Editorial page

Friday, August 8, 2003
Housing the homeless

Putting in a homeless shelter or youth offenders' facility in a residential community is never going to be a popular proposition to the residents who live there.

Then again, simply throwing one's arms up and trying to push them under someone else's rug won't work either.

If we intend to live up to the basic tenants of democratic society -- especially a compassionate one with all the corresponding safety nets we endeavour to provide -- then a cheap place for homeless people to live so they can get back on their feet again is a must.

It would be better if the homeless shelter proposed by the Salvation Army were located downtown and not on School Draw Avenue It would be closer to government service centres and bus stops. That is, if we were to presume that at least some of these people don't have jobs or cars.

Regardless, having a homeless shelter where these people can receive comfort, support, and guidance -- on School Draw or elsewhere -- is better than throwing them out on the street and hoping they don't turn into criminals.

Too many cabs? Says who?

It doesn't come as much of a surprise that two local cab companies are lobbying city hall to regulate the number of taxis on Yellowknife streets.

A local cab driver approached city council recently, armed with a petition signed by 56 drivers from City Cabs and Diamond Cabs, requesting they place restrictions on the number of taxis permitted on the road.

There are too many cabs for Yellowknife's population, they argued, making it difficult for drivers to make a decent living. Cabbies have been hit especially hard this summer, since Somba K'e Cabs hit the streets and hot weather is encouraging many Yellowknifers to walk.

Three out of four councillors said no way, free enterprise is not to be fooled with. And who could blame them?

If the city does limit the number of cabs on the road, how could it possibly be done fairly? We don't think it can.

If the taxi companies want to maintain and increase their clientele base, then they should do what every other business operator does -- aim to provide the best service in the city.

Make them want to come to you. Smile. Make conversation. Say 'thanks for your business' every once in a while.

Don't just sit there in silence. Be nice and Yellowknifers will remember you for it.

Community disease

Editorial Comment
Chris Puglia
Kivalliq News

There is one thing that will, without fail, undermine the integrity of a community, no matter how friendly or seemingly safe.

The disease that attacks the very core of our social fabric is crime.

It doesn't have to be violent, or even brutally destructive to leave a lasting mark. Its very presence corrodes the morale and health of a community.

In the last few weeks Rankin Inlet has been attacked night after night by a band of petty thieves.

Business after business have fallen prey to these hooligans who have no respect for the law and the people that they undoubtedly, during the day, call neighbours.

Even this office has not been spared these senseless acts.

At times, the thieves make off with cash, alcohol or other valuables. Other times they take nothing, leaving broken doors, cabinets and locks in their wake.

RCMP say that in the last couple of weeks there has been more break and enter crime in Rankin than there has been all year.

Stores have been forced to upgrade security, change locks and install cameras to defend themselves.

Sometimes even these new measures have failed.

Physically, as of yet, no one has been injured by these crimes.

But, the scars these criminals leave behind are far worse than any bruises.

They violate our sense of security, create fear and mistrust.

Already the police have captured six of the alleged culprits, but a few still remain.

These cowards, whether they be adults or youths, have no respect for the people of this friendly and trusting community.

The RCMP are doing everything they can to investigate these crimes, but they need the help of the community.

They need your eyes and your ears to ensure these criminals are brought to justice and answer for their crimes.

If you notice anything suspicious or hear of anyone that could be responsible, let the RCMP know.

Don't allow these people to attack the hamlet with their ignorant assaults on good, hard-working people that don't deserve to be burglarized.

Building up, tearing down

Editorial Comment
Terry Halifax
Inuvik Drum

The town has been abuzz with construction and demolition activity over the summer so far and it's great to see everyone hard at work to make this a better place.

The paving crew is in town and before too long we'll have a shiny and smooth new mainstreet.

The old hospital was demolished in a matter of days and it shows off the new building nicely.

The new family centre foundation is going in and right next door, the new Aurora College campus is being built.

Housing starts are popping up all over in the new and old subdivisions and roads are being pushed through for more.

It's exciting to live in a town with so much growth taking place, but it's important to temper that growth with planning.

Last week council approved the rezoning of two lots on Tununuk Place that will likely become another apartment building and an office complex.

This is an area that already has three large multi-family dwellings, but no space for those families to recreate.

The two lots would have made an ideal park area or just a green space, where people living there could take lunch outside while their kids played on the swings.

The area represented the last green space in the downtown core, which might not seem that important right now, but what about in 10 or 20 years?

People need space to go for a walk without the sounds of motors revving and tires squealing.

A lunchtime break outside of the sterile office environment, where the birds chirp and the wind blows through the willows, is a mental vacation in the middle of a hectic day for most people.

The new buildings will ring up another land sale in the town's till and generate new tax dollars for years to come, but the quality of life for those residents will be little more than a prison sentence.

Responsible planning and zoning goes beyond selling and taxing; it's about building a community where people can live life and enjoy, rather than just live.

For too long, this town has been a place controlled by outside influences who only needed space to warehouse their people long enough to get the job done and they were gone.

Life is not like that here now. This is a thriving and vital community that deserves a long-term vision that will provide a sustained and happy life for people who call this place home.

All bottled up

Editorial Comment
Derek Neary
Deh Cho Drum

Whether there should be a licensed alcohol outlet in Fort Liard is bound to be a contentious issue -- that is if there is ever any formal debate on the matter.

Where does the majority of the community stand? That hasn't been determined.

There is a problem with bootlegging, that much has been established. Fort Liard is certainly not alone in facing that menace.

Would the community be better off with a liquor store? Would it reduce bootlegging or would it be opening Pandora's box?

Should there be a limit on how much alcohol any individual could purchase? How about a licensed establishment that serves drinks but doesn't sell bottles or cans? There are several options, but do enough residents want to examine them?

There are obviously more questions than answers at this point.

Why Yellowknife?

After Herb Dhaliwal's dissertation on how the NWT must benefit from a Mackenzie Valley pipeline, Fort Simpson resident Peter Shaw had only one question: Why did the federal government locate its pipeline readiness office in Yellowknife, so far away from the action? Fort Simpson would have been a more logical choice.

Dhaliwal didn't have an explanation at the ready. He said the federal government will seek ways to have its resources spread around NWT centres as much as possible.

It was a good question. Way to keep the minister on his toes, Mr. Shaw.

Southern bonds

It's fascinating to learn of individuals from southern Canada and the northern United States who are captivated by the North.

In regards to the Giles sisters and Norm Kagan (their stories are found in this edition), they aren't just everyday tourists passing through to take a look at the breath-taking scenery.

In the early 1990s, Kagan went out of his way to ensure Albert Faille had a proper headstone. While visiting last week, local historian Stephen Rowan informed him that the grave site had grown unkempt. Kagan didn't hesitate to spruce up the area.

Then there are the Giles sisters, who are pursuing higher learning. Through their seasonal experience in the North since 1998, they could be in line for an honourary degree in Northern living. In addition to being volunteers, they spearheaded a program that sends used sports equipment to Northern communities which could really benefit from it.

There are numerous Northerners who regularly devote their time to make the NWT a better place in which to live. It's nice to know that there are some Southerners who, although they don't reside here year-round, also strive to improve the quality of life."