Opposition silenced
Council addresses facility location concerns

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

Inuvik (May 05/00) - In unanimously passing second reading on two bylaws regarding the proposed Inuvik female young offenders facility, town council did so in the face of some opposition.

Among those opposed to the proposed construction site -- in the urban reserve east of Wolverine Road at Centennial Street -- was resident Allan Fehr.

In a written submission followed by an oral presentation, Fehr said his opposition was based on economics and concern for green space.

"I'm not opposed to the general location, just the specific one," he said, "but we need to take a larger, holistic view of development."

Fehr argued it would be more cost-effective to build on the site of the former Dave Jones arena, since the foundation has already proven stable. He added that building on that site, west of Wolverine Road and closer to the centre of town, would also allow for the proposed site to remain an unspoiled part of the green space ringing Inuvik and leave it open to recreational use.

In discussing the matter, council said it did not buy those arguments. Coun. Denny Rogers said the Dave Jones site has already been targeted as an area for future residential development -- dependent on town growth -- and that recreational trails can be located elsewhere than the proposed site.

Coun. Derek Lindsay agreed.

"If we keep talking about recreational property, this town will never grow," said Lindsay. "Are we going to be a community of walkers, skiers and snowmobiles or is this community going to grow?"

In making his argument, Fehr, who was backed up by resident Dev Sharma, made it clear he was not against the facility but simply its location.

Other points voiced in a petition signed by some 40 Wolverine Road residents, however, included concerns such as the unsightliness of a new facility may be an eyesore, depressed property values, danger of inmates escaping and danger to neighbourhood children.

Council addressed those concerns prior to passing second reading of the bylaws.

Coun. Rogers said the petitioners may have been a "little misinformed" in worrying about inmates escaping from the facility, since it's designed to integrate teenage girls into the community.

Coun. Lindsay said the structure would not stand out in an unattractive way and not be visible to most Wolverine Road residents.

Deputy mayor Peter Clarkson said the idea of choosing this location was that the facility would not dominate Inuvik's downtown but wouldn't be that far away either.