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Kam Lake Growth Area Consultation

Today we are coming to you about a municipal topic currently the focus of the planning department at the City of Yellowknife. The City has recently set out to learn more about what the community would like seen done with an area of land north of Grace Lake Boulevard and west of Enterprise Drive (behind our property), which is currently designated a “Growth Area”.

Last night we attended a focus group at City Hall with only one other Kam Lake business and several Grace Lake residents. While this area has loosely been discussed as a future agriculture development area, our industry lobbying organization was not in attendance.

The first thing that should be made clear is there is currently no plan for developing this area. It has not been designated anything. The planning department is simply gauging interest from the community about what might or might not work best for this area. They are trying to understand what the needs of the community are, where there is demand, and what wouldn’t be ideal.

We were there to be a voice as a small “resident-focused” Kam Lake business and attempt to be a voice for future “light” commercial agriculture development (what we might call small-scale horticulture) in Yellowknife.

Since starting up the Bush Order in 2020 we have constantly thought the area directly behind our property at the North end of Enterprise Drive would be ripe for agriculture development. There is less rock and since the clearing during the evacuation a large flat area ripe for cultivation.

While at the same time the Grace Lake residents collectively were advocating for buffer zone between their residential properties and any light-industrial or commercial development. Even from larger agriculture activities like a large pig lot (don’t worries we don’t want a pig lot).

What went around the table several times however was the fact that this “growth area” does not need to have any light-industrial or commercial, or it can be only in certain areas, such as sub-dividing the current area into different zones. Currently there are still lots for sale and under development in the Engle Business District, so does this area really need more industrial development?

A big takeaway from this process is that the survey being run has a slight perceived bias. In questions about what you would like to see in this area and what you would not like to see, it only offers a select number of options, similar to what is zoned in Kam Lake currently. It fails to educate the survey participant that this area is currently not zoned for anything, so it could be anything.

Ideas such as greenspace, parks and a dog park were floated in the focus group, but unless you think outside of the defined box of the survey it would be hard to capture that information from survey participants.

When it comes to agriculture in Yellowknife, we were advocating that, regardless if it is within this area or not, there should be future development planning specifically for properties zoned for agriculture. Zones that are taxed from the initial development as agriculture would significantly reduce a financial barrier for new entrants into the sector. Otherwise someone would have to do what we did and purchase a commercially taxed property and then advocate it be reassessed as agriculture.

Additionally, we’d were also advocating that agriculture overall in Yellowknife should be more clearly defined between backyard agriculture, commercial horticulture (primarily growing food) and commercial livestock agriculture (such as a chicken farm like Polar Eggs).

We’d be remiss if we didn’t say we’d like to see this area kept as a natural greenspace, or considered for future agroforestry or horticulture purposes in areas that would not require blasting of rock or backfilling. We’d like to see this space considered for purposes that benefit the entire community, be it through growing food or recreational enjoyment. Certainly a dream of ours would be to expanding our operation adjacent to our current property so our current infrastructure (water holding, tools, equipment, irrigation, etc.) could be shared.       

We encourage you to head to the City’s Placespeak digital tool and leave your comments. For the good of future agriculture development in Yellowknife, we encourage you to leave a comment in support of future agriculture or horticulture uses in a portion of this area.

Don’t want to leave a comment online? Send us your thoughts by email! We’d love to hear from you. 

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