Mark Rendell
Mark Rendell

City Briefs: Canada Winter Games, Northlands, and Grace Lake

Council adopts the latest minutes from the Games committee, gets set to start the Northlands levy and inches forward on the Grace Lake trail.

The Games, still

Given the lukewarm support from city councillors for the 2023 Canada Winter Games during this fall’s election, you might think the whole project was dead in the water. But the committee charged with analyzing the games has been quietly chugging along, with their final report expected some time in February.

At Monday’s Municipal Services Committee meeting, council adopted the minutes from the last two Winter Games meetings, which took place in December. The minutes don’t offer any numbers or analysis (which will hopefully be in the final report), but they do indicate several of the things which are at the front of the committee’s mind:

1) The biggest risks may lie in building an athletes village and finding thousands of people to volunteer for the event.

2) Another major challenge is finding sufficient hotel accommodation for coaches, spectators and volunteers and others. As the minutes from Dec. 3 note: “March marks the busiest time of year for aurora tourism, which has also been showing yearly increases; likewise, personnel supporting winter road operations also occupy hotel rooms during that period.” Possible solutions, suggested in the minutes, include “home stay programs, as well as coordinating the use of other facilities (schools) to serve as hostel-like arrangements for visitors.”

3) The business community is still skeptical about the endeavour. The Dec. 3 minutes suggest “lack of dialogue/communication from the City in terms of process, poor experiences for businesses during the Arctic Winter Games, and interference with aurora tourism,” as the principal concerns of Yellowknife business people.

4) If the games do go ahead, there won’t be any alpine sports – basically no skiing or snowboarding out in Bristol Pit. Hosts are allowed to forgo certain sports if they add others in, so long as there’s a total of 21 sports.

Mayor Mark Heyck said the final report would come sometime in February, after which council would be tasked with deciding on whether to put in an official statement of intent to host the games.

Northlands levy to begin

During a five-minute special committee meeting on Monday, council voted to start collecting the levy from Northlands Trailer Park residents to pay back the $15.5 million loan they took out to repair the park’s failing water system.

For the next 25 years, residents will be paying $283.27 a month, a number significantly lower than the $358 a month that was predicted.

With this vote, it’s expected that the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation will start making mortgages available again to residents of the trailer park – something they haven’t done since 2010.   

Trail along Grace Lake

Despite some argument several months back over whether to run a public trail along the south side of Grace Lake or extend the new lots to the water’s edge, council inched the trail plan forward with little debate on Monday.

The idea is for the City to lease a strip of Commissioner’s Land roughly 30 meters wide along the shoreline, “for the purposes of a public recreational trail.”

When the previous council discussed the plan back in August, several councillors suggested that a single waterfront park be put into the new subdivision and the other lots extended to the water. The argument, as put forward by Coun. Adrian Bell, was that the strip of land along the water’s edge was too rocky and precarious for a trail.

“What we’re talking about here is not a new Niven Lake or Frame Lake Trail, it’s an area that’s going to be accessible only to those who are willing to gear up with rock-climbing equipment and get a little extreme in there,” said Bell.

This argument didn’t come up at today’s meeting, but may well resurface when the issue comes back to council in the coming weeks for a vote.