Plans to turn an abandoned Ingraham Trail stock car track into a motocross facility will have to wait.
That’s according to the territorial government, which has refused to grant the Yellowknife Motocross Association permission to go ahead and transform the track – last used in the 1980s.
The Department of Lands says the association must wait until a review of leases in the area is complete, which should be some time next year.
In pictures: Yellowknife’s abandoned stock car track
That review came about because of concerns over squatters and high demand for cabins on lakes bordering the Ingraham Trail.
In the legislature on Thursday, Frame Lake MLA Wendy Bisaro said the motocross group’s plan has nothing to do with lakes or cabin leases, and should be granted an exemption.
“They’ve been stymied by bureaucracy,” said Bisaro.
“Most people will remember the controversy last year over cabins and squatters using the lakes of Highway 4 close to Yellowknife. [But] the moratorium encompasses the very lakeless area of the old stock car track.
“The premise of the moratorium on recreational land leases was to halt new leases for cabins, hunting and fishing leases. The motocross association has no intention of building a permanent structure, certainly not a cabin, with no lake anywhere in sight.”
Lands minister Robert C McLeod was unmoved. He told Moose FM his department has to complete its review, and the association simply needs to be patient.
“We’re doing some work, and that work’s going to go on until early 2016,” he said. “We made it clear early on that we weren’t going to be entertaining any leases in that area until the work is done.
“They want an exemption to the work we’re doing – but then any group or individual can come to us afterwards and say, ‘Well, I’m special, I want an exemption from this.’ That would go against the whole principle of doing the work in the first place and making sure we have a good product on the ground before we start filling these areas up.
“We anticipate having this work done by early 2016 – probably March or April. If they can just bear with us while we get this work done, we’ll carry on from there.”
The Yellowknife Motocross Association says waiting until 2016 to apply means it’ll likely be 2017 before they have any actual access to the land – and that’s unacceptable, in their view.
“We feel that this [review] is not intended for all user groups and wrongly includes groups such as ours in a flawed policy,” the association said in a letter to politicians this week.
In response to McLeod’s suggestion that making one exemption would “open the floodgates” for more requests, motocross association president Jeff Corradetti tweeted: “There is no proof that this will happen.”