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NNSL Photo

The city is hoping to have a boat launch near the Giant Mine pier ready by the end of summer. - Merle Robillard/NNSL photo

Second boat launch coming

Giant Mine town site work under way

Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 09/03) - The mayor is confident Yellowknife's boat traffic jam days are over now that plans are under way to build a launch at Giant Mine dock by the end of the summer.

Mayor Gord Van Tighem said the new launch will be similar to Yellowknife's only other public access at the government dock in Old Town with two ramps and a floating dock in between.

If all goes well, he said, the boat launch will be ready for use before fall.

"It'll be quite similar to the one that's in Old Town except wider," said Van Tighem. "The area where the (fuel) tanks are will be remediated and it will be a parking area."

The plan will include upgrading the existing pier at the site, removing the fuel tanks and chipsealing the surface underneath them for parking, and connecting the area to a Giant Mine heritage museum.

He is also talking to private developers about building another two launch ramps nearby.

Van Tighem expects the total cost of the first project to ring in at around $300,000 -- to be split three ways between the city, the GNWT, and DIAND.

The city intends to pay its share mainly by providing the labour.

The lease for the mostly abandoned Giant Mine town site and adjacent pier was transferred over to the city from the mine's current owner -- Miramar -- three years ago.

The site has been the subject of controversy in the past. A study conducted by the mine's former owner -- Royal Oak -- in 1995 found that arsenic levels in the proposed boat launch area averaged about 3,000 parts per million.

Last year, the Yellowknife Arsenic Soils Remediation Committee (YSARC) recommended that the boat launch area should be remediated to around 220 parts per million to make it safe.

But another study conducted by the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. concluded that most of the arsenic in the boat launch area is naturally occurring and safely embedded within rock.

"The problem there was that the analyze for the arsenic was based on total arsenic," said Bill Mitchell, Giant Mine remediation co-ordinator for DIAND.

"What they were sampling was crushed mine rock, which contains some very stable arsenopyrite... That arsenic is not available to be taken up by any animals, plants, or humans for that matter."