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Trails desired by public, but take a backseat to new aquatic centre

Several parks and trail projects are being delayed because of spending cuts forecasted in the 2021 draft budget.

This is despite a city-run survey showing the public’s support for spending on parks and trails.

In a recent survey of 155 Yellowknife residents done by the city, in preparation for the draft of the 2021 budget, parks and trails were the most important thing to Yellowknifers, second-only to economic development.

Parks and trails were considered important or somewhat important to 90 per cent of Yellowknife residents. Parks were selected as a priority by the highest number of respondents, above things like roads and transit.

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But the draft budget for 2021 didn’t have any funding for capital projects for new trails. 

“We acknowledge that the time we’ve been in since March, the importance of people being able to access outdoor facilities has been absolutely heightened,” Sheila Bassi-Kellett, Yellowknife’s City Administrator, said in a committee meeting about the 2021 draft budget on Monday.

She added the city will be looking to keep the “same level of access if not more” to outdoor facilities by introducing more outdoor rinks and maintaining

The Niven Ravine trail is on the radar of the city, according to Grant White, director of community services, but has been deferred due to “a capacity issue.”

The same goes for a potential extension to the Frame Lake trail that would extend the footpath behind Stanton Territorial Hospital in the direction of the Staples on Old Airport Road. 

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There has been limited progress, said Bassi-Kellett, because most of the leads in the recreation department are focusing on the designs for the new aquatic centre. The city has also been waiting as the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation works with Stanton on an Indigenous wellness centre.

The budget is still evolving and as many cost savings will be worked in as possible, added Bassi-Kellett.

Members of the public can give presentations about concerns they have with the budget at council meetings scheduled for October 26 and November 16.

Deliberations on the budget will begin on November 30, with the budget set to be approved on December 7.

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