Approving the 2019 budget, setting a strategic plan, getting funding and developing an economic advisory council -- that's what Yellowknife's newest mayor hopes to do with her first 100 days in office.
Yellowknife has a new mayor for the first time in six years on as Rebecca Alty became the second woman in the history of the city to take the highest seat at City Hall. Alty will also be the first person to take the role for four years and will be the first mayor to have voting rights without losing the seat as chair of the council after a number of municipal bylaws were changed from the previous council.
Alty said that she has already begun laying the groundwork for the work to come over her first term as Mayor.
“We've done three councillor orientation now and now we got the budget today so really being able to get going and really looking forward to January which is when we want to start our strategic planning session,” said Alty shortly after being sworn in to her new position as mayor.
With the 2019 budget currently in front of council, Alty said that a number of initiatives she wants to get to work on will need to be approved before moving forward. She did note however, that it would be crucial to a start on preparing to apply for federal funding surrounding the city's poverty and homelessness strategy, a strategy that she supported on the campaign trail.
“We do have to act quickly because it is federal funding and it is first come, first serve basis and a lot of the bigger jurisdictions that we're competing for funding with, BC and Ontario they've got these staff able to kind of pump out the funding requests,” said Alty.
Once the time sensitive issues have been looked after Alty said she will begin to categorize all of the city's services, from obtaining a business license to swimming lesson wait lists. She hopes to then allow for the public to see how long those services should take to complete and adjusting the resources on each service accordingly.
“So you can see those standards and so then you go in and if it says that you can get a business license in a day and it takes you two days to get it then tracking that and reporting back and making those changes,” said Alty.
During her election campaign, Alty ran on the promise of bringing strategic partners to the table. She said that in the two weeks since she won the election, she has begun to set the groundwork to do just that.
“Met with each of the councillors and met with the chiefs of the YKDFN and the chief of Behchoko and minister Cochrane and then I've got a bunch of meetings set-up this week so really getting those introduction meetings,” said Alty. “Hearing what people's priorities are and when we align how we can work together better, which I think is important with our neighbors.”
Alty hopes to manifest those collaborations early in 2019 by establishing an economic advisory council, a group of key stakeholders that would look to advise council on ways to best address key upcoming issues such as bringing business back to the downtown core and how to address the forth coming closure of the territory's diamond mines.
Moving forward beyond the 100 day mark, Alty and council will need to move forward on a number of audit recommendations that came out of the previous council. An accessibility audit recommended close to $5-million worth of upgrades at city facilities while a study into the downtown 50/50 lot called for further consultations to be funded to further study how to retrofit the empty property. Alty said once the council has established their strategic plan they can work move to materialize the recommendations.
“A lot of those big studies with the economic development strategy and the 50/50 lot, but it's more like development of downtown, the accessibility audit, I think they'll be key parts in our strategic plan so be monitoring those that way,” said Alty.
Initial funding for both audits were addressed in the 2019 draft budget, but not yet approved. Council will deliberate the budget and approve a final draft in early December.