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City Council Briefs
No residential development for Old Airport Road

Cody Punter
Northern News Services
Published Friday, November 15, 2013

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE
Acting mayor Cory Vanthuyne broke a tied vote to strike down a bylaw that would have allowed the development of homes and apartments along a stretch of Old Airport Road during a Tuesday council meeting.

Council had previously voted four to three in favour of bringing the bylaw forward to council.

However, during the bylaw's first reading, Coun. Linda Bussey decided to change

her original decision and voted against the bylaw.

Bussey said she changed her mind after speaking with residents who were concerned the bylaw would hurt efforts to revitalize the downtown core.

"I want to see buildings, not parking lots," she said.

With Mayor Mark Heyck absent and Coun. Adrian Bell declaring a conflict of interest, there was a tied vote, leaving the fate of the bylaw in the hands of acting Mayor Cory Vanthuyne.

The recommended changes would have allowed high-density residential units on Old Airport Road, beginning at Byrne Road and extending to the Co-Op, where residential or mixed-use development is not permitted.

Vanthuyne, who had previously spoken out against the bylaw, said he was happy to see council vote it down.

"This shows that it's important that there is a process involved to get from point A to point B," said Vanthuyne.

Vanthuyne said the area is better suited to commercial development. However, he added that if anyone wanted to develop mixed use or residential properties in the area in the future, they could apply for a site specific permit.

Snow removal a slippery slope

Loraine Hewlett took council on a tour of some of the city's most treacherous sidewalks in a photo-filled presentation during Tuesday's council meeting.

Hewlett, who was making a presentation at the request of Coun. Dan Wong, showed a series of photos which documented the conditions of icy sidewalks and poorly plowed roads over the last few weeks. After her presentation, Hewlett called on the city to better clear the city's streets of snow and ice, and for stronger enforcement of the city's bylaw that calls for property owners to keep their sidewalks clear.

Hewlett said she fell on an iced-over sidewalk on Franklin Avenue in front of TD Bank earlier this month. As a result of the fall, she suffered an injury and had to take four days off work to recover.

"I'm a 50 year old woman trying to reduce my carbon footprint," Hewlett told Yellowknifer after the meeting. "I feel like a second-class citizen."

The city's bylaws currently state that property owners have 24 hours from the time of the snowfall to clear their sidewalks. Failure to do so will result in a $50 fine for residential properties and $100 for commercial ones.

Hewlett said the city has twice delayed discussing changing the bylaw in the past two years.

"How many people have to get hurt before we do something?" she asked.

Coun. Bob Brooks had originally requested that council debate the city's snow removal bylaw during Tuesday's committee meeting.

However, he decided it was best to defer the discussion until budget deliberations.

SAO Dennis Kefalas said that administration also plans to propose the expansion of its snow-removal services along Franklin Avenue during budget deliberations. When asked whether snow-removal could be expanded beyond Franklin Avenue, Kefalas said that it was possible, but that there would be financial implications of expanding the service.

Coun. Dan Wong suggested that simply enforcing existing bylaws more strictly could make the sidewalks safer.

Street-cleaning jobs: opportunities for homeless

The possibility of employing homeless people to clean city streets was proposed during a Tuesday committee meeting.

Coun. Adrian Bell said he would like to explore the possibility of employing people to pick up garbage off the street with hand-pushed carts during the summer.

"One of the obvious points here is going along in a Ford F-150 and jumping out every now and again doesn't really get at some of the smaller litter," said Bell.

Bell said creating the positions would help keep the streets clean in the summer while providing potential employment for summer students.

Coun. Dan Wong took Bell's suggestion further by saying the city should look at employing clients from the day shelter to man the carts and collect garbage.

"Unlike other cities, which have effectively criminalized homelessness, this is a much brighter solution to an ever-growing problem. I think it's a tremendous step in the right direction for the issue of homelessness."

Bell said he would bring the idea forward as an item during budget deliberations in a few weeks.

In the meantime, he said he hoped the city would consult with the day shelter about the feasibility of such a program.

"If we could reach out to the day shelter and get some thoughts on this, I think it would be very helpful," he said.

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