Wednesday, May 31, 2000
The debate over city funding for renovations to the Wildcat Cafe in Old Town, run by the Old Stope Association, is most remarkable for the fact it happened.
The arena debate was lively but too often huge issues go by council -- the $3 million Niven Lake buy-out being the most recent -- without a peep of dissent or differing opinions.
Councillors sometimes seem so overwhelmed by the seriousness of their decisions, they accept what city administration tells them as gospel without using their own common sense to look for better alternatives.
But the question of giving money to a non-profit heritage group brought out some interesting differences.
Mayor Lovell and Coun. Cheryl Best stood up for other businesses in the area competing for the same customers as the Wildcat. Should these other businesses get city funding? Best went so far as to suggest shutting the Wildcat down if it can't operate without public money.
Then we have Coun. Bob Brooks who believes the Wildcat provides a valuable service for the whole city, attracting tourists, visiting family and Yellowknifers alike, "a city asset" he called it. Councillors O'Reilly, Slaven, MacDonald and Lyons agreed with Brooks.
Coun. McCann put forth a motion, unsuccessfully, that operation of the Wildcat Cafe be put up for bids when the present city lease expires, to give other businesses and non-profit groups a chance.
The two different views on council are both legitimate -- other businesses must be taken into account when spending city money while heritage sites in this town are as precious as the gold that built it.
In the end the Wildcat Cafe got the funds and we agree with the decision. But the Old Stope Association, who are heritage volunteers, and city administration, now informed about what council thinks, should discuss how preserving the Wildcat Cafe can best be done without compromising the budding Old Town economy.
You live on one of the biggest lakes in the world and there's, get this, one boat launch in the city.
What do you do? Build a new boat launch, of course.
For a $25,000 investment the city could get a new launch that should take the pressure off the Old Town launch and improve boaters' access to Great Slave Lake.
We expect some people might question the wisdom of building it at the former Giant mine townsite because of its distance from town. Factor in the time spent waiting to launch, park and pick up your boat in Old Town, and the few minutes spent on the road don't seem so long after all.
Let's all hope that the city's plans to get it built by the end of June come through.
We couldn't agree more with the recent honour bestowed upon Bob Engle.
In April Engle was named a pioneer in Canadian Aviation by the Western Canada Aviation Museum in Winnipeg.
Engle, who first toured the Arctic in 1955, was instrumental in bringing scheduled airline service to the North. He established NWT Air with a de Havilland Otter in 1962 and, after building his fleet to include a DC-3 the following year, he went on to offer the airline's first scheduled flight service in 1968.
Engle, who also received the Order of Canada in 1989 for dramatically reducing isolation in the North through aviation, is living proof that a little ingenuity can go a long way.
It is good to see our Department of National Defence actively promoting outfits such as the Skyhawks.
All too often here in Canada, the picture painted of our Armed Forces is one of intoxicated individuals forcing insane hazing rituals on new members before heading out to patrol our borders with obsolete equipment.
The Skyhawks' visit to our region should go a long way in helping local cadet leaders show our youth the positive side of the Armed Forces.
Also known for their drug awareness work with the RCMP, members of the Skyhawks plan to spend a good deal of time in contact with our local youth during their brief stay in Rankin Inlet.
The positive message and role-model status these members will deliver to our youth is worth its weight in gold at a time when too many media outlets focus on the negative aspects of our society.
This is especially true in the Kivalliq Region, where youth are so susceptible to what they see and hear and how those images shape their perception of the future.
Yes, we have substance-abuse and teenage pregnancy problems in some of our communities.
However, we also have a number of dedicated, hard-working people who are trying to increase education and awareness to battle these problems.
In many ways the Skyhawks mirror our Kivalliq situation.
Yes, there are problems in the Canadian Armed Forces, but there are also many skilled and dedicated individuals working hard to make a difference.
It is often all to easy to ignore the good and focus on the sensational.
Intoxicated NHL goaltenders throwing punches at hotel security members get the headlines, not the NHL goalie visiting sick children's hospitals.
Some media choose to write more about the teenagers who fall victim to the temptations of youth, rather than those struggling to overcome the challenges.
Still others would have you believe our Armed Forces are predominately a group of idle buffoons, rather than focus on the professional, caring group who will visit our region this coming weekend.
Our local leaders, whether they are involved in the field of sports, education, cadets or health, would greatly benefit by having more positive role models visit our youth.
Whether on the grand scale of the Skyhawks, or more to the grassroots level of Rankin's Tootoo brothers visiting local schools, we need to hear that positive voice get louder.
To hear someone say there are no limits to what a person can accomplish are often just words to our youth that are quickly forgotten.
But to see first-hand what can be accomplished is an experience with the power to change lives - the lives of our youth!