North

4 Yellowknife MLAs ask GNWT to support relocation of city's visitors centre

Four Yellowknife MLAs are calling on the territorial government to step up and help the city's visitors centre find a new facility. Last week, the association that runs the centre revealed that it would be moving to a temporary location because of structural issues.

MLAs asking gov't to help find temporary facility, pay for relocation costs, help fund demolition

Four Yellowknife MLAs are calling on the territorial government to step up and help the city's visitors centre find a new facility. Last week, the association that runs the Northern Frontier Visitors Centre revealed that it would be moving to a temporary location because of structural issues. (Randall Mckenzie/CBC)

Four Yellowknife MLAs are calling on the territorial government to step up and help the city's visitors centre find a new facility.

Last week, the association that runs the city's visitor information centre revealed that it would be moving to a new, temporary location because of major structural issues.

The Northern Frontier Visitors Association has decided to leave its current building on 49th Street by May 15. 

According to the association's president, the city and territorial government have said they're committed to ensuring services aren't interrupted by the move, but it's not yet clear where the temporary location will be.

In a joint statement issued Monday, Yellowknife MLAs Julie Green, Cory Vanthuyne, Kevin O'Reilly and Kieron Testart called on the GNWT to support the continued operation of the facility.

'It needs to be open in a new location as soon as possible. I feel that the government has a role to play in that,' said MLA Julie Green, of the visitors centre. (CBC)

"We are heading into the season where people are visiting the North," Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green told CBC.

"We know that there are a record number of campsite bookings this year and so obviously the visitors centre plays a very important role in our community and with respect to our tourism industry."

The MLAs are asking the government to work with the city to secure a temporary location for the facility, to cover any relocation costs and to provide funds for the demolition of the existing building.

"It needs to be open in a new location as soon as possible. I feel that the government has a role to play in that," Green said.

"It is inconceivable that Yellowknife would not have a visitors information centre, nor can we ignore the needs of a volunteer organization that has done so much to support our economy."

'Immediate action is required'

The current centre, which opened about 25 years ago, had more than 50,000 visitors in 2016, according to its statistics.

The building sits on pilings and partly overhangs a small pond. It's been shifting and sinking for years, and the Northern Frontier Visitors Association says it's too expensive to make repairs and bring the facility up to code.

O'Reilly says the GNWT owns and operates most visitor centres across the territory, and that it's time for the government to support the one in Yellowknife.

"The government has been a constant champion for our tourism industry and now immediate action is required to ensure continuity of services for the upcoming tourism season," he said.

"This need for support is no different from what is being provided elsewhere in the territories."

Vanthuyne says MLAs will discuss the need for a new facility as part of the government's strategic planning process. 

Drew Williams, with the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, said in an email that the government is "working to ensure that there is no suspension of visitor centre services."

"We consider the services provided by this centre to be a valued part of our tourism product in Yellowknife."

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