City council knocked down a proposed amendment to the city’s community plan that would keep the status quo in Kam Lake.

Proposed by Coun. Niels Konge, the amendment would effectively leave Curry Drive with existing permissions and limit the expansion of dog lots there.

The amendment failed during a committee meeting Tuesday. Couns. Konge, Cynthia Mufandaedza, Steve Payne, and Robin Williams were for the proposal, Couns. Stacie Smith, Julian Morse, Shauna Morgan, and Mayor Rebecca Alty were against. Because it was a tied vote, the motion was defeated.

However, future discussion on what specific zoning will look like within the new area of Kam Lake South is still to come. Mayor Alty said the current stage is best understood as an overarching policy discussion on the area, preceding more detail-oriented conversations to come later. Future public consultation could also revive the debate.

In her response to the proposal, Coun. Morgan refused to support the proposal, which she said cuts to the heart of “who belongs in the community.”

If successful, the proposal would have meant the status quo, meaning lots are left as “legally non-conforming” — tolerated but not encouraged. Morgan argued that’s an unfair restriction on dog lot owners, stifling any potential expansion.

If passed, she said the proposal would tell dog mushers and kennel owners that “that they don’t really belong and that we will do everything we can in the future to stop them from evolving.”

Jordee Reid, president of Yellowknife Dog Trotters Association, told reporters Tuesday that she hopes to find a resolution to these concerns.

Jordee Reid, president of Yellowknife Dog Trotters Association, says renewed discussion caught her off guard.
Nick Pearce / NNSL Photo

For Reid, it felt like “the fight was over” when the association was permitted to buy the land earlier this year. “(However,) then this all came through, and it became evident to me the fight wasn’t over,” she said, noting it caught her off guard.

“It’s our traditional cultural practice of running dogs. It means a lot to us. And we’re not going to give that up,” she said.

While she recognizes the dogs can be noisy, Reid said the group wants to make the situation work and wasn’t asking anyone to move.

Konge’s proposal stated dog-trotters could stay in their current location but expansion would require moving over to Kam Lake South.

Reid said she isn’t considering expansion, though, it was hard to hear that it possibly wouldn’t be an option later.

“It just kind of hurts not to be welcomed with arms wide-open, because we’re doing that to other people that are coming into (the) Kam Lake area,” she said.

For Reid, the emotional discussion of continuing the fight is difficult. “Every single time that I have to make a speech, it takes a part of me to get up there and talk about who I am and what I do,” she said. “I think I’ve cried every time I have to make a speech to city council.”

Meanwhile, she approved of Morgan’s suggestion of inviting a mediator to broker a conversation between the mushers and other concerned parties. She said putting a face and a voice to a conversation would help residents raising concerns understand her perspective.

“It’s not just noise or smell; it’s real people trying to keep their culture alive,” Reed said, adding that face-to-face conversation was a “missing piece” so far.

Nick Pearce

Nick Pearce is a writer and reporter in Yellowknife, looking for unique stories on the environment and people that make up the North. He's a graduate of Queen's University, where he studied Global Development...

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