North

Big, secret plans emerge for former treatment centre property near Yellowknife

A Vancouver company is rumoured to be planning a big project on the Dettah road near Yellowknife, but has yet to talk to the Yellowknives Dene First Nation about it or file any applications to build.

Vancouver companies trying to capitalize on high-end Chinese aurora tourism

A 28-bed treatment centre on the Dettah road near Yellowknife operated for only eight years after it was built, shutting down in 1999. (CBC)

A Vancouver company is rumoured to be planning a big project on the Dettah road near Yellowknife, but has yet to talk to the Yellowknives Dene First Nation about it or file any applications to build.

The company, Coromandel Aurora BT Ltd., bought the buildings and land that were once used as a residential addictions treatment centre for $1.5 million last November, according to land titles documents.

The deal represented a quick profit for the seller, Arctic Outback Adventures, a Vancouver company that recently started catering to Chinese aurora tourists in Whitehorse. Just four months earlier Arctic Outback had purchased the property from the N.W.T. Housing Corporation for $880,000.

Emil Fung, the CEO of Arctic Outback, said the sale to Coromandel included a confidentiality clause that prohibits him from giving out any details on what Coromandel had in mind for the site.

"When we sold it, they had huge plans for it," said Fung.

"They hired big architects. We were only planning to do a small boutique hotel."

One Yellowknives Dene chief said the First Nation was approached by Arctic Outback when it owned the property, but was unaware of who the new owner is. Though privately-owned, the treatment centre property is within the First Nation's traditional territory.

"The GNWT is supposed to inform us what's happening," said Chief Ernest Betsina.

"They haven't really done their job well."

Coromandel Aurora BT Ltd. bought the buildings and land that were once used as a residential addictions treatment centre for $1.5 million last November. (CBC)

Coromandel was registered as a business in the N.W.T. the same day it closed the deal for the property.

Its sole director, Zhen Yu Zhong, did not return phone calls from CBC. He works for Coromandel Properties, a Vancouver-based developer that specializes in high-end condominiums in that city.

Both Fung and Betsina said they had heard that demolition of the buildings on the old treatment centre site is imminent. Yet Coromandel has yet to apply for any permits, according to the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board.

All of the buildings there were still standing as of Tuesday.

The 28-bed treatment centre operated for only eight years after it was built, shutting down in 1999. The territorial government said it was underused.

According to news reports, the housing corporation took ownership of it when it shut down, when the original owner, Northern Addictions Services, failed to keep up with mortgage payments. It's been largely unused since then and has fallen into disrepair.

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