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In the doghouse

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services

Inuvik (June 18/04) - Her dogs may have a new home, but their owner Marie-Anick Elie's dream of living close to her animals may remain just that.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Marie-Anick Elie with Shiner, one of her sled dogs, on her five-acre property the town has classified as light industrial. - Jason Unrau/NNSL photo

The town has refused her request to have the property she recently purchased rezoned from light industrial to country-residential status.

Elie had asked for her property to be rezoned in order to secure mortgage insurance through the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation before building her home.

"For sure I'm disappointed that I got turned down," she said. "It's kind of contradictory. The town uses pictures of dog mushing to promote tourism, but it closes its eyes to a traditional activity.

"We're good enough to attract tourists, but not good enough to be part of the community."

In addition to racing her own team, Elie is instrumental in helping to organize and promote these events in the region. When Elie made the application to purchase three lots (approximately five acres) at the end of Arctic No Name Road, she informed the town of her plans to build a home and a kennel for her racing dogs.

Only when she went to get her mortgage insured was Elie informed that the zoning status of her land had to be changed in order to qualify.

"I'd call this a case of buyer beware," said corporate representative for CMHC Sandra Turner from her office in Yellowknife.

"And commercial or light industrial property doesn't qualify under the National Housing Act."

Elie's request to have her property rezoned got a less than lukewarm response from town council when she presented her case at the committee of the whole meeting, June 7.

Coun. Arlene Hansen said making concessions would wreak "helter-skelter" in the town planning department. Watering down the sentiment slightly on Monday, Mayor Peter Clarkson said the town would not consider the rezoning at this time as it would create a "patchwork" zoning situation in town.

To date, Elie says that between purchasing the land, building a road to connect her property with the existing road and running electricity to the site she has invested more than $40,000.

If she can't get a change on the zoning of her land, the only option left is going ahead without CMHC insurance. This, she says, would be more costly and a risk if she ever wanted to sell the house, as potential buyers would not be able to secure CMHC mortgage insurance either.

"I may build anyways, but it will probably be a smaller house than I planned," she said. "This leaves me wondering why I would want to invest any more money in the town."