A good tracker learns to read the signs. The leaves on the trees are starting to change colour and fall to the ground. So, fall is here, even though it doesn’t officially arrive until Sept. 22 this year. I guess because we live in the North, it unofficially arrives a little early. To me, fall starts when I can no longer comfortably wear shorts.
Also, the campaign signs are starting to pop up around town, so in case you didn’t know, that means a municipal election has officially started. It will be interesting to see who all is running and what issues they campaign on.
The signs could be a harbinger of fall, an election or cooler days to come. Of course, it could also signal all three and it gives you some idea of who was ready and prepared to run for council.
Since we are obviously into the campaigning, it will be interesting to see what issues develop. I am sure there will be several and many will have to do with the cost of living in the North, social issues and how the city does things.
Here is an example: In 2015, the city bought the lot on the corner of 50th avenue and 50th street, known as the 50-50 lot, for a reported $1.45 million. Using, of course, city money, which is ultimately taxpayers’ money. Since then, the lot has basically sat empty, except for a few parked cars now and then. So it has become a downtown hang-out and drinking-in public-spot.
Why they bought it, just to let it sit idle and unused, is a bit of a mystery. One idea they have never really explained, but I suspect it was to have a location to hand out medals and party for the Canada Winter Games. There was talk of turning it into a park with a fire pit and, believe it or not, public washrooms. Having downtown public washrooms was certainly a radical idea, although they did stipulate that it would have very small sinks, so homeless people didn’t try to wash their clothes there.
When the bid for the games fell through, apparently so did any thought of creating a park or the public washrooms. Now, the company that owns a large portion of the mall and the Northern Heights high-rise has offered to buy the land for one dollar. Yes, you heard that right: One. Dollar.
While the rest of us have to buy land at the going rate, and have been dealing with inflation and increased taxes, apparently real estate prices in the downtown core for this lot have deflated to such an extent that the $1.45 million lot has dropped to a single dollar. Wow. Now there is an election issue for the candidates to discuss.
Also, just to make things interesting, I will make this pledge that I am willing to pay the city $10 for the lot. That increases its value by 1,000 per cent. I might even be willing to go to $100 if the city is willing to give me a break on taxes. I will even promise to turn the lot into something nifty. I could start a GoFundMe campaign to install a washroom or at least put in a couple of port-a-potties.
That would make a good campaign slogan for one of the candidates: “Port-a-potties” for Downtown. Also considering all the choke cherry trees the city has planted all over town, a candidate could run on the platform to make “Yellowknife: The Choke Cherry Capital of North America”. Or they could promise to “Bring Salvaging Back”, since it is one way to reduce the cost of living in the North.
However, anyone willing to run for council deserves credit for putting their name forward in these times because the issues are complicated and the critics more than a little vocal. So, I say lighten up folks and give them a chance. They all deserve it.