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Move over, Frame Lake trail
New hospital will permanently displace popular walking path; area residents reflect on changes

Evan Kiyoshi French
Northern News Services
Friday, January 15, 2016

Diane Baldwin is upset the new Stanton Territorial Hospital encroaches on the McMahon Frame Lake Trail, adjacent to her home on Gitzel Street.

NNSL photo/graphic

Diane Baldwin approaches the gate bordering the Stanton Territorial Hospital project and the McMahon Frame Lake Trail where trees have been clear cut to make way for the new building. - Evan Kiyoshi French/NNSL photo

The plan was unveiled in October, when the territorial government announced the $350 million plan for Boreal Health Partnership to build a new, 85,000-square foot hospital just behind the current one - on a rocky outcrop where the helicopter pad and the Frame Lake trail are.

Baldwin - who has been living near the trail for 17 years - said she's worried the new construction is going to impact the walking path.

"I have a concern because the lot they're blasting is right up to the edge of the trail," she said. "It's right on the edge of this natural space that we've all enjoyed for years."

City spokesperson Nalini Naidoo stated in an e-mail two related development permits were publicly issued - one on Oct. 9 for the site-preparation and blasting work and another Dec. 16. Both permits had two-week appeal periods. According to Naidoo, the city received no appeals of either permit.

The groundbreaking ceremony was Oct. 8 and blasting began Nov. 30.

A fence now surrounds the build site - running right up to the scenic path around the lake - and trees appear to have been cleared within the build zone. Baldwin said she would have preferred if some of the trees could have been left standing since the rocky area is sparsely wooded and trees take a very long time to grow there.

"The legislative assembly, when it was being built, there was a policy in place to not remove any tree that didn't have to be (removed). They were very careful not to damage the existing environment," said Baldwin. "(In the new hospital's case) It looks like they just went in and clear cut the entire lot."

GNWT spokesperson Andrew Livingstone stated in an e-mail the building location was selected after lengthy review "focused on mitigating changes to the natural landscape."

He stated that removal of trees on site was limited to the building footprint, new parking areas and road widening area.

Livingstone stated a 110-metre section of the trail connecting to Byrne Road and a 160-metre section passing between the northwest face of the property and Frame Lake will be relocated permanently.

"The latter section will be moved approximately 20 metres northwest to accommodate the new hospital," wrote Livingstone.

He stated that the two corridors will be moved by Sept. 30, "following an occupancy permit being issued for the new Stanton Hospital."

Baldwin said it will take time to adjust to the new scenery.

"Hopefully they leave as much of that natural granite and glacially smooth outcrops behind," she said.

Frame Lake MLA Kevin O'Reilly said MLAs have not been briefed about the new construction.

"I haven't had an opportunity to really follow up on this ... on the (Stanton renewal project) website today there's finally some 3-D renderings and a footprint have been posted. It doesn't look like there's much of a barrier between the trail and the property. That's a bit disappointing."

Brian Latham, who has lived near the trail for 15 years - said he expects the popular pedestrian route won't be impacted too much because power lines running along it from the Northland Trailer park cannot be affected by the construction.

"There's an allowance for the power lines there. They go behind the trailers in (Northland Trailer Park)," he said. "So they should not be able to encroach on that or the planning department isn't doing it's job."

Latham said the path is his main walking route downtown from his home on Range Lake Road.

"We're always sad to see the bush go," he said.

Mike Vaydik, who lives on 50 Street near Matonabee Street near the downtown end of the trail, said he doesn't know how the building will affect the trail but the new hospital has to go somewhere.

"You can't build omelets without breaking eggs," he said.

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