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Yellowknives oppose Giant townsite development

Mike W.Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 02/05) - The Yellowknives Dene First Nation wants Mayor Gord Van Tighem to cease and desist on his idea to re-vamp the Giant Mine townsite.

Van Tighem's vision includes a breakwater and a new housing development on the old, largely abandoned townsite. The city is holding a public meeting Dec. 7 as part of a "visioning project" to ask residents for their ideas on what might be done with the site.

In a letter sent to the mayor Nov. 8, Yellowknives Dene chiefs Fred Sangris and Peter Liske ask him to "discontinue the exercise and freeze all further developments within the municipal boundaries of Yellowknife."

They argued that it was a direct violation of the Interim Measures Agreement - the document that governs land disposals in the city while the Yellowknives await a final agreement with Ottawa.

Liske later said the city ought to halt its development plans for Giant Mine while land claim negotiations continue.

"They shouldn't be applying for Commissioner's land," said Liske.

"Giant Mine is Commissioner's land."

He said the Yellowknives will likely raise the matter with the territorial government.

The city acquired a sublease for the townsite from the territorial government five years ago in lieu of property taxes it once received from the mine.

If the city developed the townsite, most of the existing buildings would have to be torn down and the ground covered with uncontaminated soil and sod.

The townsite was once home to hundreds of mine workers, but most are gone now that the mine is closed.

Van Tighem said he looks forward to the Yellowknives input into the townsite vision.

"All that's happened right now is that a request has gone out for input from the community, the entire community," said Van Tighem.