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NWT Chamber of Commerce voices 'absolute opposition' to Games

Northern News Services
Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The president of the NWT Chamber of Commerce has written a letter to city council and MLAs expressing "absolute opposition" to a bid for the 2023 Canada Winter Games.

"We have serious issues to address across the NWT and in Yellowknife," the letter signed by president Kevin Diebold, also sent Monday to Yellowknifer, states. "Population migration rates are troublesome; the cost of living is too high; resource investments have stalled; mines are closing; and unemployment is on the rise."

The Games, Diebold wrote, will only serve to distract from those issues and divert money away from where it is needed.

"We're in a decline and for the next few years we have to tighten our belts," Diebold said in an interview. He said the chamber will be following the progress of the issue as it is considered by city council. The letter was released the same day as GNWT officials gave reporters an update on the territory's finances. That update projects the GNWT will run a $32 million deficit in 2019-20 and will have more than $1 billion of debt.

"No one appears to be looking at the economic indicators and recognizing that we don't currently have the capacity to host the Games and will have even less capacity in the years ahead," the letter states. The Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce, a separate organization representing and advocating for city-based businesses, has repeatedly advocated against a Games bid. It reaffirmed that position last Thursday in a news release.

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