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CITY COUNCIL BRIEFS: Zoning bylaw behind schedule

City Hall_2020_cmyk

City staff are still working to complete a draft zoning bylaw that was expected to be ready for review by now.

Last September, the planning and development division presented a schedule to replace the existing 12-year old zoning bylaw. City staff say the document is outdated and cumbersome due to up to 80 amendments attached to it.

City hall is currently drafting a new zoning bylaw. The monumental legislation will more clearly assist development over at least the next decade.
NNSL file photo

The plan had been to have a draft bylaw before council tentatively by February or March.

“We are a little bit behind and it is more because we did get a lot of great feedback from our consultation process in the fall and early winter,” said Mayor Rebecca Alty.

“Staff are now working to incorporate those recommendations into the draft bylaw.”

Each municipal division and department have to provide input on how the zoning bylaw is shaped. The document covers areas as diverse as agricultural land use, short-term rentals, and cannabis. Many of those aspects didn't appear in the 2008 document meaning the bylaw has to be modernized, too, Alty said.

The mayor said she expects the draft zoning bylaw to be revealed to residents through the city’s website and social media in the near future.

After an expected one-month public review process, the document will come to the city’s governance and priorities committee. At a later date it will receive a council vote.

A statutory public hearing will give residents a chance to address the proposed legislation.

CanNor grants funding for mall visitors centre

The City of Yellowknife received a $400,000 federal grant to advance its efforts to move a visitors information centre to Centre Square Mall.

The municipality applied for assistance from the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) last October. The funds were approved March 15 with the condition that it be spent by March 31.

The City of Yellowknife was successful in obtaining a 400,000 CanNor grant to move visitor's information services into the lower half of Centre Square Mall. Once open, the visitor's will allow for the city to reopen the 50 Street access site of the mall which has been closed for more than a decade.
Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

“We are now looking to put out a request for proposals for designing the space," said Mayor Rebecca Alty. "Then with the design we will be able to get somebody to complete that vision. We hope to open the doors probably at the tail end of this year.”

In 2017, the Northern Frontier Visitors Centre was shuttered due to the building being structurally unsafe. Information services for travellers and newcomers were eventually moved to the basement of city hall.

Last January, the city presented a plan to move those services to the former Bank of Montreal site in the lower half of Centre Square Mall.

The federal support comes in addition to $161,000 from the GNWT Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment. There is also $125,000 committed from the city’s downtown improvement reserve.

Alty said an operating model is expected to be developed in the summer or early fall.

The upside to the project is expected to include the reopening of the 50 Street access to Centre Square Mall. Access from that street has been closed to the public for over a decade.

Other benefits will be the development of a non-commercial art space and the city hall basement boardroom being available to municipal staff again, she added.

Rapid housing bid rejected

The City of Yellowknife is not planning to actively revive its federal Rapid Housing Initiative plans. However staff will be watching the April 19 federal budget for additional housing funds.

The city submitted two applications for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) program last December.

One plan was to convert 30 units at the Slave Lake Inn to accommodate adults experiencing homelessness. The other was to a renovate Aspen Apartments to help the city's vulnerable population.

Both applications were rejected earlier this month.

“We will keep our eyes peeled if there is a Rapid Housing Initiative 2.0 and maybe reapply then, but we are not actively looking to apply,” said Mayor Rebecca Alty.

Other city-based organizations that applied for the same funding and who were rejected are expected to seek financial aid through the CMHC's National Co-investment Fund general stream.

Fire division changes in effect

The City of Yellowknife Fire Division stopped serving fire-related emergencies outside of city limits as of April 1.

A news release from the municipality stated that as of last Thursday, fires that occur beyond the boundary will not get a response from the city in most cases.

Last September, council approved a motion that would limit fire service to within the municipality.

YKFD will continue to assist the GNWT, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR), as outlined in a long-standing memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the city and ENR,” stated Alison Harrower, media spokesperson for the city.

The MOU stipulates that the city will respond to structural fires to the extent that resources are available. However, this will only take place when ENR determines a risk of spreading to the wildland during forest fire season and when a request is made for the city’s involvement.

"The city will also continue to provide service to Dettah under a separate agreement.”

Emergency medical services and vehicle rescue will continue to be provided outside of Yellowknife.