North

Dene, city at odds over sandpits plans

A Northwest Territories MLA says he worries the community affairs minister is giving the Yellowknives Dene a preferential nod for a valuable piece of land in Yellowknife.

A Northwest Territories MLA says he worries the community affairs minister is giving the Yellowknives Dene a preferential nod for a valuable piece of land in Yellowknife.

The Yellowknives want to build as many as 400 houses at the sandpits near the Yellowknife airport.

But the City of Yellowknife has had its eye on the same piece of land for years. It wants to develop an industrial park there.

In January, however, the municipal and community affairs minister, Michael McLeod, gave the Yellowknives permission to survey the land.

He says he saw no need to consult with the city at this stage.

"We're nowhere near approving anybody's application. There's a number of applications out there, but at this point we've granted permission to do some early seismic work in that area and that's what it's limited to."

But MLA Dave Ramsay says both the city and other cabinet ministers should have been involved in the decision.

He says it's hard to believe that no additional promises have been made to Deton' Cho, a development company owned by the Yellowknives.

"That's not what I'm hearing," he says. "I'm hearing Deton' Cho and the Yellowknives Dene are working with a southern firm to develop a residential community out there."

Ramsay says even if no decisions have been made, it will be difficult for the minister to say no to the Yellowknives once they've carried out surveys.

Airport officials are also interested in the land for a potential expansion of the Yellowknife airport.

And the city also plans to put a road through the sandpits to create an industrial access road to Kam Lake.

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