EDITORIAL: Signage debacle not the Alamo

by Editorial Board - October 4, 2018

Mayoral candidate Jerald Sibbeston says he is being unfairly targeted.

His allegations of an anti-Sibbeston bias inside city hall led the mayoral candidate to claim that the Municipal Enforcement Division was selectively enforcing the signage bylaw by going after his election signs but not those of other candidates.

He claimed his campaign was being targeted by the city because of his anti-establishment election promises and his run-ins with municipal authorities, including his ejection from the Fieldhouse last fall for showering there without a pass – an event which apparently sparked his campaign.

Sibbeston is certainly an anti-establishment candidate.

In many ways he is like our Northern version of Davy Crockett, another anti-establishment candidate who represented the state of Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1827 to 1831.

Like Crockett, Sibbeston is known for his flamboyant oratory and everyman persona.

Crockett once said, “Whenever I had anything and saw a fellow being suffering, I was more anxious to relieve him than to benefit myself. And this is one of the true secrets of my being a poor man to this day.” Sibbeston likewise told Yellowknifer he doesn’t, “Roll in the dough.”

But his latest allegations against the city go too far.

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He can claim all he wants about how bylaw is out to get him but his election signs clearly violated the height restrictions outlined in the signage bylaw. His towered 3.66 metres (12 feet), while the bylaw states that a sign can be a maximum of 2.5 metres.

His claim that rival Adrian Bell’s signs also violated the signage bylaw is a stretch. One leg of Bell’s Twin Pine Hill sign was over the limit – by less than a foot.

MED is obligated to act – and quickly — if signs breach the bylaw. It’s a matter of public safety. Who is a liable should one of his signs topple over and hurt somebody? Almost certainly that would include the citizens of Yellowknife – the people Sibbeston aims to represent.

Davy Crockett once said, “Be always sure you are right — then go ahead.”

Sibbeston is not right on this one. He should forget about this issue and move forward with his campaign. This debacle should not be his Alamo.

Hat’s off to FOXY

Last week, we reported that a pilot study had found that a Northern program called Fostering Open eXpression among Youth (FOXY) has produced positive results.

Foxy is an arts-based sex-education program conceived in 2011 by Candice Lys to empower young women in the North.

The pilot study was published in the International Journal of STD and AIDS and examined Indigenous and Northern woman aged 13 to 17 from 17 communities in the NWT.

It found that the FOXY program effectively informed participants on the importance of safe sex and the dangers of sexually transmitted infections (STI).

While the prevalence of teen pregnancy and STIs have been steadily improving in the North, many studies suggest the numbers here are much higher than the national average. One 2016 Statistics Canada report found that STIs affected 18 times more people in the NWT than in the rest of Canada.

The pilot study’s results are encouraging and sexual health in the North should be a continuing priority.