North

'There's just no space': Boaters say more parking needed at Prosperous Lake

A busier-than-normal season at a lake near Yellowknife is making some boaters and cabin owners worried about parking congestion — and the dangers that may pose.

'It wouldn’t surprise me if there was an accident,' says cabin owner

Some people who've owned cabins on Prosperous Lake for at least 18 years, say they've never seen the lake's boat launch this congested. They say it's likely partly because of the additional cabin lots that now surround the lake. (Alyssa Mosher/CBC)

A busier-than-normal season at Prosperous Lake near Yellowknife is making some boaters and cabin owners worried about parking congestion — and the dangers that may pose.

On a busy weekend afternoon, trucks and boat trailers fill the parking lot, some also lining the highway at a bend in the road.

Some people say not only does the extra congestion increase the wait time for the small boat launch, but it also makes it dangerous for drivers and pedestrians along the Ingraham Trail. The maximum speed limit is 70 km/h, but many drivers travel at least 10 kilometres faster than that.

On high-traffic boating weekends, vehicles and boat trailers line the bends of the road that leads to the Prosperous Lake launch. Some cabin owners say they've seen so much congestion at this boat launch and say something needs to be done about it. (Alyssa Mosher/CBC)

"It wouldn't surprise me if there was an accident," said Bill Stirling, whose family has had a cabin on Prosperous Lake for more than 40 years.

Stirling says drivers are "ripping" around the road's bend near Prosperous Lake, which "could cause an issue."

"I feel they're definitely going to have to expand the lot or put extra parking [on the other side of] the road," Stirling said.

Roger Walker agrees. He's had a cabin off Cassidy Point on Prosperous Lake for 18 years. He doesn't use the lake's boat launch often, but the one time he did use it this year on the Canada Day long weekend, there was "no place to park."

"They're going to have to do something about that," Walker said.

N.W.T.'s Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) is responsible for territorial parks, including the one at Prosperous Lake.

A boat skips by on Prosperous Lake, one of the busiest boating lakes close to Yellowknife. (Alyssa Mosher/CBC)

Drew Williams, a spokesperson for ITI, says the department doesn't have any plans to expand the boat launch area, but it is aware of the congestion.

"We are monitoring the situation, and the concerns that are being raised will inform future planning and discussions and processes," he said in an email response.

Walker and Stirling say the overcrowding is partly because of the number of cabins that now surround Prosperous Lake.

Stirling says over the last 15 years, about 20 new lots have been added around the lake, by both the federal and territorial government.

"That's added to the congestion, definitely," he said.

Not the only overcrowded boat launch

Prelude Lake's boat launch is also seeing its share of congestion this year.

Jennifer Barry, who has been operating the marina at Prelude Lake for eight years, says she's never seen the boat launch so overcrowded.

She says it's likely because the marina hasn't been operating this summer as most of the docks are not useable due to low water levels.

Clark Marcino says he has seen water levels drop every year since he bought a cabin on Prelude Lake in 2011, making more and more docks unuseable.

According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, water levels at Prelude Lake are about a metre higher than last year and one-third of a metre lower than the 12-year average.

Marcino says he and some other boaters have had to wait 15 to 20 minutes to launch their boats on the lake.

"It's definitely a little annoying," Marcino said. "You get out there, you want to get out on the water as quickly as possible… so having to wait in a lineup is not a lot of fun."

If the marina were up and running, it would be smooth sailing, he says. That's why he thinks a marina could help with the congestion at Prosperous Lake.

"A marina takes some of the pressure off the boat launch, so not so many boats and trailers have to be backed in and hauled out of the water every weekend or every day," he said.

But cabin owners on Prosperous Lake aren't so keen on that idea.

Some boaters and cabin owners at another territorial park on the Ingraham Trail say Prosperous Lake isn't the only boat launch that's overcrowded: Prelude Lake has also been congested this summer partly because the park's marina isn't usable due to low water levels. (Alyssa Mosher/CBC)

"I'd worry about garbage being left behind, fuel going in the water, those types of things," Stirling said.

He and Walker also don't think expanding the current parking lot at Prosperous Lake is necessarily the answer, as that could involve filling a small section of the lake with dirt, which would "be a fish-habitat problem and of course change the lake bottom," Stirling said.

He says clearing a space for parking across the road from the boat launch, to at least get the extra cars off the side of the highway, is the best approach.

"The highway itself is becoming busier and busier, you've got boats trying to find spots along the road.

"There's just no space," he said.

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