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Wall built to stop loiterers

John Thompson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 23/05) - Three million dollars will be spent to renovate the YK Centre mall over the next year, but not everyone is happy.

Interior changes include a four-foot wall currently being assembled in front of the radiators of Extra Foods.

The radiators run along the front windows and are often used as benches by elderly folks hoping to stay warm.

They're also sometimes occupied by drunks who can become rowdy and cause trouble inside the store, said two employees at the food store.

At least one woman was so upset when she discovered the wall she went upstairs and yelled at the mall secretary.

WAM Development Group owns the YK Centre, as well as its two sister buildings across the street, Panda One and Panda Two.

The radiators were being damaged by people using them as benches, said Kelly Hayden, vice-president of Northern operations.

He also expressed concern the appearance of the buildings would present the wrong image to the hordes of Japanese tourists who visit the city every year to see the Northern Lights.

"Their first impression of Yellowknife is not the best," Hayden said of what visiting Japanese will take home with them in memories of their trip.

Renovations will include repainting the inside of the buildings with earth tones and constructing a new edifice around the entrances with slate-like tile.

He added there will be extra seating added to the coffee shop across the street. "Do we let intoxicated people into the mall?" he asked. "No. No one does."