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EDITORIAL: Yk in the summer

As we head into nearly 19 hours of daylight, people prepare for the peak period in the territory for outdoor activities.

Yellowknife is a premier, outdoor enthusiast's dream come true. With plenty of camping, fishing, hiking, biking and festivals, the NWT is a prime destination for residents and tourists alike during our “other” season – summer.

Nestled atop the Earth’s oldest rocks, the city is a juxtaposition of landscapes that are as old as the Earth itself. With modern eateries, pubs, restaurants and hotels mixed with the quaintness of Old Town and quick and easy access to one of the best and biggest lakes in the world, Great Slave Lake.

There are only a few things that are truly stopping Yellowknife from being the cream of the crop and that comes down to infrastructure and more incentives to live in or visit our beautiful North.

The GNWT has been doing a reasonably good job playing catch-up with the territory's growing tourism sector when it comes to improvements on already existing parks and campgrounds around the territory. Add to that a new campground coming to North Arm Territorial Park. But, there’s plenty more work that needs to be done.

First and foremost is replacing or finally repairing the shuttered Northern Frontier Visitor's Centre, closed now for two years because of structural problems with the existing facility on 48 Street. It's unacceptable to not have a proper tourism centre in the territory's capital where most of the tourists come.

More signage and a Dene cultural centre downtown should also be added to the wish list.

Kudos must go to companies such as TerraX, not only is the company continuing its gold mining exploration, but it has also done work in the community to beautify the Martin Lake Trail by helicoptering out loads of gravel to create an amazing space for residents and future tourists to enjoy.

For residents specifically, a remaining sore point is the lack of leasable land to build cottages.

The GNWT should work with the Yellowknives Dene to open up and incentivize more leased land by allowing the First Nation to collect lease payments on their traditional lands.

The present situation is simply unsustainable with squatters building cabins largely unopposed on any body of water where they feel they can get away with it. With better anti-squatter enforcement and incentives more attractive to the Yellowknives so they can collect on the leases themselves, the GNWT could get better control over the squatter situation and would-be cabin owners would have more leasing opportunities in cottage country.

This territory is full of brilliant, forward-thinking people who have the ability to see potential where other’s may not. All we need to do is provide the means for them to get creative.