Giant Mine Remediation
All land and water surrounding Giant Mine is slated for full remediation by the federal government, in partnership with the territorial government and other stakeholders. This Giant Mine Remediation Project includes treating a portion of the land occupied by GSSC and all waters in the immediate area. Once started, the Project will require the Club to move its assets out of the remediation area, the boundary of which runs halfway through the Club’s leased property. The project could start as early as 2023.
The Club is cooperating with all levels of government and other stakeholders to help ensure boaters have continued access to Great Slave Lake from Back Bay, and to secure the Club’s re-occupancy of its current property following remediation.
Current Understanding [2023-04-18]
As of November 2022, our understanding is as follows:
- GSSC signed a 14-year lease with GNWT Lands that includes specific eviction clauses for remediation.
- The Giant Mine Remediation Project (GMRP) has scheduled work to begin no sooner than 2028, requiring GSSC to vacate the premises by Lift-Out 2027.
- Work at the Club property and surrounding area is scheduled to be completed within two years, and includes the building of a new boat launch and rebuilding of the Club's wharf. The town site boat launch will remain accessible by the public during this time.
- Once work is completed at the Club property, it will be used as a "shared" boat launch for GSSC and all public boaters until work at and around the town site boat launch is completed, currently expected to take up to eight years (to 2038).
- Once work is completed at the town site boat launch, the Club property will be returned to GSSC for exclusive use.
- [NEW] Water remediation may now require that moorings surrounding the Baker Creek inflow, and possibly extending through the North half of the mooring field, be relocated or removed entirely.
GMRP has clarified its objective is to remediate the Club property immediately and timely in order to open it as the access point for GSSC and public boaters, but direction and detail on how the space will be shared remains unclear. Actual usage, designated areas/divisions and Club storage, security and safe usage of land and water spaces (ie, for sailing school, dock repairs, dinghy transport) have been deferred to GNWT Lands.
The Club's Board and members previously anticipated 1-2 years of significant interruption and possible "season skipping" as a worst-case scenario, and the proposed 10-year schedule had not been discussed or considered before November. The Board will continue to explore options and resolve concerns with GMRP (CIRNAC and GNWT Lands), as the current plan poses significant challenges to the operation of the Club and its programs and to members' ability to access Back Bay, including larger boats requiring shoreline storage.
The Board will also continue its proactive discussions with other stakeholders, such as the Sambaa K'e Paddling Club, the Yellowknife Heritage Society, the Great Slave Yacht Club, the Coast Guard Auxiliary and other boaters and representatives.
As of March 2021, our understanding was as follows:
- The Giant Mine Remediation Project (GMRP) has scheduled work to begin as early as Summer 2023, which will require GSSC to vacate the premises by Lift-Out 2022. GMRP and GSSC are finding a suitable adjacent storage area for boats and club assets.
- The City of Yellowknife has surrendered its relevant land leases to the GNWT, and the Club is now reviewing a lease agreement with GNWT Lands to extend the current/expired lease for 14 years, subject to remediation. The Club remains an "overholding tenant" until a new lease is signed.
- All governments have indicated interest in the Club remaining at its current location following remediation, and the Project has promised to return the property and immovable assets (ie, the wharf) in as-good or better condition.
- Remediation of the immediate area is expected to take 10-12 years, wherein GMRP will alternate its work between the Club property and the Town Site boat launch. Work at the Club site is expected to occur in two stages, each taking 1-2 years to complete.
- While the Club property is remediated, all boats (Club and public) will have access to Back Bay from the Town Site boat launch.
- While the Town Site boat launch is remediated, the public will have access to Back Bay from the Club property.
- To facilitate uninterrupted access to Back Bay, GMRP has committed to constructing a permanent boat launch on the Club's premises, which will then be part of the Club's infrastructure following remediation.
In December 2019, all governments (project leaders) expressed a desire to see the Club return to its property following remediation. City administrators also suggested that a more long-term arrangement for Club tenancy could be possible. The City also noted that their continued search for access points to Great Slave Lake (eg, Con Mine) is to maximize access and not to replace existing access points.
The Club has existed at its current Back Bay site since it was incorporated in 1987.
Remediation of Giant Mine became a real prospect in 2007, when the federal government submitted plans for approval by the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board. In 2014, the City of Yellowknife completed an Environmental Assessment of the project, and the project garnered public attention. Since 2014 (and earlier), the Club had anticipated that the remediation project would interrupt boat access and storage at its property and it has been an invited stakeholder in remediation talks.
Starting in 2018, the Club's pervue of the Project's plans and intentions was limited, and frustrations about the Club's uncertain future increased. Limited information provided to the Club insinuated that the project – beginning as early as 2021 – would effectively close water access at the Club and the public dock for up to 10 years. It was also understood that the City and other parties were seeking a “residential” standard of remediation, which perpetuated rumours that the current Club property could be rezoned for private/residential use. Throughout the 2019 boating season, limited communication with the Project continued and members began to understand that the Club's survivial through remediation was questionable and that members may be unable to launch and use their boats for up to 10 years and may lose their investments entirely.
In September 2019, lines of communications between governments and stakeholders were rejuvenated, and consultations with the Club helped to alleviate fears and dispel rumours regarding the future of the Club and the public boat launch. As of December 2019, the Club understands that uninterrupted public access to Back Bay is a priority for all levels of government, that all governments are interested in the Club continuing indefinitely at its current location, and that the impact of remediation to the Club will be significantly less than feared earlier in the year.
Parties & Stakeholders
|Giant Mine Oversight Board
|Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
Deputy Director, Giant Mine Public Forum
|Environmental & Natural Resources (GNWT)
Senior Advisor, Giant Mine
|Department of Lands (GNWT)
Manager, Commissioner's Land
|City of Yellowknife
Senior Administrative Officer
|Yellowknives Dene First Nation
|Great Slave Sailing Club
Chair, Remediation Committee
|Great Slave Yacht Club
|Yellowknife Historical Society
The Board will continue updating members by email and this webpage as the remediation project develops.