Adrian Bell forecasts tough economic times for the Northwest Territories, but says he is the candidate to ensure Yellowknife weathers the storm.
With the diamond mines set to wind down over the next decade and a half, said the mayoral candidate, Yellowknife will need to boost other sectors of the economy in order to survive and thrive.
And he has ideas for how to do this.
One is to encourage privately-run “innovation centres” – co-working spaces in which users share offices, tools and ideas.
Bell pointed to two examples in Whitehorse: the tools-and-trades focused YuKonnostruct, where members share 3D printers, laser cutters and expertise, and the tech-centred (co)space, in which entrepreneurs, students and start-up teams work out of a shared office.
Bell is also in favour of transforming of Aurora College into a polytechnic university headquartered in Yellowknife, and boosting tourism through supporting arts and culture festivals and opening a proper visitors’ centre.
Like his competitor Rebecca Alty, Bell has spent two terms on council and about 35 years in Yellowknife.
But the mayoral hopeful maintains that he and Alty have very different political styles.
“I believe that council should guide the direction of city hall, and my approach to that has been to bring forward motions and lead initiatives, rather than waiting for administration to bring proposals forward,” he said.
“I’ve been a very active councillor and that’s definitely a point of differentiation.”
According to his website, Bell has led 25 motions in his six years on council.
Notably, Bell tabled the motion directing the city to launch an independent inquiry into workplace misconduct at the Municipal Enforcement Division.
He also spearheaded the employment program, funded with change from city parking metres, in which people experiencing homelessness collect trash for cash.
“For readers who are comparing track records, they’ll see a difference in style, and I believe these times call for an active style,” said Bell.
A real estate broker and owner of Century 21 Prospect Realty, Bell believes a healthy community is one in which people want to spend their entire lives.
“It’s a community where youth can envision staying here and making their careers here, and where seniors can afford to retire here, and where all cultures are supported and all members of the community feel included,” he said.
The way to get there, Bell continued, is to reduce the cost of living, diversify the economy and work closely with neighbours in Dettah, Ndilo and Behchoko and cultural leaders in Yellowknife.