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Tough decisions

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services
Friday, June 8, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - He withstood the April "public meeting" onslaught of Folk on the Rocks' anger at government plans for an RV park beside their festival site, and now Phil Lee of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) has brought in a Yellowknife PR firm to deflect the next potential storm.

"I couldn't comment on (ITI's) motivation," said Leanne Tait of Tait Communications after her company was hired to host ITI's June 12 public forum on the proposed $1 million project. "They've asked us to facilitate the function."

In April, Lee was centre of a storm of controversy for society members outraged that ITI was stockpiling 180 tonnes of smashed glass to be used as fill for the RV park and moving ahead with the project against society wishes.

"This isn't public consultation," Glen Abernethy, society president, said at the April meeting. "This is you telling us what you're going to do."

At times it was difficult for Lee, regional superintendent for ITI, to get a word in as society members shouted him down, disputing ITI claims the site was the best location and that it would attract much-needed tourism dollars.

Lee told the meeting that he wants input from the community and agreed to the upcoming forum, but it's unlikely the event will sway FOTR - despite ITI's offer to fund a capital plan for the festival and a business plan to explore the viability of the festival running the RV park. Following the meeting, ITI removed the glass from the site, but has not thrown in the towel on its plans for the 36-stall RV park.