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Niven lot prices jump 25 per cent

Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 23/05) - City councillor Kevin O'Reilly thinks the city should get back into the development business.

At last week's regular council meeting, O'Reilly complained about prices of lots being offered through a ballot draw for Phase VI of the Niven Lake subdivision.

He said it didn't make any sense that the price of lots being sold in Phase VI are 25 per cent higher than what the city sold lots for in Phase IV of Niven Lake two years ago.

The average price for a Niven Lake lot sold by ballot draw in 2003 was $68,759. The average price for lots sold during the most recent ballot draw was $86,284.

Ten of the 13 lots available were sold by developer Homes North.

"I've always said the city should and could've been a developer," O'Reilly told city council.

"These lots would've been online a year ago."

O'Reilly said he isn't sure if the city could have have sold the Phase VI lots for a better price, but it's worth looking into.

"The public deserves to know why there's an increase between Phase IV and Phase VI," said O'Reilly.

Homes North president Les Rocher was unavailable for comment, but he was not without defenders on council.

Coun. Doug Witty called O'Reilly's comments a generalization, saying there are no guarantees the city could do a better job than private contractors.

He pointed to the problems the city faced when it tried to sell lots out of Phase I of Niven Lake, where the city failed to recoup over $2 million poured into the property to make it ready for development.

Witty said Phase VI would have been ready last year and probably at a lower price had the developer not run into opposition from neighbours that led to hold-ups in the courts and the development appeal process.

"I don't think anybody could be proud how this came together," said Witty.