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Yellowknife 'blast and build'

Northern News Services

Yellowknife (May 23/05) - Green spaces around the city could be rezoned to hold more than 400 new homes and neighbours are angry.

NNSL photo

Evelyne Tran, right, and her daughters Savannah, front, and Oceane don't want to lose the parkland behind their Hordal Road home. Savannah and Oceane are "mad;" Evelyne is "outraged." - Kent Driscoll/NNSL photo

A residential growth study presented to city council's municipal services committee last week recommends seven sites be rezoned from parks and recreation or nature preservation to residential.

The sites are among 15 locations identified in the study. The committee tabled the report for discussion in the future, after public opinion is gauged.

The study was ordered to help council plan how to accommodate population growth expected to need 740 new homes over the next four years.

"It would break my heart to see that go up there. It's an easy spot to watch and it's a communal spot where my kids play," said Queenie Bernard, who has lived next to the parkland at the corner of Burwash and Con Road since 1999.

Her three children play there and children from Yellowknife Play School across the road use the land, too.

"We do nature walks in the fall and spring ... to learn about plant life and to listen to the birds. And we go sliding there in the winter," said Bev Black, who works at the school.

"I wouldn't like to see it, we already have a problem with speeding."

Kathy Yurris has lived on Bromley Drive for 10 years and her property backs on to the lot at the corner of Kam Lake Road and Woolgar Avenue.

If the changes go through, the treed land that's now her neighbour will hold 84 homes. "The parkland was one of the major reasons we bought the place. We didn't care about the jail or the Multiplex, but this is too much," said Yurris.

As well, the Yellowknife Community Gardens may have to find a new home for its two plots.

"Some of us have been expecting this. Our lease is up at the end of this growing season. I hope they compensate us for it," said Lisette Self, chair of the Garden's membership committee.

The group has been growing pesticide-free produce at the site for 11 years.

The thin stretch of land behind the Tran's Hordal Road home was part of the reason they bought their place a year ago.

"We thought nobody would do anything with something so small. We wouldn't have bought this place otherwise. We would have bought a newer home, but there was no privacy," said Evelyne Tran.

Her two girls, Oceane and Savannah, play in the green space and are both "mad" about the proposed zoning change. Their parkland could be blasted to make way for more trailers.

The Tran's neighbour, Debbie Kelly, also bought her home a year ago. "(The parkland) was the primary reason we bought this place," said Kelly.

"I would tell them (city council) to look for land elsewhere, instead of cramming people all together."


While Yellowknife Association of Concerned Citizens for Seniors may get to talk with the city about plans for the lot behind Aven Manor, president Allan Falconer is still concerned by what's in the works.

"This city has a long history of blast-and-build development," said the 40-year Yellowknife resident.

YACCS is raising funds to build a dementia centre and assisted-living duplexes for seniors near Aven Manor.

The growth plan also recommends the city begin selling lots on the former Bartam Trailer Court site on School Draw Avenue. The land has been vacant since the city evicted 17 trailer owners in the early 1990s. Efforts to turn the land into housing have been met with opposition in the past.

A city-owned property off Con Road could also be sold. It's zoned residential and could hold one four-plex.

Some of the 15 sites were considered unsuitable for development: the open park space between Niven Drive and Niven Lake and the areas by Tommy Forrest Park and Pumphouse No. 3.

One property, a 6.9 hectare parcel between the fire hall and William McDonald school was recommended to be rezoned nature preservation.