Is it just you, or does Yellowknife smell lately?

Niven Lake
Niven Lake appears in a file photo. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

Some people haven’t noticed it. Some people have been demanding we get answers. Does Yellowknife smell?

The ‘Niven Smell’ associated with anaerobic respiration at the former sewage lagoon is a known phenomenon – but this seems bigger.

Several residents wrote to Cabin Radio late on Thursday evening, saying the smell was unlike anything they had previously encountered.

One individual tweeted: “Alright, Cabin Radio, where is your Facebook article explaining why half of Yellowknife smells like sewage?



“I was inside Independent and I smelt it, and then all the way home. I can smell it in my house.”

Another responded: “Before, it used to be just by Niven. But now it’s everywhere.”

Yet not everyone can recall experiencing something similar.

Other residents polled by Cabin Radio had no recent memory of a lingering stink, and the City appeared nonplussed.



“To my knowledge, the City has not received any complaints about unusual smells,” a City of Yellowknife spokesperson replied by email when asked about the issue on Friday.

The City did, however, provide a list of possible culprits if you are experiencing olfactory distress:

  • Both the former sewage lagoon (Niven Lake) and the current one can give off an odour at certain times of year
  • The two trucked sewage dump stations, on School Draw Avenue and by the Multiplex, can give off a “strong but temporary” odour
  • The City has open construction trenches with sewage mains being worked on in the Frame Lake area
  • Fourteen sewage lift stations can give off a smell during annual maintenance and cleaning

Beyond that, the City is at a loss to explain any unusual smell you’re experiencing.

If the smell persists, we recommend showering. Just to be sure.