Go back

Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Post office purchase a silly idea

Any thought by city councillors of purchasing downtown's Canada Post office building is just so many sugar plums dancing in their heads.

The motion brought forward by Coun. Kevin O'Reilly, which instructs the mayor to "express an interest" in the building, is about as silly as the one passed last January condemning the U.S. missile defence plan.

There is nothing wrong with asking Canada Post representatives to meet with them, or requesting that the federal government re-evaluate the building's potential as a heritage site, but council would be in over its head if the city was to actually buy it.

Council members must spend less time worrying about situations out of their control, and more time tackling the issues they were elected for: paving roads, fixing sewers, and creating neighbourhoods, parks and trails.

That is council's mandate. Anything more is mere posturing and creating make-work projects for city staff.

Canada Post says it plans to renew a five-year lease next year with whomever buys the building. But here's a scenario council should consider: What if Canada Post chooses not to renew the lease after that? Purchasing the property offers no hard assurances that the post office will stay there in perpetuity.

We're sure most Yellowknifers want the main post office to stay downtown, but for City Hall to assume the position of landlord in an attempt to keep the service there is just plain ludicrous.

Sad lesson to see school posters down

Schools are all about creativity. The more that students find creative ways to do things - even if that's coming up with an answer to 12X4 or where the city of Hochelaga was - the smarter they'll be. Last week the students of Ecole J.H. Sissons school learned a lesson in creativity they hadn't counted on.

When the Yellowknife Fire Department told school staff to tear down wall posters, students learned that even in the midst of fun and beauty can lurk serious dangers.

The fire department is well within its rights to have the posters down. Strictly speaking, hanging any paper products on a wall could - and we emphasize "could" - be the kind of fire accelerant that burns a tragic chapter into the school's history that would indeed create a "teacher in tears." It's an unfortunate but necessary precaution to keep our schools safe. We are glad to see Sissons school is adapting.

We hope other Yellowknife schools take note and learn Sissons' lesson.

Rankin coach lands early Christmas gift

Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News

Wow! Talk about a super Christmas gift to a group of kids in the Kivalliq - this one is pretty high on the list.

Although it won't be announced until Dec. 22, Kivalliq News has learned the Rankin Inlet bantam hockey club has been picked as one of Wayne Gretzky's Future Team Canadas.

The program is a joint effort between the Wayne Gretzky Foundation and the Canadian Hockey Foundation.

Because they were selected as one of the winners, the Rankin bantams will be receiving a very special package sometime during the next three-to-four weeks.

The kids will receive a new supply of sticks, sweaters and gloves, including the two goalies who will each get a new trapper and blocker.

The squad also gets a $1,000 cheque to be used for team-development purposes.

The bantams will send a team photo into the foundation and it will appear in a nationally distributed publication.

So, who do the bantams have to thank for this wonderful Christmas gift?

That would be their coach and long-time volunteer Tommy Adams.

Adams took the time to fill out and submit a lengthy application when he found out about the national program a few months ago.

While Adams is to be highly commended for landing this windfall for the Rankin kids, he is far more than a bantam coach.

Adams has been a certified Level Two hockey official for a number of years and is also a board member of the Rankin Inlet Minor Hockey Association.

The easy going hockey nut is the perfect example of the type of volunteer we need more of in the Kivalliq.

While there is no shortage of folks who are quite willing to point out the weaknesses in our Northern hockey program, there are few willing to step up and put in the amount of time to improve the program as Adams does.

We're fortunate in that Adams is not alone.

You would be hard pressed to find an evening during the week Donald Clark is not at the local arena, while people such as Justin Merritt and Ron Roach have been involved with minor hockey at various levels for years.

The same can be said for Jim MacDonald, who decided to step away from the game for awhile this year after being known as Mr. Hockey in Rankin for more years than he probably cares to remember.

While we have a strong base in Rankin, we still have plenty of room for more people to get involved.

In fact, volunteering time to make your community a better place to live sounds like a pretty good new year's resolution to us.

The people we've listed above could certainly use your help, and hockey is but one program that would welcome you into the fold.

It's nice to end the year on such a positive note by sending our congratulations to Adams for getting his bantams included in the Wayne Gretzky Future Team Canada program.

If more volunteers offer their time in the coming year, we're sure we'd have even more good news to pass your way - something to think about during the holidays.

Pipeline gift or gambit?

Editorial Comment
Jason Unrau
Inuvik Drum

The National Energy Board visited Inuvik two weeks ago to fine-tune the schedule for the upcoming gas project hearings.

Prior to that meeting getting underway, one of the NEB panel members remarked that he and his two colleagues had previously been referred to as "the wise men," a kind of season-inspired nickname for them one supposes.

Considering the power vested in these individuals, perhaps "pipeline kings" would have been more appropriate. It gives a whole new meaning to the holiday ditty We Three Kings, doesn't it?

Despite rumblings in the south from Deh Cho leadership regarding the pipeline project's fate in terms of whether or not the Deh Cho will allow right-of-way access, what should be clear by now is that Deh Cho permission is not required for the project to proceed.

After the NEB panel has heard submissions from proponents and intervenors, and incorporated the Joint Review Panel's findings on socio-economic and environmental impacts into a final decision, it will submit its recommendation to federal cabinet for approval. In the NEB's 46-year history the government has never ruled against an NEB decision, so whatever the "'wise men" think, odds are it will be rubber-stamped in Ottawa.

What should also be clear is that leadership in the Beaufort-Delta wants a pipeline built. A quick look at the roster of businesses and joint ventures under the aboriginal corporate umbrella, not to mention statements of support from the Gwich'in and Inuvialuit brass throughout the uphill process, confirms this.

Communities along the pipeline corridor should be lobbying for cheap natural gas on demand. While environmentalists against the Mackenzie Gas Project are trying to convince the rest of us that gas molecules from the Beaufort are going to end up fueling tar sands refining in Alberta, the benefits for NWT residents of having access to perhaps a lifetime supply of clean-burning fuel should be a paramount demand made to those with the power to make it happen.

These are already here created by historical realities colliding with the increase of industry and commerce to the region in the last 40-odd years. In terms of simple economics, an increase in higher wage employees affects local inflation rates which has caused - and will continue to affect - the increase of prices, not to mention the inherently high cost of shipping anything to remote regions.

On top of all the other social concerns, the high cost of nutritious food is something that burdens us all.

At the very least, the territorial government should be looking at using its share of resource royalties (hopefully to increase with devolution/revenue deal with Ottawa) to subsidize the price of groceries. Fuel and food staples for Northern living are relevant issues that can be addressed and should be.

It was with regret I learned that in last week's Drum I got the name of the late Jake Heath wrong. In addition to several phone calls to inform the paper of the error, I received an e-mail admonishing me for the mistake.

In an attempt to rectify the situation, please see the reprinted obituary in the news briefs section on page three of this issue and to the family and friends of Jake, I am profoundly sorry for the error.

Radio-free Kakisa

Editorial Comment
Derek Neary
Deh Cho Drum

On the face of it, the handful of folks who live in Kakisa seem to be staring down a big bully in Industry Canada.

The federal bureaucrats are demanding that the tiny community hand over some cash for operating a radio station that emits classic country tunes and local announcements to its 40 residents.

It just makes you want to say, "Leave well enough alone!" It's not like Lloyd Chicot is aiming to become the next Howard Stern for goodness sakes.

The little broadcast centre in Kakisa has managed to operate for nearly two years without Industry Canada showing up with its hand out.

In the south, where the radio spectrum is quite crowded, having a licence is essential because there are only so many assigned frequencies to go around. It would be chaos if rebels started to hijack the air waves.

But in the North just try to get any hint of a signal on your vehicle's radio as you're driving vast distances from one community to another. Good luck!

Satellite radio, a new kid on the block, is the only sure bet. Otherwise some commercial stations may fade in and out while you're travelling late at night.

It seems ludicrous for Industry Canada to chase after little guys like the Ka'a'gee Tu First Nation on 89.7 FM, which can only be heard in the immediate vicinity of the community.

But we do live in an age of licensing things. Want to drive a truck or fly a plane? You must have a licence.

How about opening a business? Whether a huge operation or a one-person enterprise, it requires a licence.

Going hunting or fishing? Some of us require a permit for that period.

Licensing radio goes back to the early 20th century, Industry Canada's Rolf Ziemann said. It was even more onerous in the past when even receivers had to be authorized. Get this, at one time someone who owned a television had to have a permit to use it!

Kakisa's broadcast station is deemed private commercial radio by Industry Canada.

That puts them in the same category as the RCMP or many small businesses with delivery radios. They all have to pay a licence fee as well.

Making exceptions would only get the Canadian government into trouble. But how about a Deh Cho government?

That's right, there's a self-government process under way here.

If the people of this region feel strongly enough about not having to licence radio, then it should be one of the items negotiated with Ottawa.

Vive la radio!