NNSL Photo/Graphic

Canadian North

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

Northland owners OK loan for infrastructure

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services
Published Friday, June 8, 2012

Northland Trailer Park surpassed a major hurdle this week as it received the signatures needed to approve a memorandum with the city for infrastructure repair.

NNSL photo/graphic

Laura Mason signs a plebiscite at Northern United Place on May 24 regarding the memorandum of understanding between the city and the Northland condo board. - Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

Infrastructure committee member Wade Friesen said the adequate number of votes were received Tuesday and that the condo board would be going over the votes to verify the signatures.

Signatures from people who have not signed continue to be welcome, he said. Another meeting is to be held Thursday night at Nova Court at 7 p.m.

"I have been on this for eight and a half or nine years and this has been a huge undertaking, having seen all the progress from the start to where we are right now," he said.

Friesen said he knows which resident's signature officially gave the condo board the approval, however he indicated he would protect the individual's anonymity.

This achievement is clearly a milestone for the trailer park, especially after the past year, which saw rejections for funding assistance from both the GNWT and the federal government. This ultimately led Friesen and a number of others representing the trailer park to enter negotiations with the city to find a way to fix crumbling water and sewer infrastructure in the area. Northland's governing board and the city agreed to a deal last month that would require owners of Northland's 258 trailers to pay no more than $358 per month over 25 years to pay down the $15.7 million needed to replace the park's aging water and sewer infrastructure.

"It is good to see the support that we have had and we have never had 80 per cent of eligible voters agree to anything in the trailer park before," Friesen said. "That in itself is a huge statement."

After January, when council directed the city to enter negotiations with the board, there had been some doubt as to whether there could be any quorum at all on being able to move forward.

Trevor Kasteel, who has been working on the infrastructure committee, said there has been a huge change in attitude. This was proven when the required 66 and two-thirds per cent to approve the memorandum, or 156 signatures, was well surpassed. In the last two weeks, after 13 volunteers went door-to-door and public meetings were held, 177 signatures were attained by press time.

"I think for the vast majority of residents it was a real 180 within the last four or five months," Kasteel said. "It is about people focusing on getting the best deal possible and focusing on the facts and picking the best option and going with it. It is awesome to see where we are. People have been going door to door every night. We had six weeks to get it done and finished in two and a half."

Pearl Benyk, director with the board, said she is relieved by the result.

"It has been eight long years and I am very, very pleased that it is now done," she said. "I am surprised that we got it done so quickly and a great big thanks to all the people who put out the energy in the last bit. The people who went door-to-door are hugely appreciated."

Deputy mayor Mark Heyck - who was acting mayor this week while Mayor Gord Van Tighem was out of town - said the signatures have to be verified before being brought to council. From there, a local improvement charge bylaw and borrowing bylaw have to be passed before costs for tendering are then considered.

"We are very pleased to see this progressing and it was a lot of work primarily among the condo board and the residents who live there," said Heyck.

Heyck said he does not expect to see the issue as soon as Monday's municipal services committee but thinks there could be some scheduling changes over the summer to move the project forward quickly.

"Everyone wants to see this move forward as quickly as possible so it is very well possible there could be some special meetings called if necessary to expedite things because our regular meeting schedule slows down during June and July," he said.

Councillor Amanda Mallon said she was very happy with the approval by residents.

"What a relief it is for everyone involved," said Mallon, who has been the city representative at board meetings for the past year. "What is a real delight to me is that the people in Northland are even more excited than we are. I am really glad it is not going to be an election issue once again and is settled that way."

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