Residents say no to lodge
Back Bay neighbours say 48-room lodge would destroy quiet neighbourhood

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 17/99) - A 48-room tourist lodge being considered for a residential neighbourhood in Yellowknife's Back Bay area will fly when pigs do, said members of the Back Bay Community Association.

"I would just keep opposing this to the end," said resident Don Jossa. "If there was a meeting (about it), I wouldn't go on holidays."

That was the sentiment of the 15 neighbours who showed up for a meeting of the Back Bay Community Association Wednesday night.

Vaughn del Valle was also present to answer questions and address concerns that were raised about his proposal.

"It isn't a project, it's just an idea," he said at the start of the meeting.

If the idea is realized, del Valle would build the lodge on his property, which is composed partially of titled land and partly of land leased from the federal government.

To minimize traffic in the neighbourhood, del Valle said the lodge would be accessed by a road tunnelled through a rock outcrop beside his property.

Those at the meeting said the development would destroy the character of the quiet residential neighbourhood.

del Valle bristled when discussions turned to the associations' objection to his application to the federal government to extend the term of his lease and extend the shoreline in front of his property 30 metres out into the bay.

"I was not invited to come here to discuss what is essentially a private matter between myself, the city and DIAND," he told the association.

He contended that the extension of the shoreline was a safety issue, that the mucky and weedy waters contained old metal and debris that presented a hazard to his children.

The widening would also allow safer water truck access, he said, since water trucks currently have to drive in backwards along his driveway.

Others at the meeting disagreed that the lease was a private matter.

Meeting chairman Nick Lawson said the issue of the leases is "either directly linked or potentially linked" to the development of the property.

That view was reflected in votes the association held at the conclusion of the meeting. Two motions were presented. Members voted 16-0 in favour of opposing extending the term of the lease and the shoreline.

The second motion called upon the city to consult Back Bay residents on development of the area and stated the association is opposed to commercial development of del Valle's property.

It was approved by a vote of 14-0 with two members abstaining.

Despite the opposition, Del Valle said he remains "cautiously optimistic" about the lodge, noting all but six of the votes cast were proxy votes.

"I'm not quite sure under the current circumstances, I've got a clear perspective on what people think."

That optimism in the face of opposition led to the only outburst during the otherwise cordial meeting.

When del Valle denied he had applied to fill in part of the lake, resident Jamie Bastedo referred to a letter del Valle had written saying he proposed to do just that.

When del Valle continued to say he was not proposing to do such a thing, Bastedo rose to his feet and loudly offered the letter to del Valle.

"I'm getting emotional, Vaughn, because you are a brick wall sometimes!" said Bastedo. He later apologized for the outburst.