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Petition reveals city error

Willow Flats not technically in snowmobile bylaw

Darren Stewart
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Apr 11/03) - Residents who signed a petition asking that the city ban snowmobiling in Willow Flats will be pleased to know the area is already protected -- almost.

Old Town resident Anne Gunn presented the petition last November. The matter will be before council this Monday in order to clarify Willow Flats is protected under the snowmobile bylaw.

City enforcement manager Doug Gillard said he noticed the mistake when he reviewed the bylaw for council.

"It was an inconsistency with some of the legal description of zoning in the area," he said.

"Really, Willow Flats has always been a restricted area and we don't need to change anything."

Gillard said anybody caught snowmobiling off designated paths in Willow Flats would receive a $100 fine.

Bruce Hewlko of the Yellowknife Snowmobile Club said that club members have no opposition to restricted areas.

"When the city thinks it's necessary we definitely support it," he said. "Whether the city can enforce it is a different thing."

Hewlko said the club keeps up to date on new restrictions via e-mail, but the club only represents about 50 of the 2,000 snowmobilers in the city.

The petition called for the city to recognize the flats as the largest unprotected wetlands within the city.

It said that snowmobilers are leaving established trails and creating large snow-packed areas which affects habitat for small creatures like voles and ptarmigans.

Gunn, who collected 30 names for the petition, was unavailable for comment.