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Aviators and volunteers remove tons of waste from North Arm trailhead

Debris is cleaned up at the North Arm trailhead site. Photo: Northwest Territories Flying Association
Debris is cleaned up at the North Arm trailhead site. Photo: Northwest Territories Flying Association


The Northwest Territories Flying Association says its volunteers have removed several tons of waste that had built up at a trailhead near Boundary Creek along Highway 3.

Some 3,400 kg of waste was hauled away from an area chosen because it’s an access point for snowmobilers, mushers, and backcountry skiers to reach Great Slave Lake’s North Arm.

“Over the years, the location had become an illegal dumping area,” said Kevin Brezinski, the flying association’s president, by email.

“Through the collective effort of volunteers, the site is once again an attractive and safe trailhead providing access to wilderness recreation along the North Arm.”



The association partnered with the NWT’s departments of Environment and Climate Change and Infrastructure, along with the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association, City of Yellowknife and Unsmoke Canada to conduct the cleanup on October 21.

Volunteers at the cleanup location. Photo: Northwest Territories Flying Association
Volunteers load waste into pick-up trucks. Photo: Northwest Territories Flying Association
The location after the work was finished. Photo: Northwest Territories Flying Association

The work took around six hours to complete and involved two trucks hauling debris back to Yellowknife’s solid waste facility and recycling depot.

“The real hard work was gathering everything and putting it in a big pile,” Brezinski said, adding that the city waived disposal fees for the items involved. For example, roughly 50 tires were picked up at the cleanup site.

Eleven volunteers and two private businesses took part. Precision North Recycling took two trailers of metal debris to be recycled, while J&M Services arranged for equipment like a truck and trailer.



The North Arm Trailhead as seen on Google Earth.

The work was funded by Unsmoke Canada Cleanups – a partnership between The Great Outdoors Fund and Unsmoke Canada, an initiative devised by cigarette manufacturer Rothmans, Benson & Hedges. The same grant supported last year’s airlifting of 1,200 kg of waste from Lower Pensive Lake, to the northeast of Yellowknife.

The North Arm trailhead is the third such project the non-profit has organized. The first involved another lake, Fishing Lake, in 2019.

Brezinski said remaining Unsmoke Canada Cleanups funding will go toward future safety training for anyone interested in aviation.

In the past, the group has brought in safety experts from the south to deliver seminars focused on the likes of search and rescue or safe flying practices.

“Training for the general aviation community in the North doesn’t come without a cost, given our remoteness and the absence of location training opportunities,” Brezinski said.

The association hopes to keep performing one major cleanup each year.

“Our members love it. They get a lot of self-satisfaction out of it. They feel good about it,” Brezinski said.