City council approved spending $125,000 from the Downtown Improvement Reserve to move visitors information services from the basement of city hall to Centre Square Mall, during Monday’s regular meeting.
In December, council heard a presentation by Kerry Penney, director of economic development and strategy, that city administration was planning to move the services to a vacant spot in the mall.
The city is seeking supportive funding from the GNWT and the federal government. The municipality is also working with Slate Management, which manages a portion of the building.
Coun. Stacie Smith, who is also a downtown business owner, said that the move will be positive but that she believes others in the business community will need to get behind the idea.
“I think having the visitor centre (there) will draw people but (it) will take more than the Centre Square Mall’s involvement, and there will have to be other merchants to take part in that,” she said.
“Having that centre but not other merchants that want to be in downtown area,” will make the project a challenge, she said.
Last month, Smith asked for a progress report from city staff on the development of downtown revitalization but she was still waiting for an update as of earlier this week.
“I want to see how much progress was actually made and have the city be accountable for the projects that we would do with revitalization,” she said.
Drew Williams, assistant director of strategic communications with the GNWT Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, said this week that the territorial government remains supportive of the project and has committed $161,000 for help with operations.
“We’ve been working with the city throughout this planning and decision-making process,” Williams said. “In addition to providing improved services to tourists and our tourism industry, we believe it will contribute to the city’s revitalization of the downtown core and support business development in this area.”
Williams said the city has asked for additional funds to help with a move into the mall and that a possible arrangement is still being negotiated.
Flags and proclamations
City council officially passed its flags and proclamations policy during Monday’s regular meeting.
Early last year, the city asked city staff to develop a policy that would provide clearer guidelines on whether foreign flags should be raised at city hall, when flags should be flown at half-mast and in what circumstances official proclamations should be issued.
The four-page policy document includes changes such as prohibiting the flying of foreign national flags at city hall and that proclamation requests will no long be accepted.
The city has stated that the policy will be put on its website to provide residents with full details.