Yukon River east side area

Yukon River east side survey

September 9, 2013. The city has posted the results of the first version of the survey. Here's a google Earth view of the city's desires. Quite an interesting read is the admin report on the survey.

"The City has a long-standing and successful working relationship with the Klondike Snowmobile Association, but the other two motorized groups are relatively new. During the course of implementation, the City should prioritize collaboration and stewardship with all motorized groups. From a foundation of shared success in working with all 3 groups, as well as positive feedback from non‐motorized groups and Riverdale residents, the City could consider expansion of the MMU network (and conversely, the NM network), on a route‐specific basis, in the future."

Doesn't seem that quiet places, neighbourhood-safe trails and a hospital trail network are in what they wanted to allow. The survey closes 4 October 2013 at 4:30pm.

There's an on-going survey open until January 25, 2013 at 4:30 pm. If you're a walker that uses the Hospital/Long Lake trails or the Chadburn/Hidden Lakes trails you should look at what's on the table for a motorized trail network. Here's my completed survey response, but first there's some larger issues to think about.

The survey is totally focussed on making as many motorized trails as possible. These will be mostly summer use motorized trails: ATVs and dirt bikes. We're still have the Snowmobile By-law that says a snowmobile can basically go wherever it wants, even on most non-motorized trails.

The task force doesn't look at walking needs. The philosophies of the city's OCP and Trail Plan — get motorized vehicles out and away seems to be being discarded. This map, built from the various survey maps and questions, shows all trails that could become motorized as red.

With the task force's sole vision of making motorized trails, the concept of quiet areas with no motorized vehicles was not addressed. Here's a couple of examples of this:

Hospital Trails

The task force should be respecting the quality of the environment in the hospital area. The task force's proposed motorized trails will compromise the area. Motorized vehicle noise will echo through the hospital and downtown area. Instead of being motorized trails, there should be trails from the hospital front door, such that people based at the hospital can have a walk on trails to balance the stress of their hospital visits. Think about a family member visiting from outside because a loved one is in the hospital. Should we welcome them with a dirt bike track? I don't think so. We can do better than that: let's have a set of well signed trails, with a variety of trail surfaces, variety of difficulties. Perhaps a reflexive, meditative hike, a healing hike, could be incorporated? Or, a walk designed around the idea of being visually impaired.

Lets look at a few trails that could become a walking network. Think of walking about 4 km per hour for a moderate pace.

A neglected user group for these trails are people living downtown. With the growth of condominiums, there are increasing number of people living downtown. The waterfront trail stops at Walmart. Trails downtown are paved. Walking can get boring. Yet, it's almost the same distance to the hospital and the start of the hospital trails from downtown as from Riverdale. The hospital trails are the downtown residents' closest forested trails. The variety, the great views from the river bluffs over downtown and Shipyards Park, Long Lake and many pothole lakes, make this a special walking area.

Surely we don't want to give up the opportunity for a city centre trail network of peaceful non-motorized trails? Whitehorse could become known for having a walking trail network at their hospital, or we could become known for having a noisy set of trails in the hospital–downtown area. This is making a healthy choice of encouraging active living, making a walkable neighbourhood. The Google Earth maps here shows a set of 'we're proud of our community' city center trail loops.

It's telling that Riverdale had two seats on the Yukon River East Side Task Force, but downtown wasn't even represented. Shortsighted?

Hidden Lakes/Chadburn/Miles Canyon area

In addition to this being our own long-time non-motorized gem of a walking area, Whitehorse has significant tourism potential developing its walking experiences here. This area is an incredible asset that has long been respected for its non-motorized character. Yukon Energy's Enjoying Whitehorse Trails says "Within minutes of a modern urban centre, you will be walking in the northern boreal forest where all sense of the city disappears."

The task force has proposed many candidate trails to become motorized in this area. The area with its hills and lakes will reflect the sound of these noisy machines. Trails and flowers will suffer. The magic and the mystery of our Wilderness City will be hard to think about. Let's think hard before abandoning values in this area.

Ball Diamond Stairs

Unlike the above-the-airport survey, the Yukon River east side survey doesn't offer people the idea of using Ball Diamond stairs. Having stairs behind the ball diamonds at Yukon Energy would open up a host of trail possibilities and encourage much broader walking participation among both downtown and Riverdale walkers. I hear from the city that they only hear me say this. If people called City Council or Parks and Recreation, maybe they'd look at this. Fill in the above-the-airport survey as well and ensure that the city center trail network is all it could be.

Survey Mapping

The supplied mapping is a bit tricky to use and doesn't show all proposed trails. Here's a close up view of the map at the top of the page, but I've used colours to correspond to the survey questions. It's a bit rough but I believe it helps answering the survey questions. There are two groups of questions:

Task Force recommended trails:

Task Force/ideas/options (note that these are trails that the majority on the task force were against):

- Enjoying Whitehorse trails, A guide to the Yukon River trails to Schwatka Lake, Miles Canyon and Canyon City, 2000

Millennium Bridge is too icy. The Millennium Trail should be routinely cleared in the winter.