Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad  Print this page

Parks change for better

Lisa Scott
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 08/05) - Life for campers and park operators is just a little easier in North Slave parks this year, thanks to a few changes.

Elizabeth Makohonyk and Mike Nedbaluk stand outside the shower building at Fred Henne territorial park. The Alberta visitors were impressed by the services that greeted them at the park and in the city.

An online reservation system for Fred Henne, Prelude and Reid Lake territorial campgrounds has been running since May 11. The department of Industry, Tourism and Investment is happy with the pilot project so far.

"People will be relieved. If they can book online nine months in advance, they can go ahead with their plans," says Gary Tees, park development coordinator.

The service, available on the department's website, covers everything from kitchen shelters to campsite reservations.

The Yellowknife company Cold Mountain Computing operates the system, which cost $18,000 to set up and about $2,400 in annual maintenance costs.

The convenient service costs $10 a shot and has a three-day wait to confirm a reservation.

Last year reservations had to be made by phone or email and only when the parks opened in the spring.

"There are people wanting specific weekends or specific types of sites in the campground," says Tees, especially corporations and groups.

Also new this year is a computer system that keeps track of campers' information and spits out permits on perforated sheets.

The popular 4km Prospector hiking trail that starts in the park also got a face-lift this season, with the addition of antique mining equipment.

An old rail system and bucket car sits outside the entrance to the trail to remind visitors of the history of Yellowknife, says Tees.

"We thought it would be appropriate to set up this machinery to promote and preserve the mining history," he says.

Camper Mike Nedbaluk knows all about that history from when he worked as a millwright in Yellowknife in 1959.

He brought his girlfriend Elizabeth Makohonyk for his first visit back for a week-long camping trip at Fred Henne park.

Impressed by the fully serviced park and the urban landscape surrounding it, he says it's no longer the frontier town he remembers, but it's still beautiful.

The couple didn't use the new reservation system to book this time, but say the services for the park have been great, both before they arrived and during their stay.

"It's just been an excellent trip," says Nedbaluk.

The mosquitos, which can be pretty bad in the low lying park deterred the couple from walking the Prospector Trail.