How much of a mess is parking in Yellowknife’s Old Town?

Yellowknife’s Old Town needs a parking revamp, not least because emergency vehicles could find access tricky, city councillors are being told.

A report compiled in August last year will be discussed among councillors on Monday. The document argues that Old Town’s narrow streets need a more organized approach to parking.

Building on the report’s findings, city staff are recommending to council that parking spaces be created around the Woodyard brewpub and neighbouring business Hak’s. Currently, busy nights at the pub can create a free-for-all along neighbouring residential lanes. Privately, both Hak’s and the Woodyard will confess the relationship between the two regarding the parking situation has not always been cordial.


Work should proceed to turn the mostly empty lot at the intersection of Franklin and School Draw avenues into a parking lot, the city’s briefing document for councillors adds.

That work has been contemplated for years but the reconstruction of a lift station on the same lot has halted progress. Allowing for the lift station work to conclude, the city thinks 2026 is a reasonable timeline for a full, paved parking lot to be in place.

In the short term, the city’s briefing note calls for “parking permissible signage” to be installed this summer on Hamilton Drive, Bryson Drive, McDonald Drive and Wiley Road.

What exactly that signage would state, and how permissible that signage would be – to what extent will parking on those streets be prevented? – was not immediately clear. Councillors are likely to have questions at a Monday meeting from 12pm. (The packed meeting agenda also includes the question of whether to abandon Yellowknife’s sister cities.)

City staff also suggest more bike racks would be a good idea, but City Hall seems less keen on the report’s recommendation that residential parking permits be introduced. That concept doesn’t get much of a mention in the briefing note.


No fire hydrants

The city initially commissioned a two-pronged investigation of Old Town parking: an examination of whether emergency vehicles are being affected and a study of the impact of tourist traffic. The tourism study hasn’t happened yet because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The first study concluded, in the city’s words, that “emergency response times within Old Town can be negatively impacted as narrow streets are challenging to navigate in some locations when vehicles and tour buses are parked on the side of the street.”

“Firefighting operations are intensive in Old Town as without fire hydrants, water tanker trucks are required at the scene of the fire,” councillors are told.

“This results in numerous emergency vehicles required on location, including municipal enforcement vehicles and personnel to control the scene.

“Many streets in Old Town can become impassable for emergency vehicles when on‐street parking demand is high, particularly during peak season, larger events or festivals.”

The review of emergency vehicle access cost just under $18,000 to complete. City Hall estimates creating “formal parking” outside the Woodyard and on the School Draw lot will, combined, cost $150,000.