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May 03 - Kananaskis River 'rocked'
The Following article was crafted by the Whitehorse Canoe and Kayak Club and was presented to the the Whitehorse City Council in January.
The basic goal of our project is the creation of an urban whitewater sport
and recreation park in the Yukon River.
In essence, a re-creation of the fabled Whitehorse Rapids.
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Access: Access to whitewater that is physically close and inexpensive to get to is key.
Our mandate is the promotion and development of canoeing and kayaking for
sport, recreation and transportation in the Yukon.
To accomplish this, we need safe and affordable access to whitewater.
We strongly believe that for paddling to further develop as a sport and as
a recreational activity, more people must become aware and interested in it .
This will be accomplished by increased accessibility.
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The proposed site of the whitewater sport and recreation park is the East
channel of the Yukon River, below the Old City Intake, adjacent to lot
number 382, group 804 in the Riverdale subdivision of Whitehorse.
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A whitewater sport and recreation park will:
Promote and develop the sport of canoeing and kayaking.
A whitewater park in Whitehorse would get a lot of walk-by traffic along the
Canada Trail and people who wouldn't normally be exposed to the sport
because of its typically wilderness setting will have an opportunity to
watch and participate in it.
Better recreational opportunities for local & visiting paddlers.
The whitewater sport and recreation park will provide paddlers of
all levels challenge and amusement. Whether gently gliding their
craft down the face of a wave or doing stern 'squirts' and 'enders',
paddlers will be able to develop and hone their boating skills while
connecting with some of moving water's most exciting hydraulics.
The sport and recreation opportunities created by the new Whitehorse
rapid is expected to quickly become the "place to play" for novice and
expert paddlers alike.
Provide a competitive training site for Yukon paddlers.
The whitewater park would be the home of the Yukon Canoe and Kayak Club
Invitational Whitewater Rodeo and training site for paddlers interested in
competing nationally and internationally. The whitewater rodeo is arguably
one of the most visually exciting and athletically challenging of sporting
events. An appropriate practice facility is critical in developing our
Provide a training site for Youth Program paddlers.
The Yukon Canoe and Kayak Club Youth Program provides youth leaders an
opportunity to teach introductory kayaking to disadvantaged youth under
supervision of experienced paddlers. All involved have benefited from the
experience. The limitation that we have encountered to date is finding an
appropriate practice site. With a close, safe and affordable place to play,
the Yukon Canoe and Kayak Club can offer the community one more
alternative for its youth to challenge themselves.
Better local whitewater training opportunities
Each year, many commercial, non-profit and educational programs provide
instruction in a wide range of whitewater activities ranging from canoeing
to river rescue and cold water survival. The difficulty all face is in
providing appropriate moving water training activities because there are no
suitable local areas. The whitewater park would provide such a location.
Enhance commercial opportunities for local businesses.
The direct impact of the whitewater park on local businesses will be similar
to that of the Mt. Sima ski hill. More people, particularly young people,
will have the opportunity to be introduced to the sport, participate and
develop their skills. As the sport of whitewater paddling demands specialized
equipment and training, local businesses will respond accordingly.
Add a unique attraction to the City's tourism infrastructure.
Urban whitewater parks are the featured attractions in a the redevelopment
of the waterfront for a surprising number of cities. Cities such as Augsburg,
Germany; South Bend, Indiana; and Durango, Colorado are examples.
The Community of South Bend even has a promotional video featuring its
Each summer, thousands of visitors to Whitehorse look
for something to do,
to see and to purchase. The whitewater park will provide enthusiasts with an
opportunity to engage in their favorite activity and sightseers a chance
to see one of our many wilderness recreational activities in action.
Enhance spawning and rearing habitat for native fish.
Adding in-water structures to the river the whitewater park would provide a
more complex pool-riffle habitat. The differing velocities should create
ideal salmon spawning habitats, if suitable gravel is available. The
in-water structures should create excellent overwintering habitat for
salmon fry by providing deep pools with cover and slack water.
Create new fishing "holes" for sport anglers
The complex pool-riffle habitat will also attract resident fish. Arctic
grayling will find the conditions created by the in-water structures ideal
habitat and are expected to take advantage of the whitewater park shortly
after construction. Sport anglers will not be far behind.
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The creation of the Whitehorse Whitewater Sport and Recreation Park
has been designed to occur over four phases. Each phase is dependent
on the successful completion of the previous phase.
In Phase 1, the YCKC (a) developed and submitted a formal proposal for
consideration by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to recreate
the Whitehorse rapids; (b) undertook a survey of cross-sections of the river
bed at the proposed site to gather detailed measurements for the engineers
to design the in-river structures and model their impact, and (c) continued
our consultations with local groups and organisations to make them aware of
our project and address any concerns raised.
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Through the generosity, time and volunteer effort of our membership,
the YCKC has been able to cover all Phase 1. costs.
In Phase 2, the YCKC will be seeking approval of the appropriate
regulatory agencies for water and land use permits, as well as submitting
for Phase 3 (Construction of the Rapids) project funding to the Government
of Yukon Community Development Fund.
Phase 4. is the ongoing operation and maintenance of the whitewater sport
and recreation park. Members will provide ongoing clean-up of the in-water
structures to remove dangerous flotsam and jetsam, as well as removing litter
and garbage from the adjacent trail and access points.
The Yukon Canoe and Kayak Club is committed to the ongoing maintenance
of the Park to ensure the continued integrity of the in-water structures and
protection of the newly developed spawning channels. To that end we are
actively developing partnerships with local businesses and organisations
that would directly benefit from the Park to commit to establishing a
contingency fund to pay for additional work, should the need arise.
We have received Letters of
Support by the following organizations:
TIA Yukon - Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon
WTAY -Wilderness Tourism Association of the Yukon
Yukon Tourism Department - John Spicer
Fish & Game Association
Frank Davidson -Outdoor Educations Teacher of F.H. Collins High School
Bob Sharp - Experiential Science Program
Jim Boyd - Teacher Aces program
Alan Dallaire - Pace Program
Bruce Thompson - F.H. Collins PE Dept. Head
Russ Tait- Outdoor Educations Teacher of Vanier Junior High School
Whitehorse District Search and Rescue Society
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October 23, 1998 was the date we finally received
all the necessary permits and approvals to start a two year pilot project in the
hopes of creating an urban whitewater playground in the city limits.
ABOVE: No, it's not ice, but it was snowing on this cold October day when Bob Daffe (foreground) directed the contractor on where to put this large chunk of granite from the nearby abandoned copper quarry. Yukon News photo by Mike Thomas
ABOVE:Bob Daffe of the Canoe and Kayak Club immerses himself in the task of releasing a cable from a boulder being submerged in the Yukon River Thursday. Three boulders were placed by a crane at the old intake in Riverdale to create a better play and training area for kayakers. Yukon News photo by Mike Thomas
ABOVE: A couple days after. We had to go back in and add a few more boulders, and some 3 inch gravel to seal the spur. Photo by D.Law