"In the past I used to run on the trail by myself,” says Candice Lys. “Now that's something I wouldn't do.”
Lys used to be a regular user of the Frame Lake trail in downtown Yellowknife. Now she’ll only walk the trail with a group of friends.
“I think a lot of people in Yellowknife just feel that the trail is an unsafe place,” she says, “and that’s just a really awful feeling to have that somewhere right in the middle of your city is a no go zone.”
Just a few weeks ago, a teenager was assaulted and robbed on his way home in the evening. It was the latest in a string of incidents reported to the RCMP.
Last fall, about 200 people came out to a public safety meeting to talk about the trail.
As a result, RCMP officers pledged to patrol the trail by bike and ATV, and the City said its bylaw officers would be more visible.
“Based on events of last summer, I think there’s a little bit more of a fear that’s instilled in people,” says city councillor Linda Bussey. “People just don’t go on the trail like they used to.”
The City has made efforts to use the trail throughout the year by holding an Easter Egg hunt as well as events for Halloween and Christmas
But Bussey says no one person is responsible for trail safety.
“It’s something that we have to work together to resolve,” she says. “The more we use it, the more we’re gonna be comfortable on it.”
Bussey says any plans to make the trail safer also need to take into account everyone who uses the trail.
“Everybody knows there’s a lot of camping out. We need to work with people who are living on the trail — not in a punitive way, but in a supportive way.”
Bussey says she’s looking forward to a community meeting coming at the end of this month or early June, when Yellowknifers can again get together to discuss the future of the trail.
In the meantime, she thinks twice before using the trail: “I take the pulse of what’s happening around me,” she says, and advises others to do the same.
Lys is taking more of a wait and see approach, though she hopes one day to be able to run solo on the trail again.
“I love the idea of taking the trail back,” Lys says. “I think it’s a really great area within Yellowknife for people to go, and I’d like to see better safety measures in place so that everybody feels safe using the trail.”