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NNSL Photo

Pamela Murray, Krista Domchek and Jaysen Knight check out the development plans for Twin Pine Hill. - Cheryl Robinson/NNSL photos

Developer skips Twin Pine meeting

Yellowknife River Resorts not in attendance

Cheryl Robinson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (May 21/03) - A forum to discuss plans to build a $25 million resort on Twin Pine Hill went ahead last week -- without the developer.

"I feel slighted," said Paul Falvo, one of 50 people who turned out last Thursday. "I gave up my night and came out in the rain to talk about this and the people benefitting from it aren't here."

Ecology North sponsored the meeting, but a spokesperson for Yellowknife River Resorts (YRR) said they didn't attend because they are not ready to meet with the public.

"The timing wasn't right," said YRR spokesperson Darrell Beaulieu, who is also chief of the Yellowknives Dene First Nations at Ndilo. "The information (we're putting) together isn't done yet."

He said the company plans to hold a forum of its own in the future and would invite the public and Ecology North to take part.

On May 15, a diverse panel that included Mayor Gord Van Tighem, environmentalists, a mountain biker and naturalist Jamie Bastedo carried on with the meeting.

The question on everyone's mind was: is it too late to save Twin Pine Hill?

"If the train has left the station in terms of development, let's make sure the train is on the right track of where we want to go," said Doug Ritchie of Ecology North.

Kevin O'Reilly, the only Yellowknife councillor to vote against the bylaw that turned over the land Yellowknife River Resorts, told Ritchie that "the train left the station a year ago on July 22" when council approved the project.

Plans for walking trail and viewpoints on Twin Pine Hill were shown at the meeting. Many favoured the walkways, and said they would preserve access to natural areas.

O'Reilly said the walking trails will be paid for by city taxpayers and won't be laid down until the hotel is built.

"People need to know that city council has zero dollars in our budget for trails on Twin Pine Hill," he said.

O'Reilly read a passage from a project design document that said if there is conflict between the proposed trails and the hotel, the trails and viewpoints would be re-located.

"That is the protection for the trails and viewpoints; that's it," O'Reilly said.

The hotel will soon enter the development permit stage. The final development permit plans can be appealed, but O'Reilly warned that if the plans fit the zoning requirements "there's nothing that can be done."