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Residents concerned about safety, privacy and traffic with Avens expansion

Concerns about safety, access, and the impact on the neighbourhood were flagged by Yellowknife residents as city council discussed the permit for the Avens senior’s home expansion.

Members of the public presented their concerns to city councillors at a governance and priorities committee meeting on Monday. 

Most of the concerns focused on the laneway, a narrow gravel stretch that connects Matonabee Street and the proposed parking lot attached to the extension.

“I totally agree with the need for more housing for seniors,” says Yellowknife Marilyn Malakoe. “But the design of the access to the building for residents is not safe.”

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Councillor Robin Williams asked why the laneway issue wasn’t dealt with before the decision on granting the conditional permit for the project was presented to council.

City administrator Sheila Bassi-Kellett said there’s extensive work that still needs to be done in the development of the project, and the city didn’t want to proceed without council approval.

“With the development of this size and magnitude, we’re looking at many different pieces of it,” Kellett said. “Currently, but the most important piece that’s very important to be able to obtain is council’s approval on the conditionally permitted use.”

The city is considering several options, according to Bassi-Kellett, including building a road. The most “pragmatic” option at the moment is a road connecting to Gitzel Street, but the city is working with traffic engineers to work out the impacts on traffic.

Traffic was another big concern, as residents and city administration say the laneway and the intersection with Franklin Avenue and Matonabee Street aren’t equipped to handle the increase caused by the development.

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The building will also have ‘profound’ negative impacts on the local neighbourhood, according to Yellowknife resident Colin Baile.

“Despite Avens’ 2014 commitment to design the structure with the windows angled and oriented away from our homes, they have created a monolithic amphitheater of spectators, whose primary view will be our backyards and our windows,” Baile said. “This represents an unacceptable level of intrusion of our privacy.”

Baile added council proceeding with this development could have longstanding impacts for Yellowknife.

“If bigger is always accepted as better, this city will be diminished and will discourage immigration,” he added.

City council will make their final decision on the project on February 8th.

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