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MLA proposes fund for power outages
Dolynny wants to hear from Yellowknifers whose home or businesses were damaged in Dec. 29 power failure

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Friday, January 10, 2014

As Yellowknife residents continue to deal with damage from the power outage on Dec. 29, one Yellowknife MLA is pushing for a contingency plan to help cover future damages incurred by residents when the NWT Power Corporation cannot keep the lights on in the city.

"The first thing we need to do is quantify what the damage is," said Range Lake MLA Daryl Dolynny. "No one is taking an inventory of how much damage really is out there."

On Dec. 29, a failure in the hydro line cut power to Yellowknife, Ndilo and Dettah. A problem with the automatic startup at the Jackfish Lake diesel power plant meant that electricity was not restored to the entire grid for over three hours - after four hours, a state of emergency could have been called. Temperatures during that time dipped to -41 C.

Dolynny is asking anyone whose home or business was damaged in the outage to contact his office or their MLA, so that he can come up with a total to bring to the legislative assembly when it sits again, beginning on Feb. 4.

He has also requested a full report from the power corp explaining what went on during the outage.

Ultimately, Dolynny would like to see a fund created to help home and business owners pay for damages they cannot afford that are caused by power failures.

"I found it very odd that we've never designed any type of contingency fund, or income-tax type fund, where damages have been incurred and people can't afford it," he said.

"It's basically NTPC's fault or (the GNWT's) fault for not providing reasonable power, in terms of having a proper turnaround when there is a power outage - especially at - 40 C."

Most damage during that time involved water pipes freezing or bursting, which is not covered under most home or business insurance.

An employee at Roberts Plumbing and Heating, who asked not to be named, said its staff have been working from early morning until 10 or 11 p.m., since the outage to get water running around the city. Many clients remain on the waiting list.

Coyotes Bar and Grill owner Edward But has been living in Coast Fraser Towers since the outage because of damage done to his home on Finlayson Drive. But that damage is the least of his worries right now. The outage caused extensive damage to his business, which he told Yellowknifer will remain closed for repairs and renovations until at least next week.

The outage caused his boilers to fail, and in the cold snap during the following days caused "basically every pipe in the place to burst," said But.

The saltwater fish kept in the bar all died during the deep freeze.

He estimated Coyotes will lose $100,000, including the cost of repairs and lost business.

However, But was quick to point out that he's not the worst off in the city, as he has a "rainy day fund" and recently learned that most of the damage will be covered by insurance.

"There's a lot of people that still don't have water," he said. "We're lucky in that we have a lot of business partners in town that are supporting us."

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