Whistle Bend, walking trails and the Yukon River Corridor Trail

November 12, 2012. After realizing the importance of the Whistle Bend area in a Yukon River Corridor Trail, I've been looking more at its trails in light of the new draft Zoning By-law. Lines on a map are useful, but I'd like to walk there with someone who knows the trails. There are a few aspects about Whistle Bend I'm curious about. What neighbourhood trails will there be? How will the area connect to other parts of the city and can a Yukon River Cooridor Trail pass through.

As an bit of preamble, let me say that construction of the infrastructure of Phase 1 is just starting. Trails will be nebulous as the city priority of construction of the infrastructure will take precedence over trails. I believe in addition to the city's planned 5 phases, items that can affect future development includes an existing lease for a possible golf course expansion, planned rehabilition of the decommissioned Porter Creek sewage lagoons, two FN land blocks (Kwanlin Dün and Ta'an Kwäch'an), a privately owned and developable land block (the Heiland family), and the Horse and Rider Club Association's possible move to the rehabilitated sewage lagoon. However, a new Zoning By-law is working it's way to being adopted by City Council these days. Changing Zoning will be more difficult in the city's agenda. So now is the time to look ahead and ensure that trails will be protected and can be rebuilt in an ethetically useful manner as this area grows.

So first, let's look at Whistle Bend as it was. The 2009 Whistle Bend Subdivision environmental and socio-economic Assessment Report is a good start. "...Study Area is mainly used as a year-round recreational area, for activities such as dogwalking, skiing, bird watching, golfing, and motorized vehicles. ... there is a fairly extensive existing trail network." These trails are shown on the first map (Fig. 6 in the report).

Then there's a map showing the greenspace concept. At completion of all the phases, there's projected to be between 8,500 and 10,000 people. Development will use 250 of the 750 ha. "On-site activities will include pedestrian corridors, parks, trails, walkways. A bike trail connecting Whistle Bend has been planned to encourage sustainable transportation in the early phases of development. This trail will be a 3m wide asphalted trail running parallel with Mountain View Drive to the Range Road intersection. A short 400 m section of this trail will generally follow an existing trail except where more suitable grades are required. Also a large network of existing paths and trails for walking and biking in the Whistle Bend neighbourhood will be maintained or upgraded."

Table 3 in the report says for the Paved Perimeter Trail "completion suspected to be post-Phase2" June, 2013. Parts of the paved perimeter trail have been installed.

Table 4 Construction Phase says about recreation:

Potential effect
• Loss/disruption of short sections of existing bush trails
• Reduced aesthetic values (visual, tranquility, solitude)
• Direct loss of sections of trail network as result of on-site development activities
• Increased noise and disturbance will reduce recreational aesthetic values
• Project design avoids majority of trail network and incorporates greenways to maintain thoroughfares through the development, as shown on Figure 6. Where necessary, trails will be relocated.
• Project design in conjunction with May 2007 Plebiscite and Master Plan Approval ensured that 50% of WB Study Area be maintained for recreational purposes (including greenspace)
• Disturbance associated with construction is temporary
• Not significant
• Majority of existing trail network is maintained
• Disruption of recreational use during construction is temporary and unavoidable.

Table 4 Operations Phase says about recreation:

Potential effect
• Loss of existing recreational trails and aesthetic values
• Permanent loss of portions of existing trail network
• lncreased noise and disturbance will reduce recreational aesthetic values for existing recreational users at Mountain View golf course and along Yukon River.
• No Special Places identified in the baseline studies are encompasses by the Phase I and II project At least 50% of the Study Area hes been retained for recreational purposes. The Project design avoids majority of trail network and incorporates greenways to maintain thoroughfares through the development
• Informal recreational use along escarpment and this area is zoned PE - protecting it in an undisturbed state.
• The Perimeter Trail (around the development site) will be paved, and serve to enhance local recreational opportunities for Whistle Bend residents.
• See above comments under Wildlife Diversity and Habitat
• Golf course remains undisturbed by Project.
• Project location is setback from the escarpment above the Yukon River; therefore it will not be visible from the river, resulting in no change to viewscape from the river.
• Not significant

Now let's look at the draft Zoning Map and the zoning map overlaid on it