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Despite complaints from the public and requests from the city to clean it up, the developer behind Chateau Nova Yellowknife is not especially concerned about the messy lot in front of his sprawling hotel.

Sidney Cohen/NNSL photo
A broken-down white van and other materials lay strewn across the lot in front of the Chateau Nova Hotel.
Sept. 11, 2018

“We plan on cleaning it slowly,” Mike Mrdjenovich said on Monday.

Mrdjenovich said some materials are leftover from construction of the Chateau Nova, some are for the hotel’s parking lot – which is unfinished – and some are for a new project he has planned for the site off 48 Street, between the Chateau Nova and the turnoff to the Niven subdivision.

Mrdjenovich would not say what that new development will be, only that he is finalizing a design and wants to start construction next spring.

The city has not yet approved a development permit for Mrdjenovich’s lot.

As for what appears to be junk – a white van, scraps of wood and rusty metal – the developer said he intends to haul that stuff away.

“What is this all about, picking on Mike again?” Mrdjenovich said, when asked why building materials have been left on the lot, exposed to the elements, since construction started on the Chateau Nova in 2015.

“I just finished a month ago a construction job there, a $45-million job,” he said, referring to a recently-completed 73-unit addition to the Chateau Nova, and the total cost of building the hotel.

“Go and look at the hospital site, you’ve got materials laying right there, tell them to move that … out.”

But a number of Yellowknifers are fed up with the lot’s messy state.

“It’s really disgusting, it’s an eyesore, ”said Alida Walsh, who lives nearby.

“And that’s right at the entrance to the city. What kind of opinion would a visitor have driving into the city and seeing that dump, first thing?”

Walsh said she has twice complained to the city about the untidy lot, but has yet to receive a response.

Coun. Adrian Bell said four or five residents have contacted him about the Chateau Nova lot.

Bell said about a year ago, he was told the site would be clean by August of this year.

He said council discussed the matter privately a few weeks ago, but he would not elaborate on the talks as they involved negotiations with a company.

“My expectation would be that as soon as those materials aren’t needed, they would be moved,” said Bell.

“It is debatable as to whether any of them were needed in the first place,” he continued. “I don’t think a broken-down van counts construction materials.”

Bell said the city should have more stringent rules for the upkeep of construction sites in “high-profile” areas.

Chateau Nova is one of 15 Nova Hotels in Alberta, Saskachewan and NWT. Nova Hotels is owned by the Mrdjenovich family.

In an emailed statement, city spokesperson Iman Kassam said the lot’s owner knows the city wants the site cleaned up and that members of the public have been asking about it.

If efforts are not made to tidy up the lot, she said, the city will enforce the zoning bylaw, which would force Nova Hotels to clear the site.

The bylaw states that if the owner does not comply, the city can do the work itself, bill the owner and put a lien on the property until the owner pays up.

Kassam said enforcing of the zoning bylaw is a lengthy process. The city would rather find a solution with the owner than resort to enforcement.

The vice president of Nova Hotels said the company is aiming to have the lot cleaned up before snowfall.

“It’s currently undergoing cleaning as we speak and that will probably happen for the next few weeks,” said Michael Sieger.

Materials for the new development and the parking lot will be kept at the site, he said, but the company will ensure they are stored properly.

Sieger said the parking lot is scheduled for paving next spring.

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