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A land dispute between the Yellowknives Dene and the city started over a 64-acre parcel of land at the Sand Pits, but has expanded to include other parcels within the city, according to Dettah Chief Peter Liske. The city's application for future land needs, including the Sand Pits, shown here, should be ready to go to the GNWT by September.

City, Dene continue land clash

Lisa Scott
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 22/05) - A map presented to a committee of councillors this week shows eight parcels of land within municipal boundaries that the city hopes to own.

Dettah Chief Peter Liske says some of those parcels should be put aside for the Dene, not for city development.

Peter Liske: "I want those lands set aside for us, for future land. Right now, the GNWT and the city are not agreeing with me."

"Those are all Commissioner's lands and those lands should be set aside and withdrawn by the GNWT, but they are not doing that," says Liske.

The Yellowknives Dene's beef with the city started over a 64-acre parcel of land known as the Sand Pits. The Dene want to develop a residential subdivision on the land, but the city applied to own the land last year.

All lease applications have to then go through the city.

"I want those lands set aside for us, for future land. Right now, the GNWT and the city are not agreeing with me," says Liske.

What started with the Sand Pits has now expanded to include any of the land requested by the city, he says.

"I was only asking for the Sand Pits area, but now it's gone beyond that," says Liske.

Mayor Gordon Van Tighem calls the application for parcels on the wish list from Municipal and Community Affairs a "conservative, balanced request."

The department asked the city to put together the application for land needs in May. It will likely be ready by September.

"While we recognize and respect that there's a treaty land process that is happening, we still need to, as a city, operate responsibly for our citizens and future citizens," says Van Tighem. That responsibility includes asking for land at Negus Point, Kam Lake, Con Mine, Bristol Pits and other locations.

Mosher Island across from Con Mine was even included, just in case houseboaters get any ideas for expanding their floating community, according to Monte Christensen, city manager of Planning and Lands.

In all, city administration has drafted a map of almost 700 hectares marked for possible development, including green space, residential and commercial areas.

In its 2004 general plan, the city says it needs 183 hectares by 2010 and 481.3 hectares by 2019.

They currently have 88.58 hectares that can be used for development.

Councillors Kevin O'Reilly and Bob Brooks expressed concern this week that the city include a solid plan for each parcel, so the request doesn't look like a "land grab."

The application will be on the agenda at the next city council meeting, July 25.