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Legislative Assembly briefs
Leaky tank awareness
Northern News Services
Published Friday, November 6, 2009
Abernethy said home oil spills have doubled in the last two years, from 20 reported spills in 2007 to 43 already reported this year. Homeowners are required to cover the cost of the cleanup, as insurance does not.
"As a result, homeowners are on the hook for the costs of cleaning up their land," said Abernethy, adding he knew of one cleanup in Yellowknife that will cost $60,000. "The cost for cleaning up even the smallest of leaks is generally around $10,000. Where the cost of living is already high, this can be a bill that pushes homeowners past their financial brink."
Abernethy said single-walled tanks are the cause of most of the leaks, particularly Tidy Tanks, a brand pegged by tank installers as problematic.
Michael Miltenberger, minister of Environment and Natural Resources, said his department is working on a public service announcement campaign to make people more aware of the risks and potential ramifications of home heating oil tanks.
MLA wants animal cruelty act
Kam Lake MLA Dave Ramsay wants an Animal Cruelty Act in the NWT sooner than two years - the time government house leader Michael Miltenberger said it would take to complete.
"How many more times are we going to allow ourselves to be embarrassed both nationally and internationally with our archaic laws?" Ramsay said on Wednesday, pointing to the recent situation where several puppies were found with their throats slashed at the Behchoko dump.
"We need to advance this legislation as soon as possible so those who commit these heinous crimes against animals are faced with some serious consequences."
Miltenberger said the government is making amendments to the NWT Dog Act and the Department of Justice is doing preliminary work to get an Animal Cruelty Act put together, but said this will take some serious time. Ramsay said the Yukon Animal Rights Act could serve as a model to complete the process at a faster pace.
"We don't have to look that far and wide to find a piece of legislation, I think, that we could take a look at here in the Northwest Territories," Ramsay said.
Miltenberger said the government may look at other jurisdictions with the "Northern reality" in mind to fast-track the process.
Lower voter eligibility requirement: Bisaro
Changes to the NWT Elections Act are needed to increase voter turnout, said Frame Lake MLA Wendy Bisaro.
On Oct. 29, Bisaro said the act's 12-month residency requirement should be lowered to allow more people to be eligible to vote in municipal elections.
"Our eligibility requirement states that a voter must, and I quote, 'at least 12 consecutive months immediately preceding the day on which the person votes, have been a resident of the electoral district,'" Bisaro said. "In municipal elections, that electoral district is not the territory but the community. All Canadian provinces only require six months residency in the province, many with no residency restriction in the community at all."
Bisaro suggested the requirement be lowered to six months in the territory, with no restriction on how long someone has been in a community. Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Robert McLeod said the issue of voter eligibility will be addressed.
"We are, between now and the summer session, wanting to come back with (a legislative proposal) and that will give members an opportunity to suggest some changes, with a possibility of introducing a bill in the May-June session," McLeod said.