High water levels are making some dock areas unsafe to operate and leaving boater wondering where to keep their vessels this summer.
The marina, owned by Sandra McDaniel and the Rocher family, told clients last month that slips would not be immediately available due to unsafe conditions.
She said the business would be able to raise the walkway in one area but, until waterlines recede, the marina’s available docking space would reduced by at least half.
Other Yellowknife boatyards are overflowing with interest, leaving boat-owners without a slot to stay docked this season.
Frank Dwyer, vice-commodore at the Great Slave Yacht Club, said their wait-list was already two to three years long, and growing, as marina clients scramble for options.
Paula Scott is one such client who had planned to keep her boat with the marina.
She acknowledges this year’s space issues are caused by “mother nature not their fault,” but emphasized that for a city surrounded by water it should not be this difficult to find room to tie up.
Without a spot to dock, Scott said she would have to hitch her boat to her truck every weekend, drive it to the water, back it into the lake, find parking, walk down to the water, and do the entire process in reverse to get the boat back into her driveway on return.
“I’m probably the best backer upper in this town,” she joked, describing the process of backing into the lake access by the Old Town three-way stop, “because we have to be.”
“It angers me that, here we are surrounded by water and we all have to jam up in Old Town.”
If there are people on a waiting list just to have a spot to tie boats off, it indicates an issue of access, she said.
Scott is calling on officials to create a boat launch along the shores of Con Mine.
She pointed to the city’s plan in 2019, slated to create more Yellowknife boating access while remediation work at Giant Mine rendered the water by the former gold mine inaccessible to the public.
The plan was later abandoned, however, as the remediation team indicated they would be able to maintain boat access at Giant Mine, after all.
In a statement from Oct. 14 2020, officials wrote that the GNWT and the project team would work to ensure continued remediation while ensuring public access to the lake. “This will enable the site to be remediated with the least possible impact to citizens.”
On renewed calls to increase docking space, city spokesperson Alison Harrower said that “the City of Yellowknife recognizes the importance of water access in Yellowknife,” and that the Giant Mine Remediation Project continues to be maintained for public access while work is conducted.
Scott said the Giant Mine site doesn’t provide enough space to meet residents’ needs.
McDaniel said the slots could still open if waterlines receded. “It’s unfortunate,” she said, “because people are used to the convenience of being able to park their boats there,” but that the business couldn’t risk putting clients in an unsafe situation.