Niven Lake to downtown Yellowknife: do you feel safe?

Niven Lake area
Road from Niven Lake (left) to downtown Yellowknife.
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The road between houses in Niven Lake and downtown Yellowknife is a disaster waiting to happen, say the city’s politicians.

MLAs Bob Bromley and Wendy Bisaro both urged the territorial government to repair the road and improve safety for pedestrians during Tuesday’s session at the legislature.

The transportation minister said it might be simplest if residents found another route.

“Thousands of Niven Lake residents have been left without safe, convenient pedestrian access to downtown despite increasing highway traffic,” said Bromley.

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“The Explorer Hotel is slated for expansion and another hotel has started development, further congesting this area with yet more traffic and destruction of some existing trails.

“This unacceptable delay has put the residents of Niven Lake, who commute to downtown by walking or bicycling, in an unnecessarily and increasingly dangerous plight. It is only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt.”

In full: Bob Bromley’s statement on Niven Lake pedestrians on OpenNWT.ca

Transportation minister Tom Beaulieu, in response, said improving the safety of pedestrians was “a very difficult situation”.

He added: “We have to get people from the Niven side of the road to (the legislature’s) side of the road, before they get to the rock cliff on which the Explorer sits. At that point there’s no more room on that side of the road.

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“It’s just not a simple solution. Our suggestion is that they use an alternative route to get to the city.”

That answer did not satisfy Bisaro, who pressed the minister for a commitment to not only improve pedestrian safety, but fix the highway itself.

In full: Wendy Bisaro’s questions and Tom Beaulieu’s answers on OpenNWT.ca

“Fix the road. Bring it up to code, bring it up to standard, and turn it over to the city,” said Bisaro.

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“That is a solution the city is quite willing to accept. The issue of trails, the issue of lights, the city is willing to take that on. The city simply needs to have the road brought up to the proper standard, transferred from GNWT to the city, and the city will then take over and put in the safety measures that are necessary.

“What is the holdup with the GNWT agreeing to do the necessary roadwork?”

Beaulieu replied that he “wasn’t aware” of issues regarding the road itself – to Bisaro’s surprise and concern – but added: “We want to sit down with the city and come up with a solution that will be feasible, and will work for the safety of the people accessing that road.”

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