NNSL Photo/Graphic


Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

Worries over proposed Grace Lake development
Resident fears homes will disrupt idyllic canoeing location

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, December 29, 2011

The city's plan to develop homes near Grace Lake isn't sitting well with one Yellowknife resident.

NNSL photo/graphic

Yellowknife resident Rohan Brown enjoys spending summer days canoeing and fishing on Grace Lake at the south end of the city. He is worried the city's plans to allow waterfront properties near the lake's shore will have a detrimental effect on the environment. - Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

The 2011 General Plan proposes that there be 30 homes built close to the lake's shore over a five year period. It's part of a decade-long plan to build 1,500 housing units in the city.

The plan states the Grace Lake lots will serve as a pilot project for for future waterfront homes, which will be under a five-year review and could be expanded by the city if the projects is deemed to be successful. Currently, there are only two longstanding residences on the shore at the east end of the lake.

“If development is allowed on there, I think it is important that they restrict what the property owners are allowed to do with the shoreline on the water there,” said Rohan Brown, who issued a written response concerning Grace Lake development that was included as part of submissions general plan public hearing Dec. 12.

Because the lake is narrow, the water is unusually calm for northern waters – to the benefit of canoeists and kayakers, he said. If homes are built, he fears this could lead to motorboat use on the lake, making it unsafe for canoeists and disturbing fish populations.

"If they are going to be allowed to have motorboats on the lake, it will ultimately alter the character of the lake," said Brown.

The General Plan, however, does take this concern into account, stating "motorized watercrafts are not permitted … to maintain the ecological integrity of the lake."

As well, homeowners will not be allowed “to install docks or other private structures on the shoreline.”

When it comes to public access, the plan also states that a 50 meter natural buffer will separate homes from the shoreline. A lakeside trail has yet to be decided.

Mayor Gord Van Tighem said the city has been interested in developing homes near the lake for many years, and included this goal in the city's Smart Growth Plan.

He said the project should help address affordability concerns and offer different housing lifestyle opportunities. He said he's only heard from a handful of people who are opposed to the idea.

"Anytime there is a new idea, there are going to be different sides and different views," he said. "In this instance, it is longer term residences that we are recommending going forward."

Eric Sputek, a member of the Kam Lake Property Owners Association, said as long as there is a buffer zone that delineates between neighbouring residential areas and the Kam Lake industrial area, his organization will support the project.

"As far as we can see, there is no reason why they shouldn't (develop)," said Sputek.

"The city does have to grow and this area is indicated in the Smart Growth Plan and has been talked about for some time. Granted there may be some things there needing to still be looked at, but the city has the option to implement special considerations to the area alongside the lake."

Brown said the proposed project is poor planning on the city's part.

"I don't know how you can say possibly that luxury waterside residences consist of smart growth," he said.

"If it truly is smart, the city should value and protect its most important natural areas. Grace Lake within Yellowknife, as I have argued, is probably the most important area in that it is a medium-sized lake, or larger, within the boundaries of the city."

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.