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Another vote needed for Twin Pine Hill road

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services
Published Friday, June 29, 2012

Plans to move ahead with an access road to the top of Twin Pine Hill have been held off for another meeting as city council failed to obtain unanimous consent for third reading Monday night.

City councillor David Wind was the only member to oppose the item during first reading, which automatically postponed the final vote for another day.

"I opposed having that go immediately to (second and third) reading because I thought it was being pushed through without having the public have the opportunity to understand it," he said, noting that residents will have more time to review the project before it comes back to council on July 9.

All eight councillors were present for the meeting, and thus city administration attempted to push through all three readings in one night.

A route is being planned to cut through the NWT Power Corporation transmission line corridor from 44 Street through to the top of the hill in order to reach the DCC-NNP Limited Partnership-owned property. DCC-NNP, which is a joint venture between the Yellowknives Dene First Nation-owned Det'on Cho Corporation and NewNorth Projects, owns two lots that could eventually see a conference centre, walking trails and other development finally taking place after many years of inactivity.

The originally planned road would have ran east from Franklin Avenue but planners deemed that route to be too steep.

"The owner of the lot on Twin Pine Hill over a period of time has been looking at access and the initial plan would mean that they would have had to blow up a cliff face with 12-to 15-foot walls in order to get a grade to run a snowplow or grader up and down," said Mayor Gord Van Tighem.

"The alternative road found was in the powerline easement and the owners got permission from the NWT Power Corporation. We are now rezoning the road access."

The hill holds the largest piece of undeveloped city-owned property in the downtown core. As such, according to the city memorandum, it could be the future site of major institutional development and was mentioned at the council meeting as a potential new home for the Aurora College campus although Van Tighem said he didn't have any knowledge of that.

Mike Huvenaars, assistant superintendent of business for the Yellowknife Catholic Schools board, spoke at a public hearing for the project held the same night, and called on the city to address safety issues on 44 Street before moving ahead. The road abuts St. Patrick High School on the north side of school.

Huvenaars asked for a raised, black and white striped "zebra" crosswalk to make it safer for students crossing the street to the student parking area. He would also like to see yellow flashing lights and better enforcement of the no parking zone that exists on one side of 44 Street.

"We are proposing the zebra crosswalk and yellow flashing lights be installed at that same crosswalk," he said.

While some of Huvenaars' proposals weren't outright opposed, city administration appeared to be cool to the idea of a raised zebra crosswalk, due to maintenance concerns in the winter.

"I agree with director of public works (Dennis Kefalas) that maybe a raised crosswalk isn't all that beneficial because they act as a quasi-speed bump and are supposed to be more noticeable," said Coun. Cory Vanthuyne. "I see that as possibly another safety issue in the winter."

While the school district supports development for a college on the hill, there remains a concern about the speed of vehicles travelling between Sir John Franklin High School and the intersection of Franklin Avenue and 44 Street, which often exceeds the mandatory 30 km/h, said Huvenaars.

This has resulted in two serious traffic accidents over the past year near where the proposed roadway is to go through. Last fall, a driver knocked over two large yellow concrete barriers. In May of this year, a parking rail at the Kimberlite Technical Center was hit in the middle of the night. On both occasions, the drivers got away without charges, said Huvenaars.

Based on similar requests in a $40,000 traffic study done last year by DCC-NNP, company representative Greg Herndier said Huvenaars' safety proposals are welcome.

"I tend to agree that the traffic should be slowed down and the traffic study calls for most of these measures, including better sight lines and slower traffic," he said.

"I think all of those things have to be there to make this project work properly."

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