NNSL Photo/Graphic

Canadian North

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

Questions raised over dock purchase
Mayor says $50,000 grant had time limit

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Another issue raised at Monday's special city council meeting focused on why administration went ahead and purchased equipment for a public floatplane and boat dock even though council has yet to offer its approval.

The city purchased the docks after obtaining a $50,000 grant from the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment through the Community Tourism Infrastructure Contribution Program.

"We find it troubling that administration has purchased docking equipment before the decision has actually been made by council," said Morrison Drive resident Louise Dundas-Matthews.

Several Latham Island residents told Yellowknifer they were not aware of the dock purchase until arriving for a two-hour, special invite-only meeting held last Thursday night at city hall. Members of administration, council, representatives of the floatplane association and Latham Island residents were present. Residents were given three mapped options of how the docking could be installed.

Public trails and facilities have long been a bone of contention on Latham Island, where many residents have longstanding private docks on the shore.

Dundas-Matthews said, however, her neighbours could support one of the options which would see a small tie-in dock at the end of Lessard Drive, on the condition that it was a one-time project without future additions. She says neighbours support floatplane moorage in the area, but residents don't want to see additional traffic that could disrupt other activities, such as canoeing and kayaking.

Mayor Gord Van Tighem said the purchase of the docks was "procedural" and the city had been offered funding when it became clear the city was expecting between 14 and 19 floatplanes to arrive with the Century Flight Club on July 15. Planes - 130 in total, including wheeled aircraft - will be coming from all over the United States and Canada. According to the funding stipulations, the city had until March 31 to use the money or lose it, said Van Tighem.

"As far as the purchasing goes, there is nothing untoward with that because council, in its normal operating procedures, delegates certain authorities to the administrative people," said Van Tighem. "If (administration) has the opportunity within their discretion, they can take it."

Alayna Ward, manager of public affairs and communications for the tourism department, said the money was given specifically to the city for a dock in Old Town.

"These (grants) are to support major capital projects and the contributions are usually in a fairly higher amount in order to do capital investment," she said, adding the grant is an annual investment. "These are for major infrastructure investments meant to increase tourism around the area."

Council held off making a decision on the dock until a yet-to-be-determined date.

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.