Out of city's hands
MACA minister to determine fate of Niven Lake
Yellowknife ( May 12/00) - Whether ratepayers will have a say in the city's current plans for Niven Lake is a decision that now sits on the territorial government's shoulders.
Yellowknife city council unanimously voted to pass a bylaw Monday, authorizing the city to buy out the Niven Lake subdivision partners for $3.1 million.
Councillors David McCann and Ben McDonald were absent. Both were representing the city at a Federation of Canadian Municipalities initiative in Fort St. John, B.C.
Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs Jim Antoine will now bring the issue to cabinet where it will be decided whether ratepayer approval will be waived or not.
"The reason this doesn't go to ratepayers is because these are called self-financing debentures and it doesn't affect the tax base," said Mayor Lovell after Monday's meeting.
The city is projecting the multi-million dollar loan to be repaid by 2005 and the subdivision to be full by 2011.
Lovell said if the sale of the lots does not pay off the debt in five years, it will be paid for with the city's land development fund. That fund is currently facing a deficit of just over $1.1 million.
To date, a dozen of the 25 lots in Phase 1 of the subdivision have been sold at an average cost of $75,000. Of that number, three were sold on Tuesday of this week.
Phase 2 of the subdivision has 18 lots and the entire development consists of 350 lots.
"I do not like, in fact, I very much dislike being in land development," said Lovell.
The problem is, he said, if the city doesn't take on land development initiatives, nobody will.
"As a municipal government we have to ensure to develop the land available ... we've just got to try to make the best deal we can.
"If Yellowknife booms we'll all be heroes and if Yellowknife bombs we'll all be dogs," said Lovell.
There was no debate when the bylaw was passed Monday night.
However, Coun. David McCann, who could not attend Monday's meeting, believes the ratepayers should be consulted.
Three million dollars is a big chunk of change as far as McCann is concerned. He believes when that kind of money is involved the ratepayers and residents of Yellowknife should be heard.
"My view is if things went badly and the land did not sell ... ultimately the money has to be paid by somebody and that means we're talking the residents and taxpayers.
"I would like to think that they would have a chance to at least review the story," said McCann.
Nevertheless, the issue is now in the hands of Minister Antoine.
City treasurer Glen Jarbeau expects it will be a few months before the borrowing bylaw is approved by Antoine.