Transportation Priorities

In a world with limited resources, funding, staff, consultants, and contractors how do we prioritize which projects we will undertake to develop our envisioned transportation network?

Which objectives should we prioritize as we develop our future transportation network? Safety, accessibility, sustainability, equity, fiscal prudence, affordability, or something else?

Which groups of people should we actively prioritize and consider as we develop our future transportation network (e.g. seniors, children, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, visible minorities, women, businesses, residents, visitors, the general public)?

Which modes of transportation should we actively prioritize and promote as we develop our future transportation network (e.g. walking, cycling, rolling, kick sledding, transit, driving, emergency response, goods movement)? Should we prioritize and promote walking, cycling, rolling, kick sledding, transit, driving or perhaps take a more holistic approach to consider everyone regardless of how they choose to move around?

Source: Marco te Broemmerstoet


The 3 Pillars of Transportation PlanningTransportation planning consists of assessing the existing and future potential transportation needs, identifying the capacity and constraints, developing a reasonable and feasible coordinated action plan that aligns with the community's vision, values, goals, desires, and priorities. The action plan includes strategies, actions, and projects that we should undertake in the future to develop our envisioned transportation network.

The City of Whitehorse has a range of tools to develop its envisioned transportation network and enact meaningful change. The types of tools available and some examples are shown below:

  • Transportation Policy 
    • Speed limits, rules for parking near crosswalks.
  • Safety/Maintenance/Operations
    • Traffic signal timing/programming, leading pedestrian intervals, street sweeping, snow and ice clearing.
  • Active Transporation 
    • Multi-use pathways, protected bike lanes, sidewalks.
  • Transit
    • Transit stops, transit frequency, transit routing.
  • Intersections and Crossings
    • Crosswalks, rapid flashing beacons, pedestrian activated traffic signals, smart channels, laning, right/left turns, traffic signals, roundabouts, traffic circles, all way stops.
  • Streets and Roads
    • Laning, capacity improvements.
  • Parking 
    • Signage, meters, enforcement.
  • Partnerships and Advocacy
    •  Alaska Highway through Whitehorse, Yukon Motor Vehicles Act, school travel planning

Source: Tom Flood

Address Existing and Future Potential Issues and Opportunities

Transportation plays a large role not only in how we move around, but intersects and overlaps other existing and future potential societal and community issues and opportunities such as climate change, the housing crisis, affordability, public health, or active living. Minimum parking requirements often pose a barrier to development and are known to impact the cost of housing and affordability. We can no longer assume that everyone has a vehicle or can afford a vehicle to move around the City. The cost of everything is rising including owning a vehicle, daily needs, building housing, and developing infrastructure. In Whitehorse and the Yukon broadly, our climate is changing before our eyes, requiring us to take new approaches to how we develop resilient infrastructure, manage risk, and design and maintain our streets. As one of the fastest growing cities in Canada, we are experiencing the growing pains that come with rapid growth such as traffic. And the Yukon has the second highest rate of traffic related serious life altering injuries and fatalities. The status quo can no longer remain the status quo.

Below is a list of some of the issues and opportunities that we have today and might need to anticipate in the future as it relates to transportation:

  • Housing
  • Affordability
  • Community Growth
  • Climate Change and Sustainability, Environmental Protection, Resiliency
  • Asset Management, Infrastructure Deficit
  • Traffic, Operations and Maintenance
  • Active Transportation
  • Truth and Reconciliation
  • Traffic Safety and Vision Zero
  • Accessibility, Equity
  • Local Economy, Vibrant City, and Vibrant Downtown 
  • Transit
  • Emergency Response
  • Tourism
  • New Mobility
  • Electrification
  • Transportation Demand Management
  • School Travel
  • Livability and Active Living
  • Culture and Identity

Our community faces certainly faces many challenges, however its important to recognize that with each challenge comes an opportunity for us to enact meaningful change in our transportation network.

Source: Tom Flood

Vision, Values, Goals, Desires, and Priorities

You can infer a lot about a community by how they design their streets. The design and allocation of space within streets can indicate what a community cares about, what a community values and prioritizes, and which road users a community wants to accomodate and prioritize.

Inherently, our transportation network, streets, and roads are public space that can be used for the public benefit of moving people safely and conveniently to access the places we shop, live, work, and play. As much as concrete and asphalt feel very permanent, our streets are not static and can be changed to meet changing needs and desires and reflect the vision, values, goals, and priorities for our community. The way we develop our transportation network and the way we choose to move around is often rooted in things like culture, geography, climate, societal preferences, trends, and values. And as a community changes over time, so do its values and vision. It's important to ensure that the transportation network, streets, and roads reflects the community's collective vision and desire. 

Our community vision for transportation and mobility is shaped by the recently approved Whitehorse Official Community Plan (OCP). The OCP includes vision and policy statements that set the direction for how we develop and link our community. The graphic below includes the Transportation and Mobility policy statements from the OCP. 

Whitehorse OCP - Transportation and Mobility Vision, Values and Goals

 Capacity and Constraints

Demand vs. Capacity

Fundamentally, there are upper limits and constraints to everything, and our transportation network is no exception. The City has limited sources of revenue generation such as development cost charges, property tax, user fees, and intermittent funding. The Yukon continues to experience one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. And the City strives to balance low taxation while providing the quantity and quality services that residents enjoy today.

Conversely, there is never a shortage of things we can do to improve our transportation network. Our demands typically exceed the City's capacity and budget to implement change. Our collective wish list is long, always growing, and always evolving.

This means that we sometimes have to make difficult decisions of what we will do, who we will prioritize, when we do it, and how much are we willing to pay for improvements to our transportation network (scope, time, budget). More importantly, we also have to make decisions of what we will not do or post pone to a future date as funding and capacity permit.

Constraints are a barrier, but they present an opportunity to make us come together to assess our limited resources, develop a collective vision for how we move around, and prioritize the changes and environment we wish to see as we develop our envisioned transportation network.

Rome was not built in a day, and neither will our envisioned transportation network. We need to be honest with our capacity, recognize our constraints, and remain strategic and focused so that we prioritize the changes that bring about the most value in our transportation network with the resources we have.


99% Invisible (May 16, 2023). Paved Paradise.

Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health (2020). Motor Vehicles in Yukon: A Public Health Perspective. 

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