Ottawa agrees to help fund YK visitor centre in Centre Square Mall

Yellowknife's Centre Square Mall is pictured on the morning of Saturday, February 9, 2019
Yellowknife's Centre Square Mall is pictured on the morning of Saturday, February 9, 2019.

The federal government has agreed to contribute almost $400,000 toward the reopening of Yellowknife’s visitor centre, this time inside the city’s Centre Square Mall.

Yellowknife has been without a permanent visitor centre since the last one, parked on the side of Frame Lake, closed in 2017 over concerns about the structure’s stability. More recently, the municipality has operated a temporary substitute from the ground floor of City Hall.

In December last year, the city unveiled plans to open a new centre inside the Centre Square Mall, a southern-owned downtown mall that has long sat half-vacant amid a struggle to attract and retain retail businesses.

Despite its problems, the mall is in a downtown location likely to make a visitor centre easily accessible and visible to tourists once the tourism industry reopens post-pandemic.



On Friday, the federal government said it would contribute $377,587 toward a two-year project to create a visitor centre at that location. (The precise location within the mall isn’t yet known, and the city has yet to issue a request for proposals for someone to operate it.)

The territorial government will add $161,000 and the city will use $125,000 from a fund for downtown revitalization.

“Our message to the tourism sector and those who depend on it is clear: we’re here for you and we’re working with you to build and sustain tourism, and help the sector come back strong,” said Mélanie Joly, the federal economic development minister, in a statement.

“We are here to help Yellowknife and all communities in NWT prepare to welcome back visitors when it is safe to do so.”

Rebecca Alty, Yellowknife’s mayor, said she envisaged that a “new, multi-functional space will welcome tourists back to the region, showcase local non-commercial artwork, and act as an accessible, community hub for businesses and the public.”

The federal funding is earmarked for some of the design and engineering costs and part of the renovation work.