Ingraham Trail Association incorporated
Residents now have an official organization to represent them

Dane Gibson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 19/99) - There were many issues on the minds of Ingraham Trail residents, but it started because of the Tibbett Lake fires of last year.

During that chaotic time, emergency response agencies had a difficult time communicating with residents along the Ingraham Trail and vice-versa.

A nine-member board has recently formed to steer the Ingraham Trail Association, which has officially been registered as a society. They will take the place of a similar Ingraham Trail Organization that formed a number of years ago.

"The fires scared everybody so the community decided to come together for protection and emergency response," interim director Pat McMahon said.

"The emergency measures organizations who responded to the fires didn't have a venue to pass information along. I think the people who have property in the area feel if they had an organization, they could have received critical information faster and more reliably."

Other topics they plan to tackle include the condition of the 70-kilometre Ingraham Trail itself. Interim vice-president, David Wind, said there's accidents every year because of poor road conditions.

"Accidents occur on the Ingraham Trail partly because it goes from partially paved, to paved, to no paving. People are getting hurt," Wind said.

"Without the association, it remains up to individuals to express their concern about the road. With an association, we can speak with a unified voice."

McMahon estimates there are 300 permanent and 1,200 seasonal residents in the Ingraham Trail area. The hope is the association will bring increased communication with the GNWT, who are responsible for collecting Ingraham Trail property taxes. "Property taxes are low but so are the services we receive," Wind said.

"What we're looking for is to find areas where there's a deficiency. We can then address those areas one at a time."

McMahon said the people who live in the Ingraham Trail area chose to do so, but they deserve a basic level of service.

"It's critical to address specific emergency services in order to provide a safe living area, but there's never been a venue to bring these issues forward and make them a priority in the government's eyes," McMahon said.

"We want to be more effective and have a better understanding of territorial government concerns. At the same time, we want them to have a better understanding of our concerns. That will open a dialogue with the GNWT that's meaningful."

The only criteria for membership in the newly- formed association is you have to be a landowner in the Ingraham Trail area. Yellowknife Dene have indicated they won't sit on the board, but a seat has been permanently set aside for them. Interim organizers are preparing for a meeting in the near future, at which time permanent board members will be elected.