by David Connelly

Choose your mayor and councillors carefully. Your future in Yellowknife depends on them.

The Conference Board of Canada forecasts the NWT’s economy to shrink for most of the next 20 years – even with their rosy prediction of two mines opening within five years. We need to face hard facts and choose leaders with the vision and ability to reverse the decline.

Our population is stagnating, retiring and costing more to care for. Infrastructure needs replacement. Snap Lake closed. The diamond mine head offices have left. More cuts are coming which will also hurt over 150 local employers who supply and regulate the mines.

Dozens of Northern and Indigenous companies have and are: closing; moving their head offices south; leaving town all together or; such as Great Slave Helicopters, going into receivership. The cost of living, power, utilities, property taxes and fees keep rising. No matter how realtors protest: more houses are on the market, for longer and prices are declining.’

Politicians will say: “It is irresponsible to worry the electorate,” or “Our job is to keep the public feeling happy and secure.”

Yellowknifers should not accept pandering and neither do good leaders.

When the gold mines closed U-Hauls streamed south. Homes lost in bankruptcies sold at big discounts. Government gave anyone brave enough to buy a house $10,000!

By the end of this next council, according to Diavik, the closure of the next diamond mine will be staring us in the face – too late to steer Yellowknife to a soft landing. That awesome responsibility falls on the council you elect now!

Diversification, tourism and Giant Mine remediation offer limited hope. With unimaginable success, they cannot begin to replace one diamond mine. Even then, those jobs are often lower paying and seasonal. It takes 15 to 20 years to develop a mine and three-to-four new metal mines to replace the economic and employment contributions of one diamond mine.

Yellowknifers need a boldly different council. There is no time to waste embroiled in: petty politics; conflicts of interest; splash parks; and personnel issues. This council needs to rise to the challenge of addressing the social-economic tsunami about to wash over us from diamond mines closing.

Bold ideas exist: a northern university that revitalizes downtown and educates youth for northern careers; building a hydro transmission line to Yellowknife to reduce the cost of living and carbon emissions while making new mines economic in the North Slave; and collaborating with the airport to create a regional economic engine.

These ideas need mold-breaking big-thinking visionaries who will work with the GNWT.

A council that will leverage the fact that Yellowknifers are half the voters in the NWT. Who will push strategic initiatives with the GNWT that are good for the NWT; good for Yellowknife; and good for Yellowknife voters.

When the candidates ask for your vote, ask what they will do to protect you from the diamond mine closures?

You deserve more than sugar-coated hopeful platitudes.

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