Developer waiting on permits to build Niven Lake hotel
'They don't like me,' Mike Mrdjenovich says of City of Yellowknife
A developer who plans to build a hotel next to Yellowknife's Explorer Hotel is annoyed by the permitting process required by the City of Yellowknife.
Nova Builders bought about four hectares of land near Niven Lake between the Explorer Hotel and the Northland Utilities substation last year.
The company has a permit to blast rock and clear trees from the property, but owner Mike Mrdjenovich says his plans to start building this summer are not possible now as he doesn't have a development permit yet from the city.
In 2000, Mrdjenovich said he would never build in Yellowknife again after disputes with city council over a proposed development at Twin Pine Hill. Nova Builders has constructed a number of projects in the city since then. Some have involved blasting or levelling the natural rocky landscape.
Naturalist Jamie Bastedo is concerned about the Niven Lake area and its nature trail. He says the value of the area can't be measured in dollars and he's worried Mrdjenovich doesn't see it that way.
"There's a bit of an attitude problem," says Bastedo. "And like I say, nature seems to be something in the way rather than this beautiful amenity that needs to be preserved."
Mrdjenovich makes no apologies.
"I paid big money for that property, and it's mine. It's not protected nature," he said.
He says the city is dragging its heels on the permitting process.
"They said, 'We need this and this and this.' We give them that and then we come back, 'Oh we need this and this and this.' We come back, they have some more. And latest one was little ducks. I don't know. I'm just waiting now. Waiting game."
Mrdjenovich says he thinks the delays are personal.
"They don't like me," he said. "If my name is Mr. Jones or Smith, it would already be being built. I don't know what their problem is with me but I guess they're scared I'm going to make few more dollars."
The director of city planning and development says the city is still waiting on updated plans for a new water and sewer line as well as an updated plan on where the hotel will be built.
"The city's working cooperatively with Mike in terms of facilitating this development," said Jeff Humble. "It's in everyone's interest to ensure that the water, sewer, the infrastructure is going to match up with the elevations of where the hotel is going to be."
The city says the wait will be over if Mrdjenovich submits new plans. They'll then issue the development permit and it will be posted online for 14 days. The public will be able to appeal it during that time.
If it goes through, Mrdjenovich will have to provide more documentation in order to get a building permit.