NWT aviators airlift more than a ton of garbage from lake

Last modified: July 21, 2022 at 9:39pm

More than a ton of garbage from a camping destination outside Yellowknife has been removed by a group of NWT aviation enthusiasts.

The Northwest Territories Flying Association says it removed some 1,200 kg of litter and other debris from Lower Pensive Lake, which has no all-season road access but is frequented by canoe campers.

The association says it began garbage flights from remote sites in 2019, starting with Fishing Lake, and has since compiled a list of sites thought to need attention. The list includes Pensive Lake, Beniah Lake, Lauder Lake, River Lake and Jennejohn Lake.


Removing garbage from at least one site per year is the group’s goal. The Lower Pensive Lake clean-up took place on July 16.

“We’re doing this because it does make a difference to the site,” said Cynthia Levy, the association’s secretary.

“Pensive Lake is a beautiful location. It has a gorgeous beach with a beautiful sandy esker, but was a terrible mess. Now it’s very attractive and nice, and is a great place for people – not just airplanes, but paddling routes as well.

“We’re mostly keen on doing what the general community has the ability to access. So, remote, but not only accessible by floatplane.”

The clean-up took place with the help of funding from Unsmoke Canada Cleanups – a combination of Unsmoke Canada and The Great Outdoors Fund – and a Twin Otter floatplane contributed by Air Tindi.


Levy said the scope of the Pensive Lake project was massive and required the extra funding and help, whereas smaller projects like the one at Fishing Lake can be handled by members’ private aircraft.

Assisting the project were seven volunteers from the NWT Flying Association and Civil Air Search and Rescue Association. Together with three planes, the crew spent about five hours at the location to gather litter and debris that had accumulated over years of recreational use and load it onto the aircraft.

“With the site now cleaned up, the beach and surrounding esker are once again an ideal destination for day trips and camping,” wrote Kevin Brezinski, president of the flying association, in an email.

The association says it is open to suggestions for more sites to clean and hopes to find more funding for further large-scale projects.