In summer 2018, the City of Whitehorse passed a new Trail Development Policy to help the City achieve its objectives regarding public safety, user conflict avoidance, and environmental stewardship, when it comes to building new trails (note: this policy does not apply to maintenance of existing trails).
This policy acknowledges that the City does not have the capacity to maintain and manage all trails that have been built or will be built within municipal boundaries. The City now requires all new trails to be authorized by Council, and for a Trail Use Agreement to be signed between the trail steward building the trail and the City of Whitehorse.
The policy outlines two situations where approval will only be granted when the proponent building the trail accepts the responsibility for ongoing trail inspection and maintenance:
- If the trail inter-connects with existing City trails, but City management of the trail would not be possible; or
- If the trail is not part of or integrated with the existing City trail network.
The new policy also outlines the full process of trail development approval, including an environmental review, when public engagement processes would be triggered, and trail building standards and guidelines.
What does this mean for CMBC?
Trail development and maintenance has entered a new paradigm in Whitehorse. As with most municipalities in Canada, the City of Whitehorse has followed the trend of great oversight and regulation guided by liability and interest in municipal lands being used and valued by residents. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and the opportunity for CMBC is to understand and work within this new framework in the interest of CMBC members with an eye to the common interests of all City residents.
Ultimately, if a Trail Use Agreement is required, the proponent has to demonstrate its capacity to take on inspection and maintenance responsibilities. In most cases, this means a trail steward such as CMBC needs to take on the responsibility of inspection and maintenance.
Recognizing that CMBC is entirely volunteer-run (including the building and maintaining of trails) and that:
- All trails being built need a champion to see the project through from start to finish;
- The volunteer base likely won’t support the development of all the potential new trails that members are suggesting/proposing; and
- New trail builds will require a commitment from CMBC for inspection and maintenance (in most cases),
Therefore, CMBC wanted to undertake some priority-setting for trail development with our members so that allocation of finite resources was strategic.