City hopes to help Con employees

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jan 14/98) - Former Miramar Con mine employees were assured Monday night the city will try to help them stay put.

"Our families are firmly established in Yellowknife and we want to stay where we are," said Evelyn Dutka, a member of a delegation of former mine employees who showed up at the regular meeting of council.

Her husband, Kirk, was a shift boss at the mine until being laid off, along with 120 other employees, shortly after Christmas.

Dutka said residents have three options -- sell their trailers to remaining mine employees, move their trailers off the Con land or purchase the lots.

The mine has given residents until June 1 to decide what to do. Dutka told council Miramar agreed to extend that deadline if it appears a deal with the city is imminent.

She said most are hoping the city will work a deal with Miramar Con and the territorial government to help residents to purchase their lots.

But she warned that the laid-off workers will not be able to afford to pay the $75,000 the city estimates each property is worth.

"Some people have paid $90,000 and up for their trailers," said Dutka. "We can't afford to pay another $75,000. That would put them way above market value."

Asked about the $75,000 figure, city administrator Doug Lagore said, "That was the very high end lots were estimated at." Lagore said options for the property include selling lots to trailer owners, renting lots or establishing a condominium arrangement.

Lagore corrected Dutka's assertion that the city was slated to negotiate with Con executives yesterday, saying it was called for discussion, not negotiation.

The trailer court properties are now being leased by Miramar from the territorial government.

Dutka asked council to focus on long-term gain rather than short-term loss, noting the city stands to gain large tracts of land for development and avoid a decrease in its tax base.

Behind closed doors

City council was briefed Monday on the impact of mine layoffs by administration.

At the committee of the whole meeting, aldermen Bob Brooks and Kevin O'Reilly said they saw no reason why discussion of the layoffs should take place in camera.

City administrator Doug Lagore explained, "If it's an open meeting I'll have nothing to report. All of the discussions I've had so far have been confidential, and I'm not prepared to breach that confidence."

The explanation changed the minds of both aldermen.

Council voted unanimously to go in camera to discuss that matter, as well as applications the city is considering for openings on the development appeals board.