Council Briefs: City floats fire hydrant infrastructure expansion

by Avery Zingel - May 8, 2018

Council will direct city administration on whether to expand fire hydrant infrastructure, amid discussions over a marketing plan to dispose of lots in Engle Business District Phase Two.

City council a full house as city councillors discuss lot disposals, fire hydrant expansions, land pricing and overhaul to the city’s code of conduct.
Avery Zingel/NNSL

Councillors Shauna Morgan and Julian Morse said they support changes to fire suppression infrastructure but that a recommendation with significant ramifications city-wide should be discussed as individual recommendations.

As the city plans its land development in the Engle business district, it is also considering the extent of its firefighting infrastructure.

A fire hydrant installation is up for consideration on Deh Cho boulevard with space for a truck turnaround and connection to city sewers.

There are already fire suppression measures built into development costs, however, council could direct a broader fire hydrant expansion plan to consider any area of the city serviced by trucked water.

“I certainly support this initiative,” said Coun. Shauna Morgan, adding that fire hydrant expansions are significant enough to warrant their own discussion separate from motions on developing Engle.

Coun. Julian Morse was in favour of the recommendation, but asked that similar recommendations be brought forth individually.

“It would be my preference in the future that recommendations like this that have wide ramifications for the city that it just come to council separately so that we can … give them our full consideration,” said Morse.

“Right now hydrants are only in a certain area of the community,” said Naidoo. “It seems to keep coming up as a question around fire safety in the city.”

Development costs for the Engle business district are approximately $9-million, the memo states. The potential value of the lots is $15.4-million.

If all lots are sold, the city could make anywhere between $5.2 and $6.4-million.

Councillor’s inquired about the residential land value, and whether residents would be able to connect to city water.

The city is not bringing forth an amendment on the zoning bylaw to allow for residential development, said Naidoo.

“The next time we plan a subdivision, we will work a lot closer with public safety and public works if we want those residential components,” said Naidoo.

Any expansion plan would be phased, said Dennis Marchiori, the city’s public safety director.

The Engle Business district is designated as an industrial area, for relocation of existing industrial uses in parts of the city including Old Town, Downtown, Old Airport Road and Kam Lake.

Extending the hydrant infrastructure would shorten the distance of water shuttle services and reduce turnaround times for fighting fires.

“We’re not going to install enough hydrants so that we can fight fires from the highway, but the whole idea is to shorten the shuttle service and maintain a certain amount of water available to the firefighters,” said Dennis Kefalas, the city’s director of public works and engineering.

Engle development warrant talks on city land pricing, says Konge

Coun. Neils Konge voiced his support for the expansion of fire infrastructure, but is pushing for the city to discuss its land pricing philosophy.

The Deh Cho hydrant upgrade will be funded in part by land development in the business district, a city memo states.

“It reaffirms my thought that the city was making a tonne of money on land building,” said Konge.

A city memo states that the total cost of $500,000 will be covered up to $200,000 by the city and 40 per cent from Engle Phase 2.

Inquiring about where that 40 per cent will come from, Kong said, “Ok so we’re just going to find the money somewhere, that’s a perfectly good answer.”

Any profit from development and land sale go directly back into the Land Development Fund to acquire and develop other city land, said acting senior administrative officer Nalini Naidoo.

The memo on Engle is the “best” Konge has seen in his time as a councillor because it clarifies cost and profit of city land developing, he said.

“I think council needs to discuss land pricing. Do we want to make 50 per cent? Hopefully in the future, council can have a discussion on our philosophy on land sales,” said Konge.

City looks at lot for Habitat for Humanity

The city discussed this week disposing of a lot to Habitat for Humanity at 26 Spence Rd. for a nominal fee.

The lot was specifically requested by Habitat for Humanity because it has more favourable bedrock conditions than a neighbouring lot.

Coun. Neils Konge asked for additional information on why the specific lot was chosen or if variances would be required.

“I’m not sure these are the right lots that we should be disposing of. The partnership between habitat and the city has been a good one,” said Konge, acknowledging that some of the lots taken up by habitat have been harder to develop.

“I think we owe it to ourselves and to the citizens of Yellowknife to ensure that we’re not handing the best lots that we have off.”

Deputy Mayor Adrian Bell inquired if the lot was suitable to build a standard size modular home.

The city has no shortage of available lots, said Nalini Naidoo, acting senior administrative officer.

“There are quite a few lots still available. That might be something for council to also consider. It’s not like we’re down to the last three lots in the subdivision,” said Naidoo.