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City of Yellowknife Zoning By-law Review

The Zoning By-Law review is an important opportunity for Council to create a more attractive business environment in Yellowknife and support economic development. Businesses need clarity on what activities are permitted throughout the city, flexibility to make use of already available spaces, and removal of regulatory barriers that hold back much needed investment.

We believe these objectives are being achieved in the draft Zoning By-law, and we’re pleased to share our support along with recommendations to further strengthen the final document.

Overall, we’d like to express our support for densification efforts and changes that support commercial development in the downtown core. Permitting 100% lot coverage with no setbacks and requiring principal buildings to have at least two storeys, are examples of small but effective changes.

It’s also important for there to be cohesive areas for businesses to thrive outside of the downtown core. We support Kam Lake South One’s purpose to “provide land for Development of Commercial Recreation, Dog Lots (Yellowknife Kennels) and Urban Agriculture operations Uses with accessory residential Use” (p.147), however, we are concerned with the purpose of Kam Lake South Two, “to provide land dedicated for Natural Resource Extraction, Commercial Recreation and Urban Agricultural activities” (p.150). Kam Lake South has the potential to become a commercial and tourism hub, but uncertainty and fear of being located near natural resources extraction or heavy industrial work will deter business investment. We recommend that Council remove natural resource extraction as a permitted use and remove industrial / heavy or similar use as a discretionary use and consider more compatible uses for this area.

Overall, we are concerned about the lack of new areas zoned for commercial use. We’ve heard from our membership that limited access to suitable land has slowed down or prohibited business growth, and we’re concerned that the lack of available space may be a barrier for new business investment. We understand that the City of Yellowknife intends to make additional commercial lots available by expanding Kam Lake and developing the area behind Canadian Tire / Home Hardware, however, those areas are currently zoned Growth Management. We recommend that the City of Yellowknife zone those areas for commercial development, which will provide greater certainty for businesses looking to invest in Yellowknife.


We fully support densification efforts throughout the City of Yellowknife but recommend that Council also plan for more greenfield development to help address the huge demand for vacant land.

To that end, we recommend that Council:

  • Review centrally located land and consider whether commercial development may be appropriate. For example, the land west of the Tommy Forrest Ballpark and Reservoir Road Pump 3 is zoned Nature Preservation (p.160) but is located in an ideal area for commercial development;
  • Consider whether mixed commercial and residential development could be suitable for Public Service (p.156) zones, where commercial entertainment, commercial recreation and hotels are permitted discretionary uses;
  • Expand the DT – Downtown zone across 54th Street and 52nd Avenue to create additional opportunities for mixed retail and residential development. These higher traffic streets are ideal locations for commercial activity;
  • Prioritize brownfield site remediation throughout the downtown core. Making use of these spaces and creating a vibrant downtown is important to attract business investment.
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