Houseboaters call it a crafty cleanup
First-time cleanup of Jolliffe Island comes weeks before court date

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 25/97) - Two houseboaters say they believe the city was collecting evidence and not just garbage during a cleanup of Jolliffe Island this week.

A crew of city workers arrived at the island, around which most houseboaters are moored, Tuesday morning.

Houseboater Matthew Grogono was more than curious. "I'm concerned, I'm very concerned," he said. "I'm in court against the city right now and I want to know what they're up to down here."

The next court date in a civil suit brought by the city against Grogono and two other houseboaters is set for May 8.

The city is asking the territorial Supreme Court to affirm it has the right to apply its laws to houseboaters. Grogono has said his lawyer will be asking that the case be dismissed.

Fraser Weir, who also lives on a houseboat, said this was the first time the city has offered to clean up the area since he arrived in 1973.

"They decided to come out and peruse the area for this so-called spring cleanup Sunday afternoon, on double time," noted Weir.

"Couldn't this have been done on straight time, during the week? All of a sudden there's this big cleanup -- 'We're here to help.' Right."

Notice of the clean-up was posted Sunday, according to the head of municipal enforcement, Gill Cox.

Grogono said he learned of the clean-up only after being told of a notice posted on a tree on the island.

"This has nothing to do with the houseboats," said city administrator Doug Lagore Wednesday.

"We had a concern about a public health issue on the island, and Bob McKinnon and a public health inspector went down there yesterday."

McKinnon, director of planning and lands, said the city had identified "sanitation" problems in the area.

"There's a lot of animal excrement and waste around and so on. Of course, there's outdoor bivvies (outhouses) as well. There were also a number of barrels along the shoreline we wanted to clean up."

Grogono said the barrels had been used as flotation for a houseboat he renovated two years ago. He took them to the dump two days before the cleanup.

On Friday the city fire department submitted a spill report to the territorial government after discovering some power-steering fluid on the ice near one of the house boats.

The fire department reported the spill to the NWT spill line, which subsequently passed it on to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

The spill consisted of approximately one litre of power steering fluid that drained out of an old car at the site, reported DIAND resource management officer Craig Broom.

Ironically, the fire department did not clean up the minor spill itself because, explained Broom, "waterways and federal lands are DIAND's responsibility."