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Mayor vows Arctic Games are Yk bound

Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 26/05) - The city's bid to host the 2008 Arctic Winter Games is on track, according to Mayor Gord Van Tighem.

The mayor delivered his annual state of the city address to a Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Friday when he turned his attention to a column written by Yellowknifer sports editor Chris Puglia.

Mayor Gord Van Tighem tells businesspeople that Yellowknife's future looks bright. - Mike W. Bryant/NNSL photo

Puglia wrote that the city's bid for the Games "lacks spirit."

Van Tighem said that's not the case at all, vowing that the Games will be held in Yellowknife come 2008.

"You'll be hearing a lot more in the next month," he promised.

Overall, Van Tighem's state of the city address painted a rosy picture with few disappointments.

On average, residents are now staying for five years instead of two, the average income is still higher than the national rate, and rental vacancies have risen to three per cent, said Van Tighem.

The creation of an events and conventions bureau -- a joint effort between the city and several other groups -- only promises more good fortunes to come, the mayor said.

"Bringing together nature, culture and business will turn Yellowknife into one of Canada's most unique convention destinations," he said, pointing to the record attendance at last fall's Geoscience forum.

Van Tighem also told his audience of mostly business owners that Yellowknife is on the "federal radar screen" like never before.

"Ethel (Blondin-Andrew, Western Arctic MP) has brought a train of cabinet ministers here, some of them with cheques," said Van Tighem.

"And Rick Mercer was here twice."

He also vowed to work more closely with the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce over the next year.

For the last two years, the chamber complained about the lack of time between when the draft budget is presented to the public and when the document is passed. Last December, discussion barely lasted a couple of weeks before the budget was approved.

"Over the next year, we'll be working with the chamber so they can see the process along the way," said Van Tighem.

Chamber president Steve Meister said he was pleased by the mayor's "positive outlook," particularly with his commitment to a convention bureau and working more closely with the business community on next year's budget.

"We'll definitely be on board," said Meister.