yukon, we identified five:"Quality of Life and Place – By far, this theme was most often cited as the asset for the area and the reason that there is confidence towards new and continued economic growth. People appreciate their healthy, active and safe lifestyle with access to hospitals, schools, recreation, theatre, culture, recreation, park areas, heritage facilities and events. The small town atmosphere was considered a treasure and one that is carefully guarded from urban practices and a big box mentality. There was a desire to create more events in the off seasons to make the area a four season destination." (Millier Dickinson Blais Inc. 2008, p. 18)

"A survey by the Yukon Public Service Commission in 2007 found: "A sense of adventure and the opportunity to enjoy a more active or outdoors lifestyle were identified by approximately 70% of all candidates and new hires as key factors that attracted them to the Yukon" (p.8).

"I moved here because I had always wanted to live in the mountains and there are recreational possibilities in the Yukon that you can't find elsewhere." "The nature, the outdoors, the people and culture are why I moved here. The adventurist minded people that live here and the talent in the Arts is really what attracted me."

"It's a better work-life balance here and a healthier lifestyle. You're more inclined to walk.

Tourism and Visitor Development in Downtown Whitehorse, 2012

Top day activity while in Whitehorse: Nature walk or hike

Enabler of longer visits: More events; Less expensive overall; More activities; More attractions open; Significant portion of visitors indicated willingness to come more often, spend more, stay longer and recommend city more proactively if additional day product and better marketing were in place.


This web page will be in constant flux for a while. For simplicity, I've started this new page, rather than update my previous Downtown Marwell walking page. Much of the material on the older page is still quite relevant and good background.