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New city manager Stephen Van Dine says he hopes to make a difference

Take it from Stephen Van Dine, finding out you're Yellowknife's next city manager is more than email with some virtual confetti.
Consultant Stephen Van Dine recently authored a piece for the MacDonald-Laurier Institute think tank in Ottawa discussing China’s recent efforts in the Canadian Arctic. Photo courtesy of Stephen Van Dine

Finding out you're Yellowknife's next city manager is more than just an email with some virtual confetti. Just ask Stephen Van Dine.

"There's a number of things," he said. "You get a call from the mayor and then there's a plethora of emails with various details and things,"

Van Dine, a graduate of Sir John Frankin High School, is scheduled to start the role on Aug. 6, replacing Sheila Bassi-Kellett, who returned to the position on an interim basis after John Collin resigned less than one month in. Collin has since been hired to become the new city manager of Thunder Bay, Ont.

Van Dine said he was elated to hear the news about his new job.

"I was thinking about how I could give back," he said. "The idea of moving back to Yellowknife wasn't foreign to me. It's something I'd been entertaining and then looking for the right opportunity."

That opportunity came via Linkedin, Van Dine explained, which is where he saw the job opening. That dates all the way back to when Bassi-Kellett was first retiring, he said.

What drew him to the position was another chance to work in government, he added.

"It's where it all happens. You're right next to the decision-makers, you're right next to the citizens, you're right next to the team that you have to rely on to deliver," Van Dine said. "It's a dynamic space, it's a fascinating space and it's the territorial capital, so there are a lot of big, juicy, interesting issues that someone who's got my background could sink their teeth into and hopefully make a positive difference."

What a positive difference looks like? That'll take a conversation with Mayor Rebecca Alty and city council to find out what their priorities are first, said Van Dine.

Van Dine began his career in Inuvik as the first branch manager of the health insurance services office. He’s also been a part of what was then known as the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada regional office in Yellowknife in addition to his work with the Arctic Council, where he negotiated two Canada/United States Joint Statements on the Arctic.

He has also helped craft co-management legislation in Yukon, NWT and Nunavut along with working on Nutrition North Canada; helping with the establishment of Polar Knowledge Canada; and initiating the creation of Canada’s Arctic and Northern Policy Framework, among others.

Before he starts his new job, he needs to tie up some loose ends with his consultancy business, as well as find a new place to stay, he laughed.

For his future, Van Dine said he sees himself reintegrating with the city's community.

"I see myself curling in Yellowknife, I see myself cross-country skiing in Yellowknife, I see myself golfing in Yellowknife," he said. "I see myself working hard with mayor and council on some important issues and I'm really looking forward to it."

About the Author: Devon Tredinnick

Devon Tredinnick is a reporter for NNSL Media. Originally from Ottawa, he's also a recent journalism graduate from Carleton University.
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