One of Yellowknife's most popular day-trip destinations may get a major facelift this summer.
The Hidden Lake/Cameron Falls trailhead and staging area is about 47 kilometres east of Yellowknife along the Ingraham Trail. It provides parking and an outhouse for day users intent on making the short hike into scenic Cameron Falls or further into the backcountry.
The N.W.T.'s department of Industry, Tourism and Investment is proposing to enlarge the parking area, build a bus turnaround, add a second outhouse and build an aurora viewing platform adjacent to a small nearby lake.
If the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board approves the project, work on the approximately $200,000 in improvements could begin this summer.
"The parks are a big attraction along the Ingraham Trail," said Kris Johnson, ITI regional superintendent for the North Slave region.
"We've done a lot of investments in them over the last several years because we've seen a substantial increase in their use."
Tracy Therrien, executive director of the Northern Frontier Visitors Centre, is enthusiastic about the prospect of improvements at the trailhead.
"Cameron Falls is one of our number one destinations and attractions to the city of Yellowknife," Therrien said. "It's huge to us, so any improvement in that area is going to be an asset to Yellowknife."
Therrien said the hike into Cameron Falls is one of the first things workers at the visitors centre recommend to tourists coming in looking for something to do in the Yellowknife area.
The improvements, she said, address concerns she's heard at the visitors centre regarding lack of washroom facilities along the Ingraham Trail in general, as well as challenges tour operators face when trying to turn a tour bus around safely in the existing parking lot.
Environmental approval needed
The Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board will review the project later this week, according to Shelagh Montgomery, a regulatory manager with the land and water board. She said a date for the final decision is not available at this time.
Johnson said if approval from the board is given, detailed plans would be drawn up and the project put out for tender.
"It's not a very big project," Johnson said. "We're hoping the bulk of the construction can be done within a week or so [of starting]."
Prosperous Lake boat launch will have to wait
Work at Hidden Lake is not the only project under consideration.
"I think, overall, we're investing $3.7 million in parks across the N.W.T.," Johnson said. "There's strategic investments across the territory."
One area not slated for improvement this summer is the Prosperous Lake parking area and boat launch that sees enough congestion in the summer to fill the parking lot leaving vehicles and boat trailers parked along the Ingraham Trail.
"During peak times there's quite a bit of traffic at Prosperous," Johnson said. "It's become very popular over the last few years."
She said improvements at Prosperous are on the radar and could be included in the budget for the 2018/19 construction season.