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Frustration on ice
No dispute resolution for dissatisfied neighbour over winter road location on Yellowknife Bay

Erin Steele
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Two neighbours at odds over the placement of an ice road on frozen Yellowknife Bay have no recourse to resolve their dispute as the city has no control over activities on the water.

NNSL photo/graphic

Adele Sheldon, pictured with three-year-old son Mason, lives on Yellowknife Bay and is frustrated her neighbour built an ice road beside her family's skating rink, which she says creates a hazard. Currently, there is no recourse for Sheldon through the City of Yellowknife as it has no jurisdiction over the waters there, though that may change in the future. - Erin Steele/NNSL photo

Adele Sheldon lives in Old Town by a skating rink her husband carved out onto the lake for their three children. Last week, her neighbour, who lives on a houseboat attached to shore, built a road just east of the rink beside his boat, which she says creates a hazard for her children.

"It's very disheartening because the kids want to play on it," said Sheldon.

She said she worries that vehicles using the road may take the corner too fast, lose control and enter the rink while her children are skating. This road attaches to a main road to the south of the rink, which then links to the Dettah Ice Road. There is also a road on the opposite side of her neighbour's houseboat that has been carved out for some time.

Scott Mitchell, owner of the houseboat and Sheldon's neighbour, says the road that is causing worry is a driveway he builds every year.

"I've been utilizing that side of the boat for a driveway for the last five years and this year, they built a rink that hasn't been built before for many, many, many years," said Mitchell.

He added he built the road when he did because he needed to move a boat backwards to expose a hook needed in a photo shoot last weekend.

As it stands, disputes over building rights on the bay are not easily resolved as the municipal government has no jurisdiction over the waters. But according to Mayor Mark Heyck, this could potentially change.

"One of the major initiatives in the harbour plan is for the city to seek jurisdiction to the lake bed in Yellowknife Bay," he said.

The harbour plan has been in the works since 2010 and seeks to provide a long-range vision for the bay.

"Theoretically, in the future, we might have a hand in mitigating any dispute like that. But at this time, unfortunately, we have absolutely zero control over what happens over the lake," he said.

Sheldon says she does understand that Mitchell currently has just as much of a right to build his road as her family does to build their rink - she just hoped for some neighbourly understanding.

"I can't control anybody, I can't control anything. I just wanted to make a little fun for the children," she said.

Heyck said residents' input - including both Sheldon and Mitchell - is paramount in moving forward with plans for Yellowknife Bay.

"One of the things that we've said as we move forward with seeking jurisdiction over the lake-bed is we want to involve the houseboat community and people who live along the waterfront there to make sure that whatever plans are put in place, should plans be put in place, they are fundamentally involved in how that moves forward," said Heyck.

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