Discover Kam Lake, 2019

Kam Lake – offering opportunities to keep people together

Mixed-use zoning offers local flavour unique to Yellowknife

by Michele Taylor

Northern News Services

From Arctic Farmer’s menagerie of animals and greenhouses to residential homes and industrial businesses, Yellowknife’s Kam Lake Industrial Park has been a landmark in the community since the city first opened the area to commercial and industrial use back in 1971.

At one point in time Kam Lake was out at the far reaches of town, as deep into the outskirts as one could get – home to dog mushers, industrial and commercial operators and business-owner’s residences. Back in those early days small caretaker suites, usually attached or built close to businesses, were a mainstay, and a necessity. Many business owners, including kennel operators, required caretaker quarters to protect their livelihoods from thieves and animal predators.

Now, the area has become a mix of zoning that has met up with the rest of the city to offer million-dollar lakefront homes around Grace Lake and a second residential development that went up next to the Great Slave Correctional Complex.

Brendan Burke/NNSL photo.
In recent years, the pressure to develop more residential land in Yellowknife has seen subdivisions, like Hall Crescent pictured here, pop up in the Kam Lake area.
July 28, 2018.

Controversy for industrial park

The area has seen its fair share of controversy over the decades, from residents protesting the building of a temporary work camp to complaints about animals on the loose. The industrial area has also been host to an ongoing lease issue with the Dog Trotters Association and the City of Yellowknife as the city looks to relocate the group and its animals adjacent to the residential zoned area in Kam Lake. The city first relocated the dog mushers from Niven Lake area out to Kam Lake and are now, 30 years later, hoping to move them further out to the edges of the industrial park. Association president Jordee Reid and fellow members of the Trotters recently made another plea to city council to allow it to remain at the original site. Council will vote on Aug. 25 on whether to extend the lease for another two years.

Brendan Burke/NNSL photo.
Caretaker suites, like the one pictured behind a matching Ford van, played an integral role in the growth of Kam Lake, as business-owners established small quarters to keep an eye on their livelihoods. But in the newly-formed Engle Business District, a zone where industrial businesses and kennel owners are being encouraged to relocated to, don’t allow for caretaker residences. For Jordee Reid and the Dog Trotters’, that’s a deal-breaker.
July 28, 2018.

Recreation destination

Kam Lake is also a bustling recreation area. Once the snow hits the ground, snowmobilers and dog teams have hundreds of kilometres of trails to head out on during the winter. In the summer you’re just a short drive up Deh Cho Boulevard to the Sand Pits where you can get out on a dirt bike or do some 4x4ing on the many trails on offer there. There’s also a shooting range for those who are looking to improve their aim.

This area of the city also offers a multitude of hiking areas for those looking for a more laid back natural experience. Even local business owners are looking at this area for tourism possibilities such as businessman Liang Chen who recently proposed to city council the idea of turning the old Iridium site into an aurora viewing hub.

Kam Lake mixes the garden city ideal of residential suburbia, connecting it with industrial and commercial use, creating a local flavour that is unique to Yellowknife while offering more opportunities to build an environment that keeps people together.