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More coveted cabin leases could become available in near future
New areas for recreational leases may be identified as early as next year following massive public consultation effort on recreational land use outside city

Erin Steele
Northern News Services
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The territorial government is taking stock of what people are doing on the land outside Yellowknife with a goal of identifying where to put more cabin leases.

Over the next several months the public will have ample opportunity - including through online engagement, information kiosks, focus groups and an open house - to share what they're doing and where, when they venture into the great outdoors beyond the city.

Once this information is collected, the department will create a recreation management plan for the area around Yellowknife, according to Terry Hall, director of land-use and sustainability with the Department of Lands.

"We want to identify what's out there, how people are using the land, identify the diversity of uses that are out there and also look at future opportunities for recreational land-use," said Hall.

"One of the goals - one of the tangible ones - is identifying areas where we can put some additional (cabin) leases."

This was echoed by Lands Minister Robert C. McLeod in a news release last week.

"Once completed, this recreational management plan ... will include identifying future opportunities for new cabin leases next year," stated McLeod.

Hall couldn't confirm a timeline for when new leases may actually

become available.

"We'll see how the planning process goes," Hall said, adding that the earliest any leases would come available is some time after both planning and identification of lease sites has taken place.

Last year, the GNWT released 22 cabin lots by lottery, which drew a frenzy of public interest.

The area being looked at, dubbed the "Yellowknife periphery area," has no set boundaries at the moment, said Hall. It includes, but is not limited to, the area with a standing moratorium on recreational leases along the Ingraham Trail and Highway 3 - high-use areas, according to Hall.

"Once this planning process plays out and we see where we end up with recommendations on what to do in this area then we'll be addressing the moratorium," he said, adding that public engagement last year left the department with a clear message.

"It was voiced loudly and clearly from the public that in areas of high use we should be doing more planning around recreational land use, the issuance of leases and take a more planned approach to it."

In creating the plan, Hall says the department will be cognizant of other land uses, such as mineral deposits, adding the consultation will include other interest groups as well as other GNWT departments that track other land uses.

"It's not an either/or," Hall clarified. It's not that this area is for economic development so we're not having any recreational uses there. It's not that."

But he did note the plan is interim, as there are unsettled land claims in the area.

"It's not meant to replace a land-use planning process that may occur traditionally and has occurred as part of the settlement of a land claim," said Hall.

He added that in the areas of the NWT where land claims were completed, those were followed by comprehensive land-use plans.

"If that were to occur in this area, we would have to then look at how this recreational plan fits into the broader land-use plan. It's not meant to replace that work," he said.

"That said, a lot of the work that we would do through this process will help inform a land-use plan for the area."

It's within the mandate of the 18th Legislative Assembly to undertake land-use planning in areas of the NWT where there is none.

The recreation management plan is expected to be completed by spring 2017.

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