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The Gateway to Old Town? City has big plans for barren Yellowknife lot

An unpaved, anonymous Yellowknife lot could become an attraction in its own right under city plans to make it a 'gateway node' for Old Town.

New parking spaces are first step in scheme to transform Old Town entry point

The paving project, set to begin this summer, should create 25 or more sought-after parking spaces on the edge of the historic Old Town district, city administrators say. (Ollie Williams/CBC)

A patch of land on the edge of downtown Yellowknife could become the new "Gateway to Old Town."

This week, city administrators presented plans to pave the lot between Franklin and School Draw Avenue.

The project, set to begin this summer, should create 25 or more sought-after parking spaces on the edge of the historic Old Town district.

But the city also wants the lot to become "a gateway node" — a pleasant, tourist-friendly entry point to Yellowknife's oldest streets and businesses.

"We have an opportunity here to really reflect the unique character and authentic feel of Old Town, so that we can incorporate this kind of a gateway concept," Sheila Bassi-Kellett,Yellowknife's senior administrative officer, told city councillors.

'Cherished and historic'

The Franklin/School Draw lot is a triangle of barren, unpaved land presently used for parking almost by default. A city sign advises it is open to vehicles using the nearby boat launch.

Work to pave the lot is scheduled to begin in August or September, at a cost of $250,000 for the paving and $15,000 for operations and maintenance.

Turning that into a fully-fledged "gateway node" is expected to come later — with few ideas currently on the table for how that gateway should look.

That's where city councillors believe residents should come in.

The City of Yellowknife wants to turn this area into a tourist-friendly 'gateway' before entering Old Town. (Ollie Williams/CBC)

A public consultation is proposed for the coming months, to gather ideas for what the gateway should feature. Early suggestions include artwork, landscaping and a connection to the Twin Pine Hill trail.

"I'm curious to see what the public has to say," said Coun. Julian Morse.

"I agree that this is a tourist destination for Yellowknife. It's a cherished and historic neighbourhood, and we need to be quite careful what we do in terms of development there," he said. 

The Franklin/School Draw lot is a triangle of barren, unpaved land presently used for parking almost by default. A city sign advises it is open to vehicles using the nearby boat launch. (Ollie Williams/CBC)

Since the opening of Old Town brew pub The Woodyard in late 2015, parking in the area has been at a premium — and a priority for city planners.

A proposal to install angle parking along Franklin Avenue last year was abandoned following opposition from residents.

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