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TALES FROM THE DUMP: Feds should do what's best for the city and its residents

Walt_Humphries Tales from the Dump
Tales from the Dump

The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things, of sails and boats and dredging services, of bureaucrats and kings; and why things must be done Ottawa’s way and whether the people of Yellowknife have any say.

The Giant Mine Remediation team is making the rounds telling people that the city boat launch will be closed for several years, that the sailing club will have to vacate their facility for at least one year and that big things will be happening at the old mine site, eventually. They talk, people listen, they shake their heads and seem to agree.

No one seems to be questioning these orders from on high. And in this case that means decisions made by some nameless bureaucrats in Ottawa, who could care less about Yellowknife. Only a few of them have even visited here briefly, before scurrying back to their comfortable jobs and their idea of civilization. The orders may be delivered by the local Remediation Team but make no mistake, they are coming from bureaucrats in Ottawa.

There is supposed to be a well-paid Giant Mine Oversight Committee in place, to protect Yellowknife’s interests, but they seem to be strangely silent about all of this. City council listened politely to everything that was being said but didn’t seem to question any of it or object. We also have the sailing club and the Yellowknife Historical Society (of which I am a member), who have done a lot of work improving the area. Plus, of course, the city residents and boaters. Everyone seems to be running scared and confused and not objecting. A bureaucrat in Ottawa has spoken. Who could possibly question their profound wisdom on such matters?

So far, all we have are the broad strokes of the government's plan and darned few details but as we know the devil is in the detail. It goes without saying that it should be part of the government's mandate to disrupt things as little as possible, to accommodate those using the area and to be looking out for Yellowknife's best interests. It should be a part of their mandate. But unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be the case.

The federal government wants to clean up some contaminated sediments along the shore, all the way from the sailing club past the old townsite and farther up the lake. Just how they plan to do this hasn’t be specified other then by some form of dredging and I assume they will do it in sections, with some sort of underwater curtain to keep material from going into the lake proper. It is supposed to take one year, probably during the summer.

Now, those of us who live in Yellowknife know that Back Bay opens up long before Yellowknife Bay or Great Slave Lake. So, if the contractor doing the dredging were all set to go when there was enough open water around the Bay, they could dredge the area in front of the sailing club and the city boat launch first. This would be less than five per cent or even one per cent of what is to be dredged. They could replace the docks and the boat launch and get this done before boating season even started. Then while people are using both those facilities, they could dredge the other areas. Problem solved, neither the sailing club nor the city boat launch would have to moved or shut down at all. Not even for a single season.