NEWS BRIEFS: Dane Mason announces council run

NNSL- August 4, 2018

Dane Mason is the latest person to announce his candidacy for the upcoming municipal election. Mason is a public-sector policy and strategic planning manager, with stints as senior advisor to two deputy ministers in the legislative assembly.

In an interview with Yellowknifer, Mason said he hopes to bring his policy background to city council and advocate for better transparency on policy.

Public washroom access is also a key priority, he said.

“People have a right to a washroom,” but the city’s current incentive of $500 is not enough to encourage businesses to open their restrooms to the public, he said.

Mason proposes upping the incentive to $5,000, about $1.15 per year per Yellowknifer, rather than build a publicly-run facility.

He proposes changing municipal tax law on vacant lots to disincentivize lot owners, including the city itself, from leaving properties vacant or derelict while they increase in value.

Such a tax, also instituted in cities like Edmonton, will encourage development by taxing properties at their prospective value and tax abandoned commercial properties at a higher rate, he said.

Further tax changes to address ineffective tax credits will bolster higher-density developments, he said.

As it stands, developers face an unclear tax policy that offers a five-year property tax exemption on units they plan to sell off within the first year, he said.

Mason also proposes a centralized policy database for programs and accountability rules, including what limitations there are for private council meetings, he said.

Mason has lived in Yellowknife for 12 years. Previously, he studied public administration and management leadership at University of Victoria and University of Alberta, respectively.

– Avery Zingel

 

Abandoned building fire investigated

A blaze that broke out inside an abandoned downtown building Tuesday night is being investigated by the territory’s fire marshal.

After noticing flames inside the building at 5117 51 St. – formerly home to Diamond Cabs – a witness reported the blaze to Yellowknife Fire Division around 10:30 p.m., stated a news release from the city.

A fire in the building’s front room was extinguished. There were no reports of injuries.

The fire marks the second blaze at an abandoned city building in as many months.

– Brendan Burke

 

Health and social services ministers meet

In advance of the meeting in Halifax late last month of provincial and territorial ministers responsible for social services, health and social services ministers from Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut met to discuss key areas of strategic collaboration to improve outcomes in health and social services across the North.

The ministers discussed ways to strengthen working relationships between the territories, and looked at developing common approaches to Northern health and social services initiatives.

“I am pleased to work with our territorial government partners to examine how we can improve health and social services outcomes for NWT residents,” stated NWT Health and Social Services Minister Glen Abernethy.

– James O’Connor