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Tsiigehtchic to get community wildlife officer as animal concerns spike

Tsiigehtchic is expected to get its own wildlife officer by the end of October.

Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Robert C. McLeod. made the announcement on Sept. 26 in the legislative assembly, after Mackenzie Delta MLA Frederick Blake Jr. detailed a number of concerns about animals entering the community and alarming residents.

Deputy sergeant-at-arms Derek Edjericon leads Speaker Jackson Lafferty and others into the house on Sept. 26 at the legislative assembly.
Kirsten Fenn/NNSL photo

“Just last month, wolves came into town and attacked and killed two dogs,” said Blake Jr. “Fortunately, no people have been hurt, but residents are worried. Our wild visitors typically turn up in the early morning and in the evenings, when children are out walking, and it is harder to get a hold of an officer.”

Blake Jr. also wanted to know if hunters would be allowed to help take down bears in emergency situations, if it is done in a safe manner.

“If the community feels that there is a problem bear or one that is a threat to the community, they are able to take it down,” said McLeod. “It would have to be done in a safe manner.

“We would like to have our wildlife officers do it, but if they are not available and there is a threat, then they would be able to take the bear down.”

Minister evasive on Aurora College questions

Nahendeh MLA Shane Thompson still has concerns about Aurora College's future but he had trouble getting direct answers when he questioned the education minister Sept. 25 in the legislative assembly.

“I'm gravely concerned that the (teacher education) and the social work programs are in peril no matter what the review process or the outcome is,” said Thompson, referring to the two programs that were suspended earlier this year pending a review of the college.

“The minister has repeatedly stated that the programs have limited success but great expense and that they're not having the intended results.”

Thompson wanted to know when issues with the college's social work and teacher education programs were identified, but the education minister skirted around the question.

“We've gone through this discussion over time, at our last session as well, that decisions were made and we're moving forward in the best interests of students,” said Education, Culture and Employment Minister Alfred Moses.

“I think we've had this discussion long enough that decisions were made.”

Thompson prodded the minister further about what was done to address concerns about the two programs, but the MLA stated that he still didn't get an answer.

“Aurora College and the Department of Education, Culture and Employment continue to work together on a regular basis to review programs,” Moses responded. “I'm going to continue to do that work.”

On both Sept. 26 and 27, tension was high between Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh MLA Tom Beaulieu and the minister during discussions over small community employment programming.

Frame Lake MLA Kevin O'Reilly then expressed dissatisfaction with the minister's replies to questions on universal childcare when he raised the issue Sept. 27.

The minister did state he is committed to “improving the accessibility, affordability, and inclusivity of childcare in the Northwest Territories.”

He detailed some of the work that's been done around junior kindergarten, early childhood development and creating daycare facilities in some of the small communities.

Money could be lost in power generator “boondoggle”

Money spent on four new power generators that have failed to appear in the NWT may have to be written off.

That's according to justice minister Louis Sebert, who faced questions from Yellowknife North MLA Cory Vanthuyne on Sept. 27 in the legislative assembly.

“Clearly, Virdi Power would be responsible for these costs if they have breached the contract,” said Sebert. “Realistically speaking, it may be that that is not a likely option to recover our money.”

In 2015, the Northwest Territories Power Corporation contracted California company Virdi Power to deliver four generators at the cost of $2.5 million.

A $1 million deposit was paid to the company, but the generators never materialized.

“When are we going to actually cut this loose?” Yellowknife North MLA Cory Vanthuyne asked the minister. “When are we going to stop costing ratepayers and taxpayers more and more money every day on this particular boondoggle that has obviously gone off the rails?”

Backup equipment is currently being used and is costing residents, he said.

The justice minister said he does not want to cut the deal loose “unless there appears to be no hope at all of getting these generators.”

At that point, there would have to be an RFP for new generators, he said.