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Legislative Briefs
Gas prices steam Lee

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services
Friday, May 18, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - Finance Minister Floyd Roland's department will review gas prices in Yellowknife after fuel pump prices jumped to $1.29 per litre earlier this week from $1.19.

The review comes after persistent questioning from Range Lake MLA Sandy Lee.

"If someone is selling the same product, they didn't bake it fresh that day, it's the same stock and the price goes up," said Lee.

"We are cut off from the rest of the world because we have no bridge. They're using the same stuff and the price went up."

While Roland agreed to look at the price fluctuations, he noted there was little the government could do.

"First and foremost, we have to make it clear that within the Department of Finance we have no control over what the industry does in this area," he said.

Call waiting on 9-1-1

Kam Lake MLA Dave Ramsay wants the government to put its money where its mouth is on giving NWT residents a 9-1-1 emergency service.

"Six years ago the chief coroner recommended (Municipal and Community Affairs) work with the RCMP and the City of Yellowknife to establish a 911 service," he said. "What has happened? Why aren't we at the stage where we can start moving 911 outside of Yellowknife? Instead we are standing here today questioning why there isn't even a 911 service in Yellowknife."

Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Michael McLeod said while his department has looked at the issue, "The biggest barrier for going forward right now is the lack of communication infrastructure in our communitiesÖ following that is the cost of implementing such a service."

McLeod said the cost of starting a territory-wide 9-1-1 service was in the neighbourhood of $26 million.

Building bridges?

Kam Lake MLA Dave Ramsay continued this week to press cabinet for answers on the government's commitment to build a bridge across the Mackenzie River and details on how it would finance the project without federal government support.

"I would hazard to guess that it will be in excess of $6 (a tonne)," said Ramsay of the tolls laid out in the Deh Cho Bridge Corporation Act. "I mean it doesn't take a mathematician to figure out thatÖ with the project in excess of $130 million the tolls are obviously going to have to be over $6."

Ramsay demanded a full briefing on the project from cabinet and went on to deride the government's stance that federal financing was not necessary, calling the position 'foolhardy.' Last year, Premier Joe Handley said Ottawa would have to pony up $50 million for the project to be financially viable.