Whitehorse ski club introduces season passes for dogs
For the first time, the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club says members who want to ski with their dog must buy a ski pass for their pet.
The new $20 season pass for dogs is just one of several hotly-debated changes to dog rules at the club.
"When you take where we were 30 years ago, a few hundred members and not too many dogs, to where we are now, 1,300 members and a lot of dogs, it's inevitable that there's going to be conflict," said club president Anne Kennedy.
Kennedy says the club charges fees for all other users of the trails, including skiers, snowshoers and winter bicyclists.
"Charging a fee to have a dog on the trail is consistent with all other users of the trail system," she said.
The season pass would cost a ski club member $20 for one dog, and $5 for additional dogs. A dog day pass would cost $2 per dog.
Last year skiers were told to leash their dogs for the first several hundred metres of trail access. A petition ensued, then a working group. This season the same rule applies on the main dog trail.
"The off-leash area for skiers who want to have their dog off-leash will be Sun Dog trail and that will be accommodating two-way traffic," said Kennedy.
The club says the fees from the dog passes will go to paying for improvements — a hitching post for dogs, grading work and widening of trails.
Sue Richards, a club member who skis with a dog, says she doesn't see the point in paying more.
"We only have one trail here we can access as a dog owner, until we get out further past Harvey's hut and so they're now charging me $20 more for my dog but yet I don't really see what I'm getting more for $20."
Cord Hamilton says it seems like a punitive fee.
"They have not sought any input from the membership at large to do this," he said. "We're not saying that a dog fee has to be off the table but it has to be discussed and understood. What's the rationale for this and how does this work in the greater scheme of solving the problem which might be fiscal issues."
Hamilton also says the improvements aren't just for the dog community.
"If there are improvements made on other trails that dog skiers don't routinely use, we're not going to say 'Well jeez, you should just ask the racers to pay for that because you know we don't go there,'" he said.
"That's not a way of building consensus and a community in the club. It's a path to conflict."
The ski club will hold its annual general meeting Oct. 1 — and Hamilton says he will be there to raise the issue of the new dog fee.