As I turn from Mountain View Drive and toward our Whistle Bend home, I am yet again gobsmacked by the sudden and looming sight of the mountains on the far side of the Yukon River.
Blue in the mornings, pink at night and otherwise brilliantly lit against a vivid indigo background of so much sky, it is sometimes moody with rolling and churning of its own weather.
Often I see my neighbours and visitors pulled over to the side of the road here to take in this ever-changing sight. If they travel a little further to the bottom of the hill where Whistle Bend proper begins, where Whistle Bend Way and Range Roads meet, there is a recently completed parking area at the trailheads of the many spidering paths that explore the Eagle Bay Park. It doubly serves as a lookout over the Yukon River where it meets McIntyre Creek.
As Whitehorse’s newest neighbourhood, it has become, automatically it seems, the subject of much criticism.
Whistle Benders (Whistle Bendians? Whistle Bendites?) know this criticism comes from those who have not visited here… lately.
True, I thought Whistle Bend was a vast wasteland when my wife and I first visited in the fall of 2013. Six months later, when we could not find a reasonably priced house elsewhere, we returned to find it transformed in our eyes.
Its wide-open spaces allow a clear, almost magical, light. Streets are wide and houses do not hug the curb to allow for large backyards hidden away from neighbours.
Indeed, each home has a porch, which is that personal space for each of us that, at the same time, also welcomes passersby to stop for a chat.
When walkers want solace, there are the kilometres and kilometres of paved trails all around Whistle Bend that are now lined with grass.
I would think that the house that is furthest from a paved trail is the Evergreen Homes and Construction’s show home at Summerhill. Even so, it is just a two-minute walk from this house until the forest welcomes its future inhabitants.
The gem in the centre of Whistle Bend has to be the pond. Nicely landscaped, it is a place to walk your dog and greet your neighbours.
A playground will soon be built in the far corner. Until then, children (and adults) have been enjoying the impromptu toboggan hill down to the pond that now features two ice rinks that have popped up.
Yes, Whistle Bend has some issues: Hydrologists haven’t figured out the flow of water to the pond… but they will.
And that pond needs an aeration system that works. Those of us who live here were hoping for a fountain but we didn’t get it. A city official, however, told me it could still happen if enough people advocate for it and/or engineers deem it the best solution.
And sand blows everywhere. But, as more houses are built, this problem is slowly going away.
I see a lot of pride in Whistle Bend. On Skookum Drive, where townhouses are literally selling faster than Empress Homes can build them, every resident dutifully shovels the sidewalk out front. I have never seen this on another street to this extent.
We take pride in Whistle Bend partly because the Yukon Government and the City of Whitehorse demonstrably take pride in it. All last summer, convoys of trucks came in with new trees to be planted along the roads or in the mini-parks throughout. Wherever there is a cul-de-sac, there is a pleasant array of trees, benches and paths winding through it.
Fortunately, with a continuing care facility being built in Whistle Bend, we won’t have to leave.