The howls of protest from recreational dog mushers over city plans to push them out of Kam Lake have been quieted for now but they will surely sound off yet again.

The granting of a two-year lease extension to the Yellowknife Dog Trotters Association by city council takes the heat off the city, but ensures the next group of councillors will have their hands full. It’s unfortunate because after 40 years sheltering their dogs at Kam Lake, the dog trotters deserve some certainty as do the people the city has convinced in recent years to build $1 million homes a stone’s throw away at Grace Lake South.

The neighbourhood in Kam Lake has evolved since the Dog Trotters first leased their lot more than 30 years ago. It has transformed from a primarily industrial zone to a light industrial and commercial area with a growing residential population.

Herein lies the problem. Dog kennels and residential properties don’t mix. Kennels are noisy and smelly. There is simply no way to get them to conform to the 11 p.m. noise bylaw.
The problem began when the city started allowing caretaker residences in the Kam Lake industrial zone. Over time, as the city’s population grew, other neighbourhoods, such as Demelt Crescent and Block 550, have been allowed to pop up within ear shot of the howling dogs.

The association says its close to 200 dogs are a fraction of the 700 sled dogs, give or take, that live at Kam Lake on private property. But, the Dog Trotters, in spite of their vigorous protests to remain, are the easiest targets for removal because they don’t own the land.
Sooner or later city hall is going to have to come up with a solution, and council will be asked to approve it.

At this point it doesn’t appear realistic, despite the established presence of sled dogs at Kam Lake, for the dog trotters to remain. Yes, dog mushing is an important part of Yellowknife’s history and culture. Yes, dog mushing is attractive to tourists. But, as long as council continues to allow residential development to encroach on the dog mushers, they will continue to lose.

Hopefully, the two-year extension will give the city time to make the proposed Engle District relocation suitable for the dog trotters.

They have spent many years developing trails and other infrastructure for them, so the city must help them in this regard – plus allow for a caretaker residence. But, at this time, let it be it resolved that this does not lead to any more neighbourhood building in non-residential areas of the city.



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