Pehdzeh Ki First Nation is conducting a series of projects with the goal of promoting Wrigley in Canada’s Northwest Territories as a tourist destination.
The band has four projects underway to improve the campgrounds and trails in the remote community located at the terminus of Highway 1. Work is ongoing at the Airport Lake Campground, the Wrigley Riverside Park, Hodgeson Creek Campground and the Smith Creek Falls Trail, according to the Northern News Services.
Most tourist don’t realize what Wrigley has to offer, said D’Arcy J. Moses, the acting senior administrative officer for the band.
“People say it’s a really tiny community but it’s in beautiful country,” he said.
The tourists who make it to the community are the ones that phone ahead to ask about Wrigley, said Moses. This year many of the tourists — who came from countries including Switzerland, France and Japan — said if they’d known what was available they would have stayed longer, he said.
The completion of the projects will allow the band to advertise and promote the community as a destination site, he said. The largest project is at the Airport Lake Campground.
The 16-site campground was built approximately 10 years ago but was allowed to lapse into a state of neglect, said Moses. Work started last year when the undergrowth around the site was slashed.
By this fall the sites will have new gravel, fire pits with grills and picnic tables. The campground will also have woodbins, a water source and outhouses.
This year the band received $25,000 from the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment for the project to which they added their own funds for a total budget of $40,000. One of the appealing aspects of the campground is Airport Lake, which is perfect for fishing, canoeing and swimming, said Moses.
Next year additional undergrowth slashing will be done so the lake can be seen from the highway as people drive into Wrigley, said Moses. The other two smaller campgrounds in the community are also being revived. The Wrigley Riverside Park consists of eight existing sites on a hillside overlooking the Mackenzie River. Slashing is being done so canoeists will be able to see their gear on the riverbank from the sites, said Moses.
He said last year a staircase was built to allow easy access from the river up to the community. The long-term plan is to construct a shower and laundry facility at the top of the hill. For now the band charges visitors $10 to use the facilities at the hotel.
Overlooking Hodgeson Creek, the third campground, is a “little gem of a site,” said Moses. Upgrades will include undergrowth slashing, new picnic tables and rebuilt outhouses. A fence will also be placed along the bank with all of the work expected to be done this year, he said.
The final project is a 1.5 km trail that leads to Smith Creek Falls, where the falls have formed two swimming holes. Northwest Territories Parks and Recreation funded the project with $40,000 over two years.