City councillors are frustrated with the land development process and the amount of red tape involved in to completing a subdivision in Yellowknife.
The issue came up during a committee meeting Tuesday. The city is attempting to move forward with the fifth and final “phase” of the Block 501 subdivision at the corner of Kam Lake Road and Coronation Drive. The area is significant because it is one of the few active areas of residential expansion in the city that is adding housing, and in particular, to the Kam Lake neighbourhood.
The Block 501 project began in 2012 under the direction of Les Rocher and Homes North. The final phase will eventually see 18 new homes built on a 1.1 hectare piece of land stretching around the back of the North Slave Correctional Centre and adjacent to Kam Lake.
An ongoing gripe by the municipality is that not all of the land within its boundaries is under its direct control.
On Tuesday, administration was asking for council’s approval to seek acceptance for the fifth phase of the subdivision to move ahead.
Coun. Julian Morse pointed out that council is legally required to send a Community Plan – which sets out the city’s long term vision for city development – to the GNWT Department of Municipal and Community Affairs roughly every 10 years. That document has been in the process of being approved MACA to be brought back to council for third reading since December.
The city has to go to the GNWT for approval each time there is interest in developing property such as in the case of a new subdivision. Council heard that this even includes land that is not Commissioner’s Land and land that has already been transferred to the city from the territorial government.
“I doubt that there is another jurisdiction in this country that has that level of micromanagement by a territorial or provincial government of a municipal government,” Coun. Julian Morse said. “One of the levels of government doesn’t need to be there. You only need to govern land once.”
Morse said there was a need to raise the issue for changes to legislation with territorial MLAs.
“It just boggles my mind how much review and approval all of this stuff within the municipal boundary is getting from government,” Morse said. “Is there a point in there being a municipal government or should the GNWT just be approving everything?”
Coun. Niels Konge expressed equal amounts of frustration calling the process “ridiculous.”
“We have almost no ability as a municipality to go out and develop land,” he said, pointing out that after multiple back and forth requirements between the city and the GNWT when there is interest in land development, it can take two to three years before changes can take place on a piece of land.
“We’re being crippled as, as a municipality and as a territory by these archaic rules that we have to follow. It’s totally insane. Most words I can’t even say in a public meeting (regarding) what I think of this.”
Councillors are expected to vote on the issue at their next regular meeting July 13.