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Mark Rendell

City Briefs: Old Town Congestion Won't Be Solved Soon

City wants to spend the summer studying before coming up with a solution

Two weeks after City Council nixed the idea of putting parking spots across from The Woodyard, questions about congestion in Old Town were back on the agenda.

When the decision was made not to add 13 angled parking spots along the Old Town portion of Franklin Ave., the hope was to funnel traffic to the triangular lot on the corner of School Draw and Franklin. Now, however, that lot is piled high with construction equipment and materials.

“It was also noted by myself and some other councillors that perhaps that parking lot alone is not going to be enough to solve the problem,” said Coun. Julian Morse, who asked for the discussion to happen at Monday’s Municipal Services Committee meeting.

“We’re taking 16 [sic] spots and not replacing them with any, so I don’t think  parking is going to be an issue in seven years, I think it’s going to be an issue this summer. I think it’s probably an issue now,” added Coun. Niels Konge.

According to City SAO Dennis Kefalas, administration is going to spend the summer looking at traffic patterns, road width and the like, and come forward with parking recommendations in the fall.  

“In order to do a proper assessment it will take some time. We just don’t want to run with this and come up with a half-baked idea in terms of what places parking would go… I don’t want to rush through this and come back with an idea that may address the short-term solution but create a problem in the future.”

In the immediate future, the equipment in the School Draw/Franklin lot should be gone by August, after which, funding permitted, the lot will be tidied up, levelled and have signage added. Boaters leaving their trailers along the shoulder of Franklin Ave. are being encouraged to use the boat launch over by Giant Mine instead of the one in Old Town. And we could also see an increase in MED officers patrolling the area to prevent illegal parking on the residential streets around the Brewpub, said Kefalas, adding that “if someone is parking across your driveway you should be contacting MED, and they’ll usually dispatch someone almost immediately to help deal with that issue.”

Watt’s up

City council is set to decide whether or not to acquire a thin strip of land running parallel to Morrison Drive on Latham Island, in order to improve water access and deal with the issue of floatplane dock leases.

The parcel, known as Watt Drive, runs between the houses on Morrison and Back Bay, and is zoned as a road, which was never actually built. Currently, it’s owned by the GNWT, though the memo from City admin states that “The GNWT has generally agreed to transfer the municipal road parcels to the City,” once the parcel has been properly surveyed.

Should the council vote to acquire the land, it could be used as “a municipal road, trail or part of the City’s park and recreation land,” the memo states.

There’s also hope, according to Jeff Humble, the City’s director of Planning and Development, that acquiring the land may make it easier for the City to come up with some sort of licensing arrangement for the docks along the shoreline near Watt Drive.  

“The crux of the issue is that we lease that land from the Territorial Government, and generally all of the leases state the land is to be used for municipal purposes… so the question becomes whether leasing to private interests is even an option [unless we acquire fee simple title].”

Humble is expecting to hear back from the GNWT’s Department of Lands about allowable land uses in the coming weeks.

During the discussion, Coun. Linda Bussey asked if there’s a general intention “to move forward and take ownership of more and more of the land” that’s not currently owned by the City.

“We’d like to,” responded Mayor Mark Heyck. “But that’s largely dependent on the GNWT Department of Lands.”