Candidate Answers

Do you think city council handled the misconduct allegations at Municipal Enforcement Division appropriately?

City hall was rocked earlier this year with accusations of workplace misconduct against Doug Gillard, manager of Municipal Enforcement Division (MED).

Niels Konge, city council candidate

Niels Konge: Councillor happy complaints policy at city now in the workBeing an incumbent I am obviously biased on this. Yes.

Robin Williams, city council candidate

Yes I do. An independent investigation was commissioned and found the city handled the situation appropriately.

William Gomes, city council candidate

In my position, as a new candidate with a limited access to inside information, I am not comfortable to make an opinion on this issue; however, the concerns that the citizens of Yellowknife raised during my door-to-door visit are as follows:

  • More transparency between the city and stakeholders
  • Reduce the communication gap
  • Address real-time issues on a timely basis
  • Focus on accuracy
  • Communicate the outcomes in a timely manner.

Bob Stewart, mayoral candidate

I think the council was operating under the advice of their lawyers. They should not have created an environment that could be abused.
There is no reason for a live streaming video environment. If they wanted cameras there should be a requisition process in order to investigate incidents only. Nothing else should be viewable. You can have security cameras that record and store information without live monitors. I am strongly against government surveillance in general.

Cynthia Mufandaedza, city council candidate

I think more could have been done, however we all learn from these situations.  I think the recommendation to review policy regularly is a great start.  I also think the city implementing a code of conduct, the whistle blower initiative, the employee survey as well as putting the camera policy in place will help deal with any future problems and hopefully avoid incidents like the MED allegations.

Julian Morse, city council candidate

Yes, council launched an official inquiry into the misconduct allegations, which was an appropriate course of action considering the nature of the allegations. A number of policy changes were made by council, including several which council only recently directed administration to make, and will be coming to the next council for approval. On top of this, I would like to see the next council engage in a conversation about how accountability can further be improved, potentially through a mechanism for third-party investigations when officer conduct is called into question, similar to how RCMP operates. A discussion is also needed on the overall mandate and enforcement policies of our MED dept., to ensure the department is operating in line with council's priorities and objectives.

Rommel Silverio, city council candidate

Yes. The city council has commissioned an independent third-party legal counsel to further investigate whether the allegations were properly handled by the city. In my opinion, an external third party to investigate is the best way to detach from any biases and partialities. The learning that we can get from this experience is to have better policies enforced such as the Whisteblower Policy, Camera Use Policy, Complaint Process Policy, and other related disciplinary policies. It reminds all employees and elected officials about our Code of Conduct, transparency, and restores public trust and corporate image.

Jerald Sibbeston, mayoral candidate

It has become apparent to me that many senior managers at city are unaware of what a conflict of interest even is. The only way to fix THAT is to find competent senior managers that understand what a conflict of interest is and what the guidelines are to avoid one. If my proposed ombuds office is formed, that would be the correct avenue for issues like the MED scandal to be addressed towards.

If elected, I will bring a swift and immediate stand that the personnel in question (Doug Gillard) is suspended with pay pending the outcome of a decision on the ongoing investigation into this person's conduct. I do not know Mr. Gillard. I only know his wife because of the election, and she is the city clerk. What I have read in the media and what I have read on my Facebook page after that letter (a deposition by a former officer) was posted (I took it down quickly) is what informs me on this. Bad behavior in my administration will not be tolerated and will be dealt with expediently before the ombuds panel (basically a new city court) at arms length from mayor and council. Over the ensuing decade, I imagine a city clean of this kind of malpractice.

Mark Bogan, city council candidate

City council has a reputation of being mute period. Council meetings are largely held in-camera. Responding to the people’s letters, calls or emails lacks substance.

My wishes are for citizens to enjoy an open, transparent, accountable, inclusive, accessible plus responsive municipal government.

Edwin Castillo, city council candidate

There’s always room for improvement in retrospect in the handling of such sensitive issues. Proper policies and processes need to be in place through which the council and the mayor can make decisions in a systematic, consistent and timely manner. With these in place, the new council and mayor would be better positioned to objectively address relevant risks and mitigate them while ensuring that people affected are treated reasonably, fairly and respectfully.

Adrian Bell, mayoral candidate

City council shouldn’t have to wade into personnel matters at all. But when things are mismanaged at the highest levels, as they were in 2014, council needs to have a tool for holding those responsible to account. An official inquiry would seem to be that tool, but there is no policy in place to instruct council on conducting such a process. Without a clear policy, council didn’t have a means of ensuring the inquiry was as transparent as possible, or even that council itself would be privy to all the relevant details. Given these shortcomings, I think council tried its best. But an official inquiry policy must be put in place ASAP so that in the rare cases when things go wrong at the highest levels, it has a means of holding those responsible to account.

John Dalton, city council candidate

The way this was handled has brought loss of respect to council and mistrust of this council to do the right thing. In any organization if serious accusations are made about any staff member, action must be taken immediately. The individual should have been suspended with pay, as is the legal requirement, until a comprehensive investigation is completed. In this situation, as I understand it, the individual continued to attend meetings and work. Also the terms of reference for the review were not comprehensive.

Stacie Smith, city council candidate

There is more to the Municipal Enforcement allegations that has not been divulged to the public. Without full transparency to the public I cannot determine a true stance on whether the appropriate course of action was administered.

Shauna Morgan, city council candidate

While it is well outside the role of city council to hire, fire or discipline anyone, the critical role council does play is to guide overall policy, and to ensure that rights are being protected -- both rights of the public and rights of city staff. These include rights of the public to privacy and respectful treatment by any city staff member. They also include rights of staff to safe and respectful workplaces, and the right to have personnel matters handled confidentially, fairly and professionally.

To this end, over the past year, city council has introduced a Safe and Respectful Workplace Policy, a Security Camera Policy, a Whistleblower Policy, a Public Complaints Policy, and a much-strengthened Council Code of Ethics which includes the appointment of a new and independent integrity commissioner. In addition, the city has taken significant steps through our extremely competent SAO to improve overall workplace culture. I believe we are in a much better position now to make sure that, going forward, any behaviour resembling the allegations concerning MED could not happen.

One highly problematic area in council’s handling of the situation was when we encountered information leaks about confidential personnel matters, shared during in-camera meetings, to the public and/or media. This is a violation of our code of ethics and counteracts the positive efforts underway to improve workplace culture and morale.

Dane Mason, city council candidate

The report summary states "this misconduct was not reported to City staff outside of those involved with the Department of Public Safety and that there was no indication City staff outside the Department of Public Safety ought to have been aware of this misconduct prior to these allegations becoming public in the fall of 2017”, but CBC published an article in Jan. 2018 which stated that emails in regards to the complaints were sent to both the SAO and the mayor in June 2015, which were met with the response, "If you continue to harass me with these delusional emails I will be contacting your currently [sic] employer".

This tells me two things:

(1) the scope of the inquiry has been modified to exclude some complaints, and

(2) in the absence of Access to Information and Protection of Privacy legislation, information is being leaked to the press without the proper vetting to ensure that it does not compromise the expectation that citizens have of the city to protect the personal information collected of them.

Making internal policies accessible, and adopting access to information and protection of privacy measures will make both of these issues much more manageable in the future, and we'd be able to see the full scope/methodology section instead of a summary, without any personal information, instead of just speculating on it.

Rebecca Alty, mayoral candidate

Yes. The senior administrative officer (SAO) of the city is following through on recommendations contained in the full report.

Chris Gillander, city council candidate

I am not in a position to comment until I have full information. That is until such a time as I have reviewed all relevant documentation, unavailable to the public. Until then, I do not wish to pass final judgement.

Terry Testart, city council candidate

No.

Josh Campbell, city council candidate

No it was handled terribly. City council and Mayor Heyck failed to address this transparently. I can personally speak to this as a family friend of Gary Jaeb, who was manhandled by two officers from the city. Look up the video of the incident, it's on Youtube. I addressed the mayor and council on this incident back in 2014 ... two councils ago. City council can't brush this under the rug. They cannot say "its a personnel," matter as I was told in 2014.

The victims, and those embarrassed need to get closure and at the very least an apology from the city. There should've have been a publicly available document of the review. Now it looks like two botched reviews, little public or third party oversight, and no communications plan to share those findings with the media and public.

Moving forward I also feel bad for the head of MED Doug Gillard. He has taken the brunt of this. If the letter from MED staff and former Mayor Dave Lovell are true, then we have a lot of work to do on the next council to make amends and do things right.

If residents want MED to be a police department, then more money must be poured into the public safety department, and proper policing training needs to take place. From my research, a municipality shouldn't have a police force unless our population was at 60 thousand plus. We contract the RCMP to do the crime investigations and policing. MED is for traffic stops, speed control, parking metres, and hopefully dog bylaw enforcement. As I said before, the city needs to get back to the basics of community governance: dogs, ditches and dumps. We're not Toronto, We're not Vancouver, We're not Halifax .... We're Yellowknife!

Steve Payne, city council candidate

I think city council did what we could to handle the situation. Anytime we are dealing with employee issues, we have to be careful as to not open the city up to future litigation.

What do you think has a greater chance of success downtown, business or residential development?

The flight of businesses from the downtown core has been an ongoing saga for more than 10 years, whether it be due to high rent, competition from online retailers, or issues with loitering and homelessness.

Niels Konge, city council candidate

Niels Konge: Councillor happy complaints policy at city now in the workThis is not a one or the other question.  You need both for a vibrant downtown.

Robin Williams, city council candidate

I'm a firm believer that healthy urban environments have a healthy mixture of residents and businesses. Success downtown, I believe, will be achieved through economic development and growth.

William Gomes, city council candidate

I would like to emphasize on the bigger picture here. Our cost of living is increasing, our businesses in downtown are closing, our mining industry is suffering from uncertainty and our labour market is under the threat of massive job losses. Opening an opportunity to attract more investors in this town seems the most viable option for me. Developments in residential sectors are important; however, renting an apartment or purchasing a home requires a certain amount of household income which can only be achieved either from the business revenue or employment income. Businesses create the opportunity for employment, employment increases the opportunity of purchasing power, purchasing power increases the demand to purchase and finally, the demand provide incentives for suppliers to produce and supply products. In my opinion, I would rather attract more business development in the downtown core than residential development.

Bob Stewart, mayoral candidate

Residential development is most important. It will directly improve the business atmosphere downtown and businesses would prosper as a result.

Cynthia Mufandaedza, city council candidate

As a growing city, if Yellowknife would look at a population growth strategy that targets Millennials and young professionals, and retirees, then developing downtown residential units would be the way to go as well as providing a policy that supports business to remain downtown.  Young professionals and seniors generally want to live in a city, where they can walk or bike to work and have amenities such as the library within walking distance.

Julian Morse, city council candidate

We need a balanced mix of both for a healthy downtown - the two go hand-in-hand. I am supportive of measures to attract commercial and residential development in our downtown.

Rommel Silverio, city council candidate

I think we need to create both. I think downtown should be developed for both business and residential. We want to see more constructions of affordable rental housing units. There are some zoning issues that need to be resolved in order to maximize the potential use of some vacant lots. There are some social issues that need to be addressed to attract people and businesses to live or operate downtown. I see that when downtown is densified with residential population, business will flourish.

Jerald Sibbeston, mayoral candidate

More high density residential downtown in the very core would make the most sense to complement the already available commercial space. Just to toss an idea out there, could the Bellanca tower be redeveloped into residential or even better, into a hotel? The city could make the permitting process for such a project possible. I would also encourage a bit of high density buildings near the Yellowknife Co-op and hospital area to complement our downtown offerings with some uptown offerings. I am going to try to open up the land between Frame Lake and Niven Drive near the Legislative Assembly, so much of that will be near the downtown core, and some would be closer to Range Lake. I see us seeking proposals from developers to build on the city lots downtown if the project fits. If those lots were sold, I would put the funding into tourism marketing.

Mark Bogan, city council candidate

Business development. However, the NWT has some of the highest crime, drug and alcohol consumption plus family violence, rates in Canada. Not the kind of attributes that attracts investment dollars.

It is my intent to reach out to various stakeholders, education, policing, recreational and social services to have a comprehensive community voice in improving Yellowknife.

Edwin Castillo, city council candidate

Personally, I believe the city needs more downtown business investment and development in order to grow and sustain the city in the long term. Without this investment it would be a difficult o attract visitors and new residents that would add to the revenue base necessary to the city’s development .

Adrian Bell, mayoral candidate

Business for now and residential in the future. Our empty downtown mall gives many people the impression that the downtown is a bad place to do business, but I know from personal experience that’s not the case. The “indoor mall” format of commercial space has been dying across Canada since the 1990s, but other, sometimes older formats are back in style. The Fat Fox Café was a perfect example of a space that can work. Overlander Sports is another. If elected mayor, I will make it my personal mission to attract investment to all areas of town that have untapped potential and where, for a variety of reasons, the private sector needs a bit of a nudge to get things rolling.

John Dalton, city council candidate

Business or residential development are both seriously affected by our issues in the downtown area, but solutions are available. With innovation and a combined co-ordinated approach between agencies and government and cost and a commitment to the long term by all, thing can change. In the short term residential development is most likely to succeed as accommodation is always needed and taxes and overheads are normally fairly fixed.

Stacie Smith, city council candidate

Residential development will not succeed in downtown if there aren’t any businesses to work at. This is the main reason people choose to have homes in the downtown area. Business development should be a top priority in the revitalization project.

Shauna Morgan, city council candidate

We need both – they complement each other. For instance, you could have a building featuring storefront businesses on the ground floor, and housing units built on upper floors. More people living downtown will mean more people shopping and eating downtown, which will increase the vitality of our city centre.

Dane Mason, city council candidate

Why not both? Mixed use should be encouraged (café/local shops on the ground, residential on the top), and changes to the policy framework surrounding accessory dwelling units would help us make better use of available land by incrementally increasing residential density, and provide steady foot traffic to keep businesses in business. But really, if a developer is ready to sink investment into one of our many empty lots, should the city look a gift horse in the mouth at this point?

Rebecca Alty, mayoral candidate

Our downtown presents opportunities for innovation and investment as part of a larger strategic plan. There are opportunities to achieve success for both business and residential developments.  A lively downtown typically has a healthy mix of both.  To encourage both residential and commercial development we need to make some changes.  I propose working with council on revising the zoning bylaw to decrease parking requirements, expediting development permits for downtown, and/or revising our Development Incentive Bylaw.

Chris Gillander, city council candidate

The downtown should take the form of a combination of business and residential development. By re-zoning certain parts of the downtown to allow for select commercial residential hybrids, we could reduce costs to small business owners. Instead of paying a mortgage and rent at a downtown storefront, they could have a single mortgage with their store in home, while staying accessible for tourists and locals.

Terry Testart, city council candidate

All, with better planning.

Josh Campbell, city council candidate

Both. The city of Belleville, Ontario took on a neat downtown revitalization model by working with the business community while also addressing housing. It's a common theme across urban Canada after the 1990s saw many urban centre downtowns crumble and give way to the big box strip malls away from the urban centres.

In Belleville, boutiques, small businesses, similar to what's on Franklin Avenue downtown made a comeback, and above the stores and storefronts buildings and companies made loft apartments. Great for young professionals working in the government and commercial sectors. Another theme to consider here is absentee landlords. How many large properties are owned by big corporations who are not even invested in this community. How many years has the Precambrian Building stood vacant ... empty? The conversation needs to happen about the ludicrous rent in our malls, and the outdated store fronts. What business wants to move into the Centre Square Mall? It is sad to see our Asian tourists wandering past so many empty stores in a mall, that the corporate landlord doesn't care or attempt to fill or attract business tenants.

Steve Payne, city council candidate

I think we need both.

Would you continue to increase efforts downtown in dealing with homelessness and addictions, or is this a GNWT responsibility?

A 10-year plan to end homelessness in the city is expected to cost $147 million.

Niels Konge, city council candidate

Niels Konge: Councillor happy complaints policy at city now in the workGNWT responsibility. The city can help if the GNWT is funding it, or the federal government. But the city's tax dollars should not be going to this.

 

 

Robin Williams, city council candidate

Increase, no, but stay on the course of the 10 year plan to end homelessness, yes. The GNWT and the previous council spent a substantial amount of time and effort on this issue. We have made commitments and I believe we should continue to fulfill these commitments.

William Gomes, city council candidate

This is our major social issue and all three levels of government are responsible to address this matter. At the city level, I would like to ensure that an adequate effort to increase the collaboration with our territorial and federal government, partners and stakeholders are ongoing and continuous. We must ensure that all levels of government are getting engaged to resolve the issue. I truly believe that increasing the number of shelters is not the complete solution to the addiction problem. Adding rehabilitation facilities within the shelter, for instance, may result in more positive outcomes than only providing a warm place to sleep and warm food to eat. Our businesses are diminishing, our tourists feel lack of safety, our parents feel uncomfortable of sending their children to the library and our citizens are trying to avoid visiting this certain part of the city due to the same social issue. In my opinion, an appropriate measure to address this social issue needs to be taken today rather than later. We, along with other levels of government must come forward to find the solution.

Bob Stewart, mayoral candidate

It is my primary concern to properly address this issue, and while it is a GNWT responsibility, it is a challenge and should be a primary concern for all Yellowknifers as well. It is the only way to transform this into a safe and prosperous city.

 

Cynthia Mufandaedza, city council candidate

Increased efforts must be continued in dealing with homelessness and addictions in our city.  I would like to see council continue to work closely with partners such as the GNWT and other not for profit organizations.

Julian Morse, city council candidate

Ultimately, social issues are primarily a GNWT and federal responsibility, however, leadership at the municipal level has resulted in significant improvements over the last three years. I believe the municipality has a significant role to play in continuing to foster the multi-jurisdictional partnerships necessary to address these issues holistically. Simply throwing our hands in the air and saying this is someone else's problem is not acceptable. The city receives federal funding for homelessness initiatives. I strongly supported these initiatives, and will continue to do so, while continuing to ensure the GNWT and the feds fulfill their end of the bargain.

Rommel Silverio, city council candidate

Yes. Homelessness and addiction is not a one-man job. The city should continue to collaborate with the GNWT and various sectors in the community to deal with this on-going social issue. I think the city can help by increasing foot patrols and municipal enforcement presence downtown so that the residents feel safe at their homes, businesses can operate without nuisance, workers/employees feel safe going to work, and tourists can have a great experience and they feel safe downtown.

In my observation, the new sobering centre has decreased unnecessary trips to the hospital resulting in cost savings. Also, beds are saved for patients who need necessary medical attention. I support programs to encourage employment opportunities for the homeless. On the other hand, I hear dissatisfaction of its new location and collaboratively, I think it is important to continuously seek for a location that works for all.

In addition, I think that the outreach van hours of operation should be made available 24 hours a day or on an as when required basis outside its normal hours of operation.

Jerald Sibbeston, mayoral candidate

I would take responsibility for this issue to as great an extent as possible. The limitation is of course funding. I would seek to restructure funding from the GNWT for any future proposals beyond the 10 Year Plan for Homelessness. I would also increase the inclusion of the NWT Disabilities Council in the design of my Wet Shelter/Safe Injection Site pilot project that I have proposed at Bristol Pit. It will be a good way to see if we can manage our most in needs issues.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/apr/26/homeless-shelter-ottawa-gives-wine-to-alcoholics is an amazing article that is based on other European programs. We desperately need this similar type of program to draw the most affected of our homeless away from our tourist and nightlife areas. Please see my post here on my thoughts: facebook.com/JeraldSibbeston4AntiCorruptionMayorOfYellowknife/ and I have pinned my post on homelessness to the top of my page.

Mark Bogan, city council candidate

Currently employed at a homeless shelter indicates my passions for helping others.

Such employment has led me to research social programs with a proven track record in other countries that have improved their cities and communities. A wellness centre for the addicted is a major concern which I would approach the GNWT Justice and Social Service Committee to examine, and where practical, implement programs that have proven successful in other locations.

Edwin Castillo, city council candidate

Housing and health are typically territorial government and federal responsibilities; however, as it affects municipalities directly, it is a shared responsibility between the three levels of government. Many of the homeless for example, are resident from outside of Yellowknife in the NWT. Because of the higher costs and inadequate resources in their home communities, many of the homeless and addicted move to Yellowknife to improve their situation and to obtain relief from the services and programs only available the city. As Yellowknife residents cannot be fully burdened with the added costs, dealing with the growing homelessness and issues in the downtown core needs to be a joint collaboration between the governments with necessary input from affected business and organizations.

Adrian Bell, mayoral candidate

The GNWT and federal government are ultimately responsible for addressing homelessness, but the city can sometimes be more nimble and can pilot test new programs, demonstrating their usefulness, and then finding long-term funding from elsewhere. One example is the Homelessness Employment Program I brought forward in 2017. It is yielding great results for program participants and the community at large. I don’t think the GNWT would have tried something like that.

John Dalton, city council candidate

Council has to be involved in the solution of homelessness but the major costs should be born by senior government. Addictions are almost always a part of the issue and therefore dealing with these outcomes must be part of the solutions. In Yellowknife a large portion of those who are homeless are not original residents of Yellowknife but people who have come to the city for services not available in their home community. They came with these problems and therefore are much bigger than what Yellowknife can deal with by themselves. These issues will not solve themselves and if they are not dealt with they always get worse.

Stacie Smith, city council candidate

Downtown efforts are a significant portion of my platform. It is the responsibility of the city AND the GNWT to work together in the effort of fighting homelessness and addictions. Efforts need to be increased exponentially. Since the last election many of the candidates had mentioned providing more resources to the cause but since then little improvement has been made. Our present 10 year plan needs to be expedited as lives are at risk.

Shauna Morgan, city council candidate

The city needs to play a strong leadership role in ensuring all citizens are properly served, particularly those who are most vulnerable or marginalized. The city has to bring partners to the table, and continue to pressure the GNWT to fulfill its mandate. So far, one form of effective pressure has been to assist in getting a program off the ground but then hand it off to the GNWT. For example, in order to get the sobering centre off the ground while the GNWT searched for a long-term location, the city hosted the sobering centre at the YK Arena for the summer of 2017. Come fall, when the city needed to reclaim the arena for recreation programs again, the GNWT was under intense pressure to find a new location and continue the program, given its success.

Another effective program serving both the city’s needs and the needs of marginalized people has been the city’s Common Ground homeless employment program. Crews are hired to complete tasks such as street clean-up that improve the city, and give both crew members and other residents a greater sense of pride.

Dane Mason, city council candidate

In Portugal, a few years after making sweeping policy changes designed to assist people with substance abuse issues, the number of people with substance abuse issues in Portugal increased. They thought the policy changes might not be working. It turned out that just more people with these challenges were coming to an area where they could be treated fairly and deal with recovery. In another few years, the numbers started dropping.

This is similar to Yk’s position right now. With the only major homelessness supports in the territory, the city draws in people that need those supports. And although it’s a territorial issue, it affects Yellowknife specifically.

We need to be wary of scope creep, and make sure the territorial government is pulling its weight. But we also need to be part of the solution. Passing the buck is both morally wrong and fiscally irresponsible. The average cost of homelessness in Canada is $56,000 per person per year, and can climb up to $340,000 per person per year for some. And that’s the Canadian average - everything costs more up here. The costs of fair treatment, housing and supports are much lower.

One way to address this in a cost effective manner is to partner with the territorial government and NGOs to hold a recurring reverse trade show event. Reverse trade shows are common in the contracting and procurement world - picture a trade show, but instead of local contractors in the booths waiting to be talked to by representatives of government or industry, it’s the other way around. Now picture government services reps and NGOs in the booths instead, such as income assistance, shelter intake, housing first liaisons, support or counselling services, and access to rehab options.

Mix this with an already successful community event such as Rotary’s annual friendship breakfast, and we have a starting point for partnership, bridging the gap, actually reaching the people our programs are intended for, and continually adjusting our services - across governments - to meet the challenges ahead.

Rebecca Alty, mayoral candidate

I think that it’s important that the city continues to use tools and resources in the city’s control – such as donating land, tax incentives, etc – to access funds from a much larger pool of money from our partners at the GNWT and federal level. If elected mayor, I’m committed to working with all of our partners to ensure the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness continues to get implemented.

Chris Gillander, city council candidate

Homelessness and addiction are the shared responsibility of all levels of government and we need to work in tandem to curb the growing epidemic in Yellowknife.  The city has put forward the Ten Year Plan but without funding from other levels of government, the plan cannot be seen through to the end.

Terry Testart, city council candidate

The city needs to partner with others to come up with solutions to address the social and infrastructure problems in the downtown. This is neither the city’s sole responsibility nor the GNWT’s. I believe any solution needs to be undertaken by both governments in partnership.

Josh Campbell, city council candidate

I firmly believe a majority of homelessness and addictions programs are with the Department of Health and Social Services, and Health Canada. We also need to work or have a dialogue with the Dene Nation, and YKDFN who have and access dollars for health programs. Lets not re-invent the wheel. The warming day shelter is a great new facility. We still have work however on better downtown bathroom facilities.

Steve Payne, city council candidate

I think as a city we’ve done enough. This is a Health and Social Services issue.

What are you most comfortable with, higher taxes or higher user fees?

Last year, city administration proposed a 5.64 per cent property tax increase for 2018.

Niels Konge, city council candidate

Niels Konge: Councillor happy complaints policy at city now in the workHa, neither, it is a balance, some things should have higher user fees so taxes don’t go up for the masses, other times the opposite. You need to look at this holistically.

Robin Williams, city council candidate

I'm a firm believer in keeping taxes as low as possible for Yellowknife's residents. One of my goals if given a mandate, is to maximize the upcoming tourism levy and a potential vacancy tax to offset the tax burden to the individual resident. User fees are are my preferred form of taxation.

William Gomes, city council candidate

In my position, I would like to keep both sides remaining the same. Our country as a whole is currently under great financial distress and economic downfall. Our salary increments are way below matching our current inflation rate in Canada (4.8% per CPI). When commodities today are costing us more than ever and especially here in North, I strongly believe that we should not increase the taxes or the user fees.

Bob Stewart, mayoral candidate

Higher property tax is preferable to user fees. Property owners are in a better financial position to contribute, and user fees tend to be prohibitive to using city services. I am not in favor of raising either but cutting expenses instead.

 

Cynthia Mufandaedza, city council candidate

Neither one, I certainly understand that no taxes would mean no services, however Yellowknife residents and small businesses are struggling in our current economic downturn and should not be burdened by higher taxes or higher user fees from the municipal level. I believe we need to support the people of Yellowknife by keeping their taxes down.  If we control our city spending, we can keep taxes down.

Julian Morse, city council candidate

It's not that simple. Generally, we should seek to achieve cost-recovery of services where possible, but there are some situations where this isn't practical. I support lower user fees for lower-income families, seniors, and children, which needs to be compensated for elsewhere. I think most Yellowknifers are happy to pay a bit more if they know it means more people have access to our facilities and services.

Rommel Silverio, city council candidate

Yellowknifers are challenged with the high cost of living. This is the reason why many people choose to move to places where cost of living is more affordable. To attract more people to live and stay here, we must try to combat high taxes. I prefer higher user fees over higher taxes. For example, a resident who chooses not to use a facility because he/she is saving some money to fund his/her basic needs should not be burdened by further higher taxes as a result of maintaining that facility that he/she chose not to avail. The people who choose to use the facility should pay the fee. I think it is a good idea to explore the possibility of reducing fee offerings through some flex pricing strategies such as lowering fees during downtimes or low seasons.

Jerald Sibbeston, mayoral candidate

I am not comfortable with either. Yellowknife's main issue with growth is that there isn't any new land to to grow into. We also need to get behind our tourism industry and grow our economy. You cannot tax your way to wealth, only poverty. We are on that path to poverty and stagnation. It must stop to protect our homeowners and families investments in this city. Don't give up, please! We can make this a place of great opportunity beyond what it is presently. Tourism will provide entry level jobs to all of our citizens. A low tax environment for our citizens will encourage them to stay! I vehemently oppose a "land transfer tax" the GNWT is ordering, and it is a tax on Yellowknifers. It is contrary to everything I believe in. There has never been a government that has taxed it's way to wealth.

Mark Bogan, city council candidate

I am not comfortable with either. The cost of living within the North is high enough, specifically for elders and young families.

My plan includes reducing frivolous expenses while avoiding increases to the above mentions.

Edwin Castillo, city council candidate

I’m not in favor of higher taxes although we should look into new kinds of taxes such as an accommodation tax that is not uncommon in other jurisdictions to raise revenues. I am more agreeable to higher user fees but only if the quality of services is provided and maintained for the users based on regular satisfaction surveys and feedback.

Adrian Bell, mayoral candidate

I’m not comfortable with either if they are rising faster than the rate of inflation. The last two councils have managed to keep tax increases to less than 1% per year for six years. That’s pretty good, but fees have climbed at a higher rate. Council must seek ways to operate our fee-for-use services and facilities more cheaply.

John Dalton, city council candidate

Through our facilities, citizens young and elderly help build a strong and united healthy community. Our fees are already fairly high and some groups and team sports find it difficult to cover rental cost. Taxes are required and you cannot keep taxes at zero increases for long. As a councillor you have the responsibility to set priorities and to ensure cost-effective spending before going to the tax base for more funds. I have seen areas of misspending and I have all kinds of concerns on some planned activities or lack there of. This budget process should be interesting.

Stacie Smith, city council candidate

Higher taxes affect home/property owners. Marginally increased taxes are an area that can be investigated, as I am a home owner, I am capable to pay the costs however, if we increase user fees this can increase animosity between users and the city as they can feel they are being ripped off, especially in a tine of financial struggle.

Shauna Morgan, city council candidate

It can be a tricky balance; no one loves paying either taxes or user fees. I support the overall policy approach the city currently uses to balance them. We generally follow a user-pay philosophy, with some important exceptions. Our Access for All program ensures free access to recreational facilities and public transit for low-income families. We offer discounted rates for seniors and children, while adult rates are supposed to match the cost of operating the facility. For facilities that are significantly more expensive to operate but critical to community wellness and vibrancy, like the indoor ice rinks or the pool, we have been subsidizing rates a bit further to make sure people can still afford to use them, and I support that approach.

Dane Mason. city council candidate

It’s not an either/or issue. Tax revenue comes from two main things: the tax rate (mill rate) that the city sets for property classes, times the value of those properties. By encouraging development, we can increase the average property value, thereby increasing revenue for the city without raising the tax rate.

Something as simple as taxing abandoned lots more so they’re sold to developers, updating the secondary suites bylaw, and making a few changes to the development incentives program would make a cleaner, safer city and reduce the need to raise the tax rate as it would be marked to healthy growth rather than rate hikes.

Rebecca Alty, mayoral candidate

My goal is to keep both reasonable and within affordable reach of our residents.  I want to make sure that tax revenue is funding core services first and foremost.  There is also a need for the development of a long-term financial plan that will provide a financial path forward.

With user fees, I would like us to find efficiencies in our service delivery to keep them reasonable and make sure that we’re delivering services at the right level.  Acceptable service levels are those that meet the needs of most of our citizens.  When it comes to recreational facilities increasing the number of users (revenue) is in my opinion better than increasing the fee (which could actually lower revenue).

Chris Gillander, city council candidate

If user fees become too high we will discourage the use of facilities or services. This will cause a deficit in revenue that will in turn have to be made up. A price point must be found to maximize revenue from the user fees, and the remainder would inevitably be paid by taxes.  Setting prices too high or too low on user fees will ultimately cost tax payers more as it would create less income for the city and would lead to more taxation.

Terry Testart, city council candidate

Neither.

Josh Campbell, city council candidate

Neither. We need to open the books, stop putting the tax hike on our small business sector, and stop taxing our low income families. Most of the issues surrounding taxes falls on the federal government, who've failed to address our high cost of living in the North. And again the GNWT needs to fund the city adequately. Almost half of the territories population lives here. Per-capita funding needs to come from the GNWT coffers.

I would lobby for a zero percent tax increase for residents, and revisit the corporate/business mill rate. We must advocate for small business and create and environment that allows free market enterprise and entrepreneurs to start up. We have too many empty store fronts, and too many vacant stores in our malls.

Steve Payne, city council candidate

I’m not comfortable with either.

Are you comfortable with the size of city hall staff, increase, downsize or status quo?

City administration recently told council it needed an additional 13 full-time positions to function properly.

Niels Konge, city council candidate

Niels Konge: Councillor happy complaints policy at city now in the workStatus quo, but reorganizing to deliver our services more efficiently. Especially in permitting.

 

Robin Williams, city council candidate

Once elected, this council will be immediately diving into a budget vote. With multiple years of low taxation increases administration will most likely be asking council for increases to staffing and ultimately an increase in property tax.  I will have to look at this at a department by department level. Do I believe we need better enforcement in planning and lands, yes. Would I like to see more life guards at the pool as to not have more cancellations in classes, yes. But these are specific examples. A broad statement on staffing would be ill informed as each department has its own needs.

William Gomes, city council candidate

So far, no one has raised this issue during my door to door meeting with the citizens of Yellowknife. In my position as a new candidate, I do not have any information to express my opinion; therefore, no comments on this.

Bob Stewart, mayoral candidate

Kilt and Castle owner Bob Stewart has thrown his name into the hat to be the next mayor of Yellowknife. Sidney Cohen/NNSL photo

I would be able to better assess that once I have some time monitoring all of the operations.

Cynthia Mufandaedza, city council candidate

The staffing would have to be based on a recommendation by the SAO. I think retaining the current staff and providing constant training and staff development would allow the city to maximize its greatest asset, human capital.

Julian Morse, city council candidate

Status quo for the most part. I support increases where a need is identified -- such as additional firefighters in 2017 and '18. I would support restructuring to better align our resources with council priorities. I feel our economic development dept. is under-resourced; we need more staff working on strategic economic development initiatives -- however we may be able to achieve this by reallocating existing resources.

Rommel Silverio, city council candidate

I think that there should be a continuous review of staffing needs at the city hall to function in a way that is effective and efficient. For me, I go for status quo and reorganization if needed.

Jerald Sibbeston, mayoral candidate

Every dollar spent by the city was taken from a taxpayer. I will not forget that ever. I live frugally, built all my own signs and repaired them all, keep my costs down and make it by. I will bring that same frugality to city finances. We have been adding staff at a breakneck pace. We have averaged an incredible increase in staffing of 6.6 new full-time positions a year over the last few years. If you look back further, you will see a similar trend. We have lost control. I want to take that back and over the next nine or 12 years stop hiring and promote from within. This should help stop the city from needing to increase taxes or user fees. I intend on increasing our productivity as a city through boosting and taking more responsibility for promoting the tourism industry through creating a tourism department that will promote our amazing city.

Expanding the Frame Lake to Niven Drive bypass road and seeking to gain development approval from the Capital Area Commission to develop the area in between Frame lake and Jackfish Lake as mixed development area, including lakeside parkland will also be a top priority to improve rental affordability. If we make Yellowknife a cheaper tax jurisdiction over time we will grow, so will our tourism economy and our population and tax base. We have nowhere else to grow and that is the only land to grow into. It can be done aesthetically.

Mark Bogan, city council candidate

I have received great service at City Hall for over 30 years. My plan includes more jobs for our young adults by increasing public and recreational services for our children, youth and families.

Edwin Castillo, city council candidate

To me it’s not a matter of staff size, but ensuring the administration, services and programs are provided in the most efficient and effective way. We need to look at the budget to ensure we are being fair and fiscally responsible in respect of the staff salaries and wages. However, we are in an era of trying to do more with less or what is available it may be necessary to downsize; but, I would rather look at leveraging our capacity through sharing, reorganization and re-allocation of resources as opposed to cuts or out-sourcing.

Adrian Bell, mayoral candidate

City Hall has grown faster than Yellowknife’s population for quite some time. It’s not sustainable. We need to maintain status quo staffing levels, but re-allocate a couple of positions to match our strategic priorities. For example, we need to strengthen our economic development division, but this doesn’t mean we need an extra position at City Hall.

John Dalton, city council candidate

Without having more information it would not be fair to give an answer to that question. We all hear comments, but are they fair? The budget will give me the information for me to make an informed decision.

Stacie Smith, city council candidate

I have had many interactions with the city in my years of coaching as well as facilitating city events but without knowing the day to day operations and seeing it firsthand I cannot form a valid opinion on the staffing. As a business owner, I have worked with my own staff on what works best to ensure we are providing a product in a timely manner while creating impeccable designs. It was discovered during our busy season that by decreasing our staffing to the essentials, it improved customer satisfaction and staff efficiency as there was less confusion about each staff member's duties.

Shauna Morgan, city council candidate

To debate the overall number of staff positions, or to take a stance that is pro- or anti-staff, misses the point. Council needs to ensure we have the appropriate number of staff required to adequately deliver the services and programming we commit to provide, based on public input. If we build facilities, commit to meet new standards, or embark on new projects without adequate staff, then we are setting ourselves up to disappoint and frustrate the public, to create backlogs, and to burn out our existing staff.

To put things in perspective, the GNWT employs close to 6,000 people; whereas the City of Yellowknife employs approximately 230 people to serve close to half the population of the NWT. Throughout my time on council I have not seen a wasteful bureaucracy, but rather a very hard-working team of staff providing tangible services that support residents’ day-to-day lives—from ambulances to road repair to swimming lessons to library services to waste collection to celebrations/festivals; the list goes on. This is one of the many reasons I find it so rewarding to work with the city, it makes a real difference that people notice in their day-to-day lives.

Dane Mason, city council candidate

The environment the city operates in changes consistently, and so will city staff needs. The best way to deal with this is through only adding staff where it makes sense on a return on investment or social return on investment basis, and establishing hiring freezes on certain types of positions that become less relevant over time. Cross-training is a useful practice as well, in itself and as a way to ensure we can retain staff but reallocate their efforts to where the best gain is. Not up for laying anyone off.

One change I’d like to see is the creation of a new economic development division, instead of lumping it in with the communications function, where it is currently housed.

Rebecca Alty, mayoral candidate

To be able to answer this question we need something to base our decision on which is why I think that we need to develop service standard levels for city services.  Once standards are established, the city can evaluate whether staff resources are being properly deployed to meet the standards. For example, if council deems that a service is a high priority to the community, then we’ll need to evaluate to make sure it’s sufficiently staffed. On the flip-side, if we identify an area as a lower priority, we need to evaluate whether we have over-staffed that area. If that’s the case, it’s an opportunity to re-allocate resources.

Chris Gillander, city council candidate

Although cutting staff may seem like the quick and easy way to save money in the budget, employing Yellowknifers benefits the whole economy in Yellowknife.  Money flows through them as they spend within the community, benefiting our small business sector. Instead of cutting jobs, we should instead change any job descriptions that cause excessive overlap to better fit the needs of Yellowknifers.

Terry Testart, city council candidate

I believe that there has to be a review of staff numbers related to budget and adjust accordingly.

Josh Campbell, city council candidate

With the economy in troubled waters, the diamond mines nearing the last years of production, our capital city is in for tough times. We are facing an $11 million dollar shortage in funds from the GNWT. Until the territorial government and partners from MACA come to the table with some of those much needed funds, I would support a hiring freeze at City Hall. We need to minimize our spending, and get back to the basics: dogs, ditches and dumps.

Steve Payne, city council candidate

I don’t support increasing city staff. I would only support cutting positions if it were through employee attrition.

What is most lacking in city services?

City hall is responsible for a vast number of services to its citizens, whether it be fighting house fires, repairing leaky water lines or maintaining recreational facilities for residents to enjoy. 

Niels Konge, city council candidate

Niels Konge: Councillor happy complaints policy at city now in the workIn general doing what we do better and more efficiently.  Specifically I feel we need to expand our water and sewer infrastructure.

Robin Williams, city council candidate

As a newcomer to council and the broad debate over city policy, I don't feel 100% comfortable launching criticism against areas of the city where I may be lacking in knowledge or perspective.  It is my goal as a councillor to represent the needs of families and focus our policies on economic growth.

William Gomes, city council candidate

Transparency, lack of respect, lack of communication with the stakeholders including the general public and failing to address matters that have been put forward by the citizens of Yellowknife.

Bob Stewart, mayoral candidate

The garbage operations and all disposal services need to be seriously revamped.

Cynthia Mufandaedza, city council candidate

I feel a need to constantly review city services based on the changing population and continue to nurture a strong asset management policy.  I cannot speak to any lacking services at this time.

Julian Morse, city council candidate

I think we need to focus more on providing a positive experience for tourists and people navigating the city -- improved way-finding and interpretive signage in more languages. I think we could  improve our transit service to better reflect the needs of residents and increase ridership. I support incrementally expanding the city's trail network over time, such as extending the paved portion of Frame Lake Trail out to the Co-Op. The city should investigate options for increasing frequency of snow removal on sidewalks (and roads too) to increase accessibility. We need to streamline our permitting processes.

Rommel Silverio, city council candidate

I believe in continuous improvement of all existing services. The city should be more proactive in following service level standards so that residents will be more satisfied with the services it provides.

Jerald Sibbeston, mayoral candidate

The most lacking city service is a lack of an ombuds office/city court. Without a place for people to take their complaints, you end up in bad situations because there is no transparency or oversight of the council or bureaucracy. That means trades, business owners, the general public, or even an NGO or First Nation could make a case to the ombuds office.

The only question I have in reply would be: "In 2018, why is there no ombuds office/city court at City Hall?" It is unusual for a city of 20,000 people to have no such thing. I seek to correct this. This will fix every major issue at City Hall over the next decade. A "complaints policy" was released in the middle of an election campaign, and was roundly criticized by all I showed it to. I had a look, and it is not very conducive to you getting your day. It still leaves the SAO in charge of the final say. I feel if I don't win this election, nothing will ever change.

Mark Bogan, city council candidate

While it is the responsibility of a council person to ensure services such as water, roads and sewer, quality of life is an important consideration. We need a city council that is committed to inclusiveness and accessibility for all citizens. We need to hear from the elders, the indigenous community, youth, arts and tourism to hear their concerns and how they would like to see those concerns met.

Edwin Castillo, city council candidate

In general we need to continuously improve on the quality of services being delivered. There needs to be better communication for example on roadwork, events, snow and road cleaning, schedules, etc. on various media to properly inform Yellowknifers and enable them to plan in advance. In addition there needs to be performance measures and targets that residents can expect from the services delivered to them.

Adrian Bell, mayoral candidate

Our services for tourists are lacking, and we should look beyond a bricks-and-mortar visitors centre for the solution. I’m proposing that we establish a Downtown  Ambassador Program in 2019, funded by the new hotel levy. The ambassadors would be mobile visitor service workers, but they would also liaise with our street-involved population, directing them to services like the Street Outreach Services van when needed. And when necessary they would also work with the RCMP to ensure violent behaviour is curbed in our downtown.

John Dalton, city council candidate

Some departments do not have a positive service attitude. City Hall is there to provide service and help to those who need assistance. We should provide courteous, timely and helpful assistance and information so that individuals can achieve their goals if possible. There are departments that can improve in this area.

Stacie Smith, city council candidate

Where do I start with city services? There are many that are exemplary but there are also some that are lacking. At present we are struggling with the cost of living, money is very tight and it should be important for the city to be flexible in times of financial strife towards the use of its public facilities: swimming pool, fieldhouse and the multiplex. Our city pool is outdated and needs to be upgraded. If our city wants to bid on hosting a Canada or Arctic games we need to have facilities in place to support these opportunities. Enforcing loading zone violations, as a small business it can be difficult to transport product when parking is scarce and the loading zone is being monopolized by users that are not loading or unloading, merely using that space to park.

Shauna Morgan, city council candidate

I would like to see our curbside compost pick-up program expanded to condos and other multi-family complexes. There is a pilot program currently underway, and we plan to roll it out to all multi-family buildings in a few years, incorporating lessons learned.

There is much room for improvements to our public transit system, especially to make it more convenient and efficient. The city is looking into innovative models being used in comparably sized cities as there are several million dollars of federal funding currently earmarked for public transit in Yellowknife that could help us complete a major overhaul.

Our Access for All program, which provides free access to recreational facilities and public transit to low-income families, could be extended to include access to recreational programs such as swimming lessons.

Dane Mason, city council candidate

First Call Resolution. The basic idea is to deal with the customer the first time, so you don't double your efforts on a second call, triple them on a third, etc.

One main rule is you only do warm transfers (a warm transfer is when you call over to the next person, make sure they can answer the phone, and relay any pertinent information before transferring the customer and introducing them to the new representative).

This means two things: people don't have to repeat themselves several times on a call, so they're happier and easy to deal with, and they don't get their call dropped into a dead end, and have to call back and waste everyone's time, the city’s and their own, trying to get back to the place they were dropped off at.

Implementing a policy like this at City Hall would be an easy, and free, win for both City Hall and the rest of us.

Rebecca Alty, mayoral candidate

I see strategic planning and implementation as an area for improvement within the City. Our resources (staff and budget) can be used more efficiently or effectively if the current jumping from one fire to the next model is replaced with strategic thinking from Council. For Council to advance key community priorities and deliver effective programs and services at the right service level, we need to focus on improving our strategic planning and governance.

Chris Gillander, city council candidate

Access to information is the public service most lacking in Yellowknife.  I hope to open up transparency to citizens as well as make timelines and statuses for ongoing projects available to the public.

Terry Testart, city council candidate

Bussing is one service requiring improvement. There should be more routes with smaller, more efficient busses. The next, and just as important, is the city’s building permitting and inspection services. Builders constantly say Yellowknife is very difficult city to build in, which has a direct impact on housing costs and availability.

Josh Campbell, city council candidate

I think the city delivers a lot. The only area I see that is lacking or needs improvement is wheelchair accessibility.

I've also received a lot of complaints about dog poop. The third area is a better construction schedule for road maintenance. Franklin Avenue shouldn't shut down every summer. Other streets like Finlayson also need the city's attention.

 

Steve Payne, city council candidate

I think for a city this size we have great services. There are certainly some we could improve on but I don’t feel we are lacking.

Where do you stand on term lengths for mayor and council, three years or four?

City hall is proposing to increase mayoral and city council terms to four years from three.

Niels Konge, city council candidate

Niels Konge: Councillor happy complaints policy at city now in the work

3 years.

Robin Williams, city council candidate

I'm in support of 4 year terms for mayor and council. I think it's important for governments to be given time to implement their mandate from the people and for most governments in North America that term is usually 4 years. This change of policy seems reasonable to me.

William Gomes, city councillor

Shorter term and more elections cost more taxpayers money. Since the candidates are chosen by the citizens of our town, I am sure by casting their vote they choose the right person for the right time for the right reason. Therefore, I would like the same citizens to make that choice for their chosen one. I want the citizens of Yellowknife to share their opinions with me. I am to represent their voice, their values and their concerns to our council. So, I would like to act on their call.

Bob Stewart, mayoral candidate

I am OK with whatever the voters decide. However, shorter terms can limit the damage of poor leadership.

Cynthia Mufandaedza, city council candidate

A 4-year term would allow the Mayor and Council to develop and implement the comprehensive changes, sometimes controversial, that a growing city like Yellowknife requires.  Having four-year mayoral terms is clearly a step toward a longer-term planning strategy.

Julian Morse, city council candidate

This is a question which requires careful consideration by citizens. While 4-year terms have some advantages and have been widely adopted by municipalities across Canada, in my research on the subject, I have found several examples of municipalities which regretted extending term lengths. On the other hand, I have not found much evidence showing that 4-year terms actually achieve the advantages they are touted to. It seems that whether or not a 4-year term is advantageous can depend a lot on the dynamics of a particular council. I am also concerned 4-year terms could be a deterrent to potential candidates and to councillors who might seek a second term. For these reasons, I am ultimately in favour of maintaining 3-year terms. Of course, I will happily serve a 4-year term if re-elected and that is the choice of residents.

Rommel Silverio, city council candidate

Majority of Canadian cities have now moved into four-year term for mayor and council and I think Yellowknife is ready to take this move. Elections cost money; conducting an election every four years can result in some dollar savings. The best thing about having an election is that citizens have the power to elect leaders who they believe will best represent them in the council. That is why everybody should come out to vote and be heard.

Jerald Sibbeston, mayoral candidate

I specifically want to leave this up to the public. It is simply their choice. I will respect that choice if elected.

Mark Bogan, city council candidate

The current status quo of three years seems fine. I would prefer our voters decide this issue with a referendum.

Edwin Castillo, city council candidate

Arguments can be made for both terms; however I’m more inclined towards maintaining the 3 years since councillors and the mayor would be held more accountable towards voters for their decisions and actions.

Adrian Bell, mayoral candidate

We’re one of the few cities left in Canada with three-year terms, and there is a good reason others have made the switch - four year terms lead to more effective councils. They spend more of their time getting things done and less time either learning the ropes or electioneering.

John Dalton, city council candidate

If we have an effective council then a fourth year would be good. Generally the fourth year should give a council an opportunity to implement their major programs and policies.

Stacie Smith, city council candidate  

This is my first attempt at running for council. I am not able to speak on the pros and cons on the term length but I have heard from other councillors that a three year term was not enough time to see certain programs or bylaws pass through the municipal system.

Shauna Morgan, city council candidate

There are pros and cons to both, and I am prepared to serve either term length. I think there are more benefits to a four year term as it would allow councillors more time to get a handle on their job—which almost no one has prior training or experience in. Once councillors have time to understand the background history behind issues and how city facilities and programs are actually administered, we have a stronger basis for trying to improve them. Holding elections less often would also save city taxpayers money. And a four year term aligns with other levels of government.

Dane Mason, city council candidate

Not a hill I’d die on. The public will decide on October 15 and I’ll abide by that, as everyone will. Personally I like three, because it means we have to check in for a mandate more often so we stay relevant, but I see the argument of giving a new council more time to get up to speed.

Rebecca Alty, mayoral council

A four year term is my preference, for a few reasons: (1) More time in between elections can provide greater public certainty and stability of government; (2) It provides an extra year in the mandate to get things done before mayor and council begins focusing on re-election; (3) It will save money in the long term (2018’s election is budgeted at $94,000).

Chris Gillander, city council candidate

I would like to see the council term moved to a four-year term as a longer duration on council between elections will ensure councillors have more time to fulfill their mandates.  This will also decrease the long-term burden of election costs on taxpayers, who pay for the resources and manpower to administer the election.

Terry Testart, city council candidate

Three years.

Josh Campbell, city council candidate

Four, to line up with our other levels of government. I also think three years is not enough time for a municipal council to accomplish any capital project, or measure success of any programs or policies.

Steve Payne, city council candidate

It really doesn't matter to me, the voters will make that decision, I’m here to serve.

What are you going to do to ensure there is a proper tourism centre in Yellowknife?

Last year, the Northern Frontier Visitors’ Centre was shut down after the facility was deemed too unsafe to occupy.

Niels Konge, city council candidate

Niels Konge: Councillor happy complaints policy at city now in the work

I think that this is best delivered by a group or organization, similar to what it was in the past.  I feel it should be funded through the hotel levy, and be in the DT.  The city hall location would continue to work for me, with staff funding through the hotel levy and administered by some group.

Robin Williams, city council candidate

Tourism growth is vital for the continued economic growth of the city.  If elected I will work with my colleagues and administration to ensure the City takes firm control over our visitation responsibilities

William Gomes, city council candidate

The tourism industry in our city is thriving. In partnership with business owners, the territorial and federal government, our town has successfully attracted the larger number of tourists with revenue of $200M last year. Our hotel occupancy rate has gone up, including Air BNB and B&Bs than those previous years. To support this growth, I believe, we must include more knowledgeable front-line workforce through our hiring process, increase accessibility of more training resources for our business owners and other stakeholders, and provide a safer environment while the tourists are in our town exploring our cultural heritage and natural beauties. I want to ensure that a single tourist information center at the municipal level is meeting the needs in providing information to our guests.

Bob Stewart, mayoral candidate

I would be looking at opening a tourism centre either inside or adjacent to the museum.

Cynthia Mufandaedza, city council candidate

As tourism is key to our local economy, I believe in working closely in partnership with the GNWT and NWT Tourism.  Since many northern cities are fighting to grow tourism in their cities, Yellowknife needs to continue to offer great information and services to our tourists.

Julian Morse, city council candidate

Administration is currently preparing options for a governance model for a new visitors centre for council consideration. I expect this to come forward early in the new council's term, at which point we can move forward with issuing a request for proposals to operate a new visitor centre downtown. I am supportive of getting a new visitor centre in place as quickly as possible, while ensuring the new model meets the needs of our tourism industry.

Rommel Silverio, city council candidate

Tourism is a vital component of Yellowknife economy because it creates jobs and generates revenues for many local businesses. When tourists come to Yellowknife, they spend money here and local businesses will generate income which is good to our economy. A proper tourism centre in Yellowknife will help tourists plan their trip and get the best experience of Yellowknife. Currently, the temporary location of the visitor centre is in the large boardroom on the ground level of City Hall. I am glad to see that the city has stepped in to assume the role of a visitor centre so that there will be no gaps in service to our visitors year-round. I support the allocation of resources towards a proper visitor centre that is safe and accessible to the tourists with friendly, courteous and knowledgeable staff. The visitor centre will be the primary resource for maps, brochures for tours, and information of what to do in Yellowknife. The City’s Tourism Strategy includes the establishment of a Destination Marketing Organization but until then, the city should continue to provide visitor centre services to the tourists. The city should also continue to work with different sectors of government and local businesses to strengthen and bring in more creative ideas to boost the city’s tourism industry and navigate through finding short and long-term solutions to the challenges we are facing.

Jerald Sibbeston, mayoral candidate

I have had a meeting with the executive director of the NWT Tourism Association. She conveyed to me that they prefer the original location by the Prince of Wales Heritage Centre. She felt there was better parking availability, and it was in a central spot near the largest hotels. She told me that the current location was much too small. I agree with her on all points.

But I still would like to look at turning the lower floor of City Hall into a tourism centre and department. It is time for Yellowknife to take ownership over our economic future. If city employees and MED no longer parked in the large lot near the building (disabled spots excepted for any staff that require a spot near the building), we could accommodate more public and visitors. If MED alone is made smaller, the space will become available for expanding the visitors center. It should be examined as an option. I frequently see tourists taking pictures near our big Yellowknife sign. I think both could be viable choices given the right circumstances. I would in the end, listen to the advice of industry.

Mark Bogan, city council candidate

Tourism is essential for Yellowknife. My plan is to reach out to the federal and territorial government and build a proper tourism centre on the 50 – 50 lot.

Edwin Castillo, city council candidate

The Yellowknife tourism industry estimates the average contribution from visitors to the local economy at $250,000 a day, which translates to over $90 million a year. So the importance of having a proper tourism center cannot be stressed enough. Input from all key stakeholders is needed in this venture. This entails collaboration and partnerships with the all levels of governments from the federal, territorial, indigenous as well as the chamber of commerce, hotel businesses, travel agencies, etc. to ensure not only Yellowknifers but the NWT benefits in the best way possible in the short and long terms.

Adrian Bell, mayoral candidate

I would like to move forward with finding a private-sector or NGO partner to operate a visitors centre in the downtown for the next three years, but longer term we need to think bigger and consider combining several functions together in a multi-purpose building - perhaps including a cultural centre and privately-leased art studios. Tourists need things to do when they visit. Let’s put a bunch of those things under one roof in a great location.

John Dalton, city council candidate

The taxpayers of Yellowknife should not be on the hook for the development of a tourism centre. As the capital of the Northwest Territories, the principal responsibility should rest with the territorial government. In the past, community tourism centres in the regions received more funding for a part-time operation than Yellowknife for a full-time operation. Having said this, Yellowknife needs a full time stand alone centre. Council should be involved in the decision as to who will run the centre and could provide some base funding, either in-kind or funds.

Stacie Smith, city council candidate

Ensuring that a tourism centre is present in Yellowknife is not on the shoulders of one councillor, it is the decision of council as a team. As an up and coming tourist location, Yellowknife needs to have the proper facility to house a tourist centre. This means pushing to have this complete before the next term election cycle.

Shauna Morgan, city council candidate

We are already well on our way toward a new visitors’ centre, which will be located downtown and based on a partnership model with a well-positioned organization such as the Yk Chamber of Commerce. It will continue to be jointly funded by the GNWT and the City. This new streamlined approach was recommended by an independent expert who consulted stakeholders and presented a report to council this past summer. The centre will be designed so it can later accommodate the offices of a Destination Marketing Organization, to be funded by visitors themselves through the proposed accommodation levy, so that we can get more serious about growing our very promising tourism economy.

Dane Mason, city council candidate

Council unanimously approved a new strategy, including opening a downtown visitors centre, on August 13, 2018, so the questions isn’t if, it’s when. I’ll be in favour of making it happen ASAP.

In the meantime, there are plenty of other initiatives we can do for the tourism market. While the aurora brings people up here, the biggest driver for increased visitors is the stories travellers tell of their experience when they go home.

Focusing on cleaning up derelict and abandoned lots, ensuring that a variety of accommodations are encouraged in the city’s growth, and providing amenities such as increased WiFi zones and access to public washrooms will do this. I have included cost-neutral options for these in my platform.

Rebecca Alty, mayoral candidate

The first step is to identify a third-party operator for a re-launched Visitors Centre – with funding coming from the city and GNWT.  One of the focuses I’d like to see is an increased digital presence in relevant markets, and better data collection on visitors.  We can also work with our partners – CDETNO, Chamber of Commerce, GNWT ITI and the business community – to ensure we are offering quality tourism services in Yellowknife.

Chris Gillander, city council candidate

To ensure a proper tourism center in Yellowknife, the city must work in collaboration with the GNWT and federal government. I plan to lobby on behalf of the city and the local tourism industry to accomplish this. There has been talk of retaining the existing infrastructure but, if this cannot be accomplished we must make its replacement our priority.

Terry Testart, city council candidate

The city should be working with strategic partners to develop an appropriate tourism centre in the downtown core to serve the large number of tourists that visit the city. An ideal location for the tourism centre/conference centre may be in the Centre Square Mall.

 

 

Josh Campbell, city council candidate

I would suggest mayor and council re-engage the Northern Frontier Visitors Association, and find a new location for them to operate out of. Now that the GNWT has secured/fixed the old facility, perhaps ask what the feasibility is of the association moving back in. Also, I would engage our tourism operators and find out what is a better location for a visitors centre. I don't have a silver bullet solution, but I would definitely suggest we get a short list of locations from stakeholders, including our neighbours with the GNWT with the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Yellowknife really should be the gateway for our Asian market and Aurora tourists. We also need to have a place to share materials and promote our other NWT communities such as Deline, Fort Smith, Hay River, Inuvik and Tuk.

We should also have a satellite office/booth at the airport. As outlined in my platform extending the runway at YZF is a must to boost our tourism sector. With that, a tourism booth should be at the airport to support an influx of tourists flying into the capital region. The city should be a point of contact or liaison between the different stakeholders.

Steve Payne, city council candidate

We need to lobby the GNWT to increase funding for the visitor center. I think there is a way to make the tourism operators in Yellowknife come on as partners for lack of a better word to share in the operating cost of a new facility.