How well does the GNWT look after the land?

This is a rather important question because since devolution they have a large parcel of land to look after. A clue to the way they operate can be found in a parcel of land around Yellowknife known as Commissioner’s land, which the GNWT has administered and inspected for decades.

If you drive out the Vee Lake Road, you cross over to Commissioner’s land just before the turnoff to the lake. If you continue along the road, you go past a burrow pit and then up a hill with a cement survey marker on top. It also has a great view.

In that burrow pit, you see a line of old rusting vehicles that have been burnt and riddled with bullet and shotgun holes. There is another in the bush surrounded by an old washer, dryer, hot-water tank and assorted garbage and debris. This is only the tip of the iceberg of all the garbage, litter, appliances, abandoned camps and junk you will find strewn across Commissioner’s land and in the lakes as well.

I stopped to take a few pictures of this mess and a vehicle full of visiting aurora viewers also stopped to see the carnage. Only one could speak English, sort of, and asked what it was all about.

“War?” was her question.

We tried to explain that the garbage dump in town charged people a lot of money for taking things, so there were some people who just hauled it out of town and dumped it. Then the yahoos come out to party, shoot and set the things on fire. Often raging hormones and the over-consumption of alcohol were contributing factors.

That explanation seemed to satisfy them because they could understand people wanting to save money and I guess yahoos creating mayhem and destruction is a worldwide phenomenon. However, if we hadn’t been there, I just wander what they would have made of the whole scene. They certainly took a lot of photographs.

Up the hill from the burnt-out wrecks are a pile of firecracker tubes which looked like artillery casing and at the top were several square meters where the ground was covered with nails and those spikey plates used to connect wood together. A place where a lot of pallets had obviously been burnt. A place sure to give a flat tire to vehicles.

I was sorely tempted to spin a yarn.

“Ah yes, this is the remains of a convoy of GNWT inspectors, bureaucrats and civil servants, sent out from Yellowknife to bring law and order to the Commissioner’s land. Shortly after crossing the border, they were ambushed by the ice pirates, the squatter’s militia, the 4×4 raiders and a motley crew of yahoos, vandals, and delinquents, better known as the YVD freedom fighters. No one was harmed but the GNWT bunch were forced to walk back to town without their shoes or personal items. Meanwhile their vehicles were riddled with gun fire and set a blaze.”

The burned-out vehicles were left behind to mark the border. On the city side, you have a semblance of law and order, but on the GNWT side, anarchy and chaos reign supreme. Once people cross that magical line, they feel they can do whatever they want, whenever they want and whereever they want and no one from the GNWT or the federal government will step across that line to stop them.

If the Commissioner’s land is any example of how the GNWT treats the land, we are in big trouble and need to rectify this situation. I would put it in everyone’s job description from the premier to the bureaucrats and civil servant, right down to the contract workers and janitors.

If you see litter, garbage, or debris on the ground, it is your job to stop and pick it up. If it is too big for one person to manage, it is your duty to notify the Department of Lands, and they have 48 hours to clean up the mess.

In my opinion territorial land should not look like a war zone. Not only is it bad for the environment, it scares the tourists.

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