Robert Foote, a warehouse supervisor for the GNWT, tells of his motivation in making a run for city council.
Could you introduce yourself for anyone who may not know who you are?
“I was born in Yellowknife and have spent most of my life here. I moved to Leduc, Alta., in the mid-2000s and came back in early 2013. I am married to Meagan, and together we have two children — Finley at age seven and Owen at age four, who both are in school. I have a background in supply chain management in both the mining and healthcare sectors. I am a partsperson by trade and pursuing additional education in business and management foundations, while completing a professional designation in supply chain management.”
What do you hope to change if you’re elected?
“I want to effect positive change in the things that matter to all of us. It isn’t necessarily the big capital purchases like the pool or the polytechnic, it is the little things that we all live with and experience on a daily basis. I want to collaborate with my peers, finding solutions to address the ever-increasing cost of living. I want to help residents make an investment in renewable energy without having to access means of personal credit and above-prime interest rates to finance something that benefits the environment. I’d also like to see municipal enforcement take a bigger role in helping with property crimes that have been plaguing the city of late.”
Could you share your vision regarding the people of Wiliideh?
“I feel that there is a great opportunity for collaboration with the people of Wiliideh. Whether it be through their economic development arm or through meaningful engagement on any proposed developments that affect the residents of Ndilo an Dettah, directly or indirectly, I am compelled to say that they deserve to be consulted. I would also like to find a way to honour the people of Wiliideh in a tribute to their way of life prior to permanent outside settlement in the area. Much of the original landscape and health of the land has been altered by the abhorrent mining practices of the 20th century. Don’t get me wrong, I am an advocate for responsible resource development, but the legacy of Giant Mine shows that the cheapest methods are never the best — and ultimately the people of Wiliideh are left with the externalities from this while the (corporate) beneficiaries have long since left.”
How do you propose to remedy the current housing issue as well as the cost of living?
“Unfortunately, when Northview’s predecessors began buying much of the available rental units in Yellowknife, the rental market was affected in such a negative way that left very little recourse for short-term corrective actions. Since Northview has a near monopoly, they have the power to set market price and all of the smaller lessors were able to follow suit. The situation was compounded when many units were lost to fire, and when recent builds prioritized saleable homes rather than rental properties. The outcome of this perfect storm is a near zero vacancy rate for units that not everyone can even afford to rent when they become available. Keeping all of this in mind, there is no quick fix to the housing issue or the cost of living.”
Could you talk about transparency regarding Yellowknife’s operational costs? Why do you feel that it’s important?
“I think people feel it is important to know where their tax remittance is going, particularly after a pretty substantial property tax hike. This of course is keeping in mind that not every citizen is fluent in reading financial statements. Many people are under the assumption that the hike is funding pool construction, which I am sure part of it is, but as a resident I am also concerned about inflationary operational costs. Is the city doing everything it can in its power to help alleviate some of that pressure? I think it’s disingenuous to assert that we’re all under the same inflationary pressures; therefore, we need to pass the cost on to the consumer (or resident). Large entities have mechanisms to achieve costs savings and create efficiencies, where the consumer (or resident) doesn’t. As an outsider looking in, I could be totally offside with my assertion here, but it still begs the question on whether council and administration is doing their best to divert costs to residents.”