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Yellowknife council briefs
Councillors give budget wish list

Shane Magee
Northern News Services
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Extra paving, replacing downtown sidewalks and more money for trails were among suggestions city councillors pitched as administration continues drafting the 2016 budget.

Administration last month presented a rough outline of the budget, expected to be voted on after the fall election, which included a 3.5 per cent property tax rate increase and three per cent user fee increase.

During the Monday municipal services committee meeting, Mayor Mark Heyck advocated for paving of Cameron Road and Taltheilei Drive to be moved ahead instead of paving the access road to the city cemetery. He also suggested a proposed splash pad for Somba K'e Civic Plaza and said there may be some funding from another level of government for the construction. A splash pad is an area with fountains that people can play in.

Coun. Bob Brooks sought to have the city pitch in an additional $250,000 for a trail network atop Twin Pine Hill, the site of a 126-unit condo development. Already the developer has set aside $250,000 and so has the city. Brooks said $500,000 likely won't be enough, though.

Deputy Mayor Linda Bussey suggested the city should have a dedicated budget line for social development considering it funds things such as the day shelter and the Community Advisory Board on Homelessness.

Coun. Niels Konge said he won't be receptive to administration's proposed tax rate increase. Instead of more parks and trails, he said the focus of the capital spending should be "about what's important:" roads, sidewalks, water and sewer lines and maintaining existing assets.

He also proposed traffic control - whether a four-way stop or street lights - at the intersection of Kam Lake Road and Finlayson Drive.

Coun. Cory Vanthuyne said council needs to talk about setting aside money for the replacement in 2020 of an eight-kilometre-long underwater pipe that carries the city's drinking water from the Yellowknife River. Yellowknifer reported earlier this year the estimated cost has doubled in price in the last three years to $20 million.

Coun. Rebecca Alty said the budget should focus on maintaining existing facilities and assets such as parks and buildings. She also wants a sidewalk built along Forrest Drive where water and sewer work is now underway.

Coun. Adrian Bell said there are several stretches of downtown sidewalks that should be replaced and also wondered if the budget for street paving can be increased to "raise the bar" to meet resident expectations.

Couns. Dan Wong and Phil Moon Son did not attend the meeting.

'Unprecedented' deal for kennel relocation considered

City council will consider at an upcoming meeting whether to propose an offer to the Yellowknife Dog Trotters to entice it to move its kennels from Kam Lake to the Engle Business District.

Councillors on Monday heard an administration proposal that includes offering tax incentives for relocation, a payment plan for the land purchase, covering some of the cost of preparation of the new site such as blasting, reducing the land price by up to 25 per cent, and a provision for a caretaker suite at the new location. The city report did not provide an estimate of the cost of the land or of the cost to prepare it.

Administration hopes to make an offer to the group in the near future to relocate the facility by 2017.

Long-time Kam Lake resident Peter Curran told councillors he was in favour of the proposal during the committee meeting Monday.

"It is very generous. In fact, it appears to be unprecedented in its generosity," he said about the proposal administration brought forward for discussion.

"I'm very pleased with what we see before us," Coun. Bob Brooks said.

Coun. Rebecca Alty asked whether the group had offered an estimate on the cost it faces to relocate.

Director of planning and development Jeff Humble said it hadn't. He added the city's proposed relocation offer "is quite generous."

However, several councillors said they still didn't have enough information about the potential costs the city would face and asked for more time and data.

Mayor Mark Heyck moved the proposal forward to council for further debate given there was some support for the idea.

Zoning changes to Kam Lake mean new kennels are not allowed in the neighbourhood, though existing kennels were grandfathered in.

The city is hoping to relocate kennels to Engle over time to alleviate concerns about noise, smells and environmental contamination.

'Merchandise' recovered from Canadian Tire gun theft

City councillors were told Monday RCMP recovered "stolen merchandise"' from a Canadian Tire theft in May.

It's alleged two short-barrelled guns - a Rossi Ranch Hand and a Chiappa Survival Series - were stolen May 25 from a locked display case while the store was open.

"We have obtained most of the stolen merchandise back," RCMP Sgt. Donald Duplissea said while presenting the May crime statistics to the Monday municipal services committee meeting. Yellowknifer could not confirm by press time if it was indeed the firearms that were recovered.

When two men were arrested in June, police stated the firearms had not been recovered. Todd Vatcher, 23 and Beau Desire-Tesar, 28, of Yellowknife are each facing charges of unauthorized possession of a firearm, theft under $5,000 and failing to comply with court orders.

Overall, the statistics presented to councillors show there had been 5,505 calls for police service in the first five months of this year, up slightly from the 5,156 calls the first five months of 2014.

The report tracks "occurrences," or the number of times RCMP opened a file for a specific crime type.

The report shows 242 assaults from the start of the year until the end of May which is compared to 297 for the same period last year.

The number of break and enters was up - at 61 so far compared to 35 during the same period last year. Drug possession was essentially unchanged while drug trafficking was down to 20 from 35 for the same period last year. The largest number of occurrences, according to the monthly report, was for disturbance/mischief, which includes public intoxication.

There have been 2,272 occurrences in that category so far this year compared with 2,332 for the first five months of 2014.

The second highest is for Liquor Act violations - 763 to the end of May compared to 676 for the same time period last year.

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