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Zoning change for government dock
Area now a park area, city aiming to allow commercial use as well

Candace Thomson
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, February 18, 2014

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE
Government dock has been rezoned as a parks and recreation area by city council, but will still be open to commercial use - hopefully.

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Mayor Mark Heyck: The city plans to rezone goverment dock as a parks and recreation area, while still allowing conditional commercial use. - NNSL file photo

Council approved the bylaw changing the area from a mixed-use zone to parks and recreation on Feb. 10, and gave its first reading of a new bylaw that will allow conditional commercial use of the dock on a case-by-case basis.

"There was a fear that the city might phase out the commercial use of the dock as a working dock despite the fact that we have requirement in our lease with the federal government that stipulates that we must keep an area of it as a working dock," said Mayor Mark Heyck.

"Regardless, administration recommended creating a conditionally permitted use that would allow for both lake use and commercial uses."

These bylaws come after a year of public consultation and consideration of what to do with the dock since the city began a revamp of it and Pilot's Monument at a cost of $600,000 in April.

During discussion, Coun. Niels Konge was frustrated with the hassle of changing the zone to parks and recreation, and then changing the parks and recreation bylaw to allow for commercial use.

"I think at some point, commercial is commercial, parks and recreation is parks and recreation and now we're going to muddle the two together," Konge said. "The common sense is kind of going."

He expressed concern that if the bylaw is changed, commercial use could be permitted in all parks and recreation zones such as Somba K'e Civic Plaza.

"It could be a free-for-all, quite frankly, so how are we going to administer the requests to use our parks and recreation facilities for commercial use?" he asked.

"It's just the government dock in this one instance. It could potentially be (other areas) if something came to council and they approved it," Heyck told Yellowknifer last Wednesday.

Heyck said those wishing to operate commercially at the dock will go through administration with their requests.

"For virtually all of our parks, we own the property and you wouldn't have things springing up unless someone was to buy property from the city. The likelihood that that would ever happen is extremely low."

A public hearing will be held during the Feb. 24 council meeting at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre to hear concerns in regards to the rezoning. If the bylaw to allow commercial use doesn't have its second and third reading at that council meeting, it will take place in March and if passed become effective in the spring, Heyck stated in an e-mail Monday.

Heyck said commercial operators who have used the dock for years have been consulted and have given their approval to the changes.

"The process is intended to improve their operations from what is existing, which does not recognize the commercial operators as a priority in terms of docking," he stated. "We are also looking at setting up some space on the dock for fish operators or others to have vending space (i.e. fish fry)."

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