City looks at Con Mine area for new boat launch

A map showing the lands (dotted orange) the City of Yellowknife wants to acquire from the GNWT to give residents access to the waterfront and a boat launch. City of Yellowknife map
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The City of Yellowknife is looking at either buying or leasing a strip of lakefront land in the Con Mine area in order to construct a boat launch.

The city received information in 2018 that remediation efforts at the Giant Mine site will prevent access to the Giant boat launch, since then they have been looking for an alternative to it. City administrator Sheila Bassi-Kellett says the city plans to either buy or lease the shoreline land around the Con Mine dock from the GNWT.

This is one of the few places around Yellowknife with the depth needed to launch boats Bassi-Kellett says. Other areas such as School Draw Ave. near the entrance to the Dettah ice road are too shallow.

“There are not many points of access on this lake that have the depth of water that many of our boat owners need to be able to launch their boats. This is a prime one for us.”

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Director of planning and development Nalini Naidoo says the Con Mine area has been on the city’s radar for many years and acquiring the land is the first step, after which planning for a boat launch and other uses can begin.

“We’ve often talked about residential development, but here we have the chance to put the public infrastructure in first and then design a subdivision, which is really how you have success,” she said Monday, to applause from Councillor Niels Konge.

Councillor Shauna Morgan asked how much remediation had been done at the Con Mine site, as she wanted to be sure the city didn’t take on any liability for clean up of the site. Naidoo says these are questions the GNWT will deal with once the city asks to buy the land.

“The initial ask to the GNWT for the land will begin some of those discussions. There are questions they will have to ask themselves before they transfer lands to the city.”

Councillor Niels Konge says he only wants the city to ask the GNWT to buy the land, not lease it. He says leased land has caused the city immense headaches in the past, referencing the Otto Drive area specifically.

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“If we cannot get freehold interest, I don’t even want it. Because the amount of time that staff and council has spent dealing with these leaseholds that are near or on the waterfront is a staggering waste of time.”

Councillor Morgan spoke in favour of having the flexibility to go after either a lease or fee simple ownership of the land. Mayor Rebecca Alty agreed the city could achieve its objective of a boat launch, as well as a harbour trail along the shoreline as outlined in the 2012 Harbour Plan, with either a lease or fee simple ownership.

Bassi-Kellett says city administration heard council’s preference for fee simple ownership ‘loud and clear’. However, the need to get a boat launch built quickly might require the city to accept a lease.

“We don’t want to shut down the option of being able to lease with the ultimate goal being ownership, if that is the way we can acquire access sooner rather than later.”

Bassi-Kellett says the city has been talking to other groups who use the Giant Mine boat launch area, including the Great Slave Sailing Club and Yellowknife Historical Society, as a separate issue to the search for a boat launch.

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