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A planned First Nations-themed hotel on Twin Pine Hill will not likely see construction for another 18 to 24 months, according to Greg Herndier, a representative of Det'on Cho Corporation-New North Projects. - Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

More delays at Twin Pine Hill
Yellowknives Dene-owned, First Nations-themed establishment runs into unexpected problems

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services
Published Friday, May 3, 2013

The unfulfilled plan to develop a hotel on Twin Pine Hill won't begin until at least late next year, according to the Yellowknives Dene-owned company that owns the land.

Greg Herndier, representative of the Det'on Cho Corporation - New North Projects Ltd., said the hotel, which will include more than 100 rooms, won't begin construction for another 18 to 24 months because of unexpected issues that have arisen with the project.

Det'on Cho-New North Projects owns two parcels on the top of the hill where the hotel is projected to go.

"There is a hotel planned for the site and there is land available for other assets to be developed which we haven't identified yet," said Herndier last week.

"We have been working on the development for five years, but it is an extremely complicated piece of business. Between access and zoning and all of the land transfers and all things going on through the process - it is very, very complicated."

Development on Twin Pine Hill has been on hold since city council sold two lots atop the hill to a consortium of First Nations interest for $181,497 in 2003. The original $25-million plan called for a resort and convention centre but the project never came to fruition. The hotel plans were later shifted further down toward the base of the hill after it was determined the hilltop properties may be too difficult to access. But those too have been scrapped, and now the very top of the hill is back in the cards with an access point off 44 Street.

Herndier said his company is working with acting Ndilo chief Roy Erasmus Sr. and a consulting company of architects and engineers to get the project going. The latest design for the hotel, which will be First Nations-themed in its design, artwork and layout, will feature standard hotel rooms but also executive suites for visiting dignitaries.

Herndier could not provide drawings at press time but he said his team has been working on drawings for about two years and they are "about 90 per cent complete," he said.

The lack of development has held up plans by the city to invest $250,000 in trail development on city-owned land on the hill. In a contentious vote during budget deliberations in December, council chose to wait until the developer has a building permit with clear plans in place to proceed with the project before that money is spent.

"The direction was that council did not want the expenditure of reserve money for the trail and at this point we have no indication that the development is going to proceed this year," said Jeff Humble, director of planning and development.

The city has been collecting property taxes for the land, said Humble.

The GNWT also approved an easement for power lines this year, because there is a very thin strip of commissioner's land on the hill.

Other outstanding issues in the area include addressing safety concerns expressed by the Yellowknife Catholic Schools district. While the school board supports development, current traffic patterns and students accessing the Kimberlite Career and Technical Centre on 44 Street remain top concerns, said Mike Huvenaars, the district's assistant superintendent for business.

''Whatever development happens on that hill, we want to make sure our students have safe access to our buildings," said Huvenaars.

"If the developer puts in a development on Twin Pine Hill, we want to make sure our students will still be safe regardless of what access road goes on that hill."

Although a route had been approved by council through the NWT Power Corporation transmission line corridor last summer from 44 Street to reach a parcel of land at the top of the hill, Herndier said there isn't likely to be a road built until water and sewer lines are installed during construction.

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