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Council briefs
Parking lot vs. little brown house

Daniel Campbell
Northern News Services
Published Friday, November 1, 2013

Downtown Yellowknife's "little brown house" is one step closer to becoming a little black parking lot.

City council held second reading of a bylaw which will allow the owners of Northern United Place to demolish the house and turn the lot into parking spaces.

The motion carried, with Couns. Rebecca Alty and Niels Konge opposing. The bylaw requires a third reading before it can be passed.

Alty and Konge opposed the bylaw, saying turning residential areas into parking lots does not support downtown.

"We're creating a wasteland of parking in our downtown core," Konge said.

Yellowknife historian Ryan Silke said he'd be upset to see the house demolished. It was built in 1948 to house members of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals.

Gail Leonardis and Larry Elkin, representatives of the NWT Community Services Council - the organization which runs Northern United Place and bought the adjacent "little brown house" in 2006 - spoke in favour of the bylaw to council on Monday.

"If anyone wants the little brown house, they're welcome to buy it," Elkin safe on Monday.

Leonardis added they would allow someone to relocate the house to preserve it.

Tenants at Northern United Place have been facing a parking squeeze this year, as the adjacent Betty House construction has eaten up some of their parking spots.

Leonardis said if parking cannot be provided, the community council risks losing income from important tenants, such as Aurora College, which might seek other rental options with better parking.

Northern United Place provides affordable housing, community meeting spaces and is not-for-profit.

"This would be very serious for us if it was not approved," Elkin added.

Leonardis said the parking lot could be completed in early January if the bylaw passed.

Most councillors, though conflicted about adding another parking lot downtown, voted in favour of the bylaw, noting the importance of Northern United Place to the community.

Dog bylaw passes

A much-discussed new dog bylaw was passed Monday night after three quick readings.

City council voted unanimously to adopt the bylaw, which includes a new rule forcing dog owners to carry poop bags while walking their dogs.

The fine for not carrying a bag will be $100.

The bag provision had been cut from the bylaw after the city received complaints from some dog owners. Const. Doug Gillard added the city would need to hire another bylaw officer to enforce it properly.

But during a committee meeting on Oct. 15, councillors put the provision back into the bylaw.

The new bylaw will allow for stricter enforcement of barking and feces-related infractions. It will also carry penalties specific to the type of offence.

Speeding on Tin Can Hill

Coun. Adrian Bell is concerned that increased traffic on Tin Can Hill, as a result of construction on the water treatment plant, is a risk to residents and dogs that use the trail.

Bell, who walks his dog on the hill several times a week, said he has recently noticed more trucks driving on the trail. He has also heard complaints from residents who use it.

"Now that the water treatment plant project is beginning, we need to make sure we post some speed limits because it's going to get dangerous up there, with all the dogs that are off leash and with all the people walking around up there."

Bell raised the issue as a question to administration during Monday's council meeting.

Dennis Kefalas, SAO, said the city plans to put signs up once work on the hill intensifies. He predicted that would happen sometime in the spring.

He could not confirm what the speed limit would be, but said it would likely be between 10 and 20 km/h.

Kefalas added that access to the road will remain closed and there will be no traffic on the trail after work hours.

- Cody Punter

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