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Community Planning Process & Land Use Challenges

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July 2019 Update

Akaitcho Interim Land Withdrawal within Yellowknife

The City of Yellowknife is currently undertaking an update to the 2012 General Plan, now called Community Plan. The new Community Plan is the road map for how land will be used and planned for over the next 20 years and needs to consider sustainability, the environment, economic, social and cultural aspects. Part of the process is looking ahead and anticipating what will happen with the land within City limits as well as with the land surrounding us for the next 10 years.

Yellowknife’s neighbours include the Akaitcho Dene First Nations, the representative body of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (Dettah and N’Dilo), Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation, and Deninu K’ue First Nation.

The Akaitcho Dene First Nations (ADFN), the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and Government of Canada (Canada) are currently negotiating an Agreement-in-Principle on land, resources and self-government. The parties signed a Framework Agreement on July 25, 2000 in Deninu K'ue (Fort Resolution). The Framework Agreement lists the subjects for negotiation and describes how the parties will negotiate an Agreement-in-Principle and Final Agreement.

As neighbours to the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, the City of Yellowknife acknowledges and respects the Akaitcho Interim Land Withdrawal process that is currently taking place.

Take a look at the map to see the Akaitcho Interim Land Withdrawal within Yellowknife.

What does it mean for Yellowknifers?

The purpose of the Land Withdrawal is to protect lands of interest to the Akaitcho from being sold, leased or otherwise disposed of while negotiations are underway. This means that no new interests can be created on the withdrawn lands until an Akaitcho agreement is reached. It also ensures that any existing interests on these lands are protected during the period of the withdrawal. Though the withdrawn areas as shown on the map are not final and can change as part of the negotiation process, current use of the land might change once a final agreement is in place.

Agreements bring certainty with respect to a First Nation’s rights to use, own and manage lands and resources throughout its claimed traditional territory, as well as provide the treaty First Nation with modern governance tools to develop sustainable, healthy and resilient communities. When ownership and use of lands and resources is clear, there is increased predictability for continued development and growth in the entire region. An Agreement In Principle is the next step, followed by a consultation phase.  Once the Agreement in Principle is established, a Final Agreement is the next step.  The Final Agreement will provide certainty to Akaitcho Dene First Nations, as well as to Yellowknife residents and business owners who often seek land for business opportunities for future development of the city.  While the City is not a negotiation partner, we are committed to work together with the YKDFN and the Akaitcho throughout the process to ensure all parties interests’ are considered when discussing land in and around Yellowknife.

How do negotiations work?

Concluding and Implementing Land Claim and Self-Government Agreements is pivotal to the wellbeing of Indigenous interests, businesses and citizens, and the interests of all Canadians.  The Akaitcho Interim Land Withdrawal is a historic and important part of the process. Reconciliation requires government to listen and respond to the particular priorities of specific First Nations, government agencies and the business community. A broad range of agreement types contribute to achieving reconciliation and creating economic opportunities for First Nations. A fundamental goal of an agreement is to achieve certainty and facilitate strong and workable relationships between First Nations and other governments including federal, territorial and local governments.

 Important Dates

  • July 25, 2000 - Framework Agreement signed in Deninu K'ue (Fort Resolution)
  • June 2001 - Interim Measures Agreement
  • Next step - An Agreement In Principle

Proposed change to the Yellowknife Community Boundary

The community boundary impacting the city of Yellowknife and the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) is one part of the AIP process. The YKDFN has identified that for the purposes of community growth and land development they are requesting that the community boundary between the City of Yellowknife and Dettah/Ndilo be adjusted. Currently Ndilo is within the Yellowknife community boundary, as well as other areas of importance to YKDFN. The City of Yellowknife has been working in partnership with YKDFN as well to support long term growth for YKDFN while concurrently projecting Yellowknife land needs..

The boundary between our two communities has been in place for a long time and requires a fresh look in order to meet the respective interests of both communities. The purpose of the boundary change is not to displace people but to respect and support the rights, interests and aspirations of both the YKDFN and the City of Yellowknife. 

Why haven’t people heard about the proposed changes to the Yellowknife community boundary before now?

The ADFN, the GNWT and Government of Canada have been in negotiations for many years; the Interim Measures Agreement was signed in 2001. As neighbours of the ADFN, the City began working with YKDFN in 2018 to ensure both parties interests were, and continue to be, considered when discussing land in and around Yellowknife, specifically with respect to the boundary. Due to the complexity of the issues being discussed, negotiations surrounding the boundary had to remain confidential.

What about Joliffe Island and the houseboats?

The City will work together with YKDFN through co-management to address and protect the interests of those affected by the proposed changes to the Yellowknife Community Boundary. Houseboaters are an important part of our community and the City will engage with houseboaters to address issues, collaborate on next steps and formulate an effective plan for moving forward.

What does this mean for Ndilo residents? How will they get services?

There will be no changes in services to Ndilo residents during negotiations. Moving forward, the City will work closely with YKDFN to support municipal services to Ndilo once any changes are made.

What are the next steps?

This is a long process and a lot of work goes in to these negotiations to ensure that the interests of both parties are considered and respected when discussing land in and around Yellowknife. The next step is to present to the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA). MACA will then undertake consultations as outlined in Section Thirty-five of the Constitution Act, 1982. 


Land Use Challenges - Map

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