City council unanimously approved a new three-year collective agreement for City of Yellowknife staff during Monday night’s regular meeting.
The deal between the municipality and Public Service Alliance of Canada Local X0345, representing about 200 city staff, is retroactive and runs until Dec. 31, 2021.
The parties ratified the addition of domestic violence leave, deferred salary leave, enhanced support for mental health and greater flexibility with vacation travel time, according to Slavica Jovic, deputy city clerk.
Jovic stated that staff can also get bereavement leave for an expanded list of family members.
The deal amounts to about a five per cent salary increase for city workers over the three years.
Jack Bourassa, regional vice-president with the Public Service Alliance of Canada North said on Tuesday that city employees were happy with the result of the deal, particularly with quality of life benefits and addressing cost of living.
“I think there has been a push nationwide for a lot of women who are on the nasty end of the stick and facing domestic violence because it can follow the employer right into the workplace when they are fleeing,” he said. He noted that in cases where victims need to talk with councillors, there needs to be time and salary support provided.
Governance Priorities Committee goes silent
Monday’s Governance Priorities Committee meeting at noon saw technical difficulties that led to sound not coming though until about halfway through the meeting. About 20 minutes into RCMP Insp. Alex Laporte’s monthly report to council, the meeting finally became audible.
The subsequent recording of the meeting posted on the city’s website later in the day is consequently lacking sound for half the event.
The city works with the company Swag It to run the livestream and post videos to its website afterward. The city reported there were computer technicalities with issues of freezing and network connection interruptions.
“The minutes of (Monday’s Governance Priorities Committee) meeting will be published on the city’s website in August,” stated Alison Harrower, media spokesperson for the city.
Insp. Laporte to move to Ottawa
Yellowknife RCMP detachment commander Insp. Alex Laporte announced that Monday was his last monthly report to council as he will soon be leaving for national headquarters in Ottawa.
Laporte is the fourth detachment commander to move on over the last decade as he follows Insp. Matt Peggs (August 2015-February 2018); Insp. Frank Gallagher (April 2013-February 2015); and Insp. David Elliott (November 2009-October 2012).
Laporte told councillors that he first arrived in Yellowknife 12 years ago as a newlywed and will be leaving in mid-August with a family of four that now includes two children. He has been detachment commander since February 2018.
“I think a lot of times people may not be aware that as a council we have opportunities to touch base and collaborate with the RCMP,” said Coun. Robin Williams. “Alex has done a great job of being a bridge between the municipal government and RCMP…”
City allows for water cremation
Council unanimously approved amending the legal definition of a funeral home in the city’s zoning bylaw to allow for a water-based cremation, also known as alkaline hydrolysis. A statutory public hearing was held Monday night with proponents Janice McKenna, funeral director and owner of McKenna Funeral Home, as well as chemist Dr. Kathy Racher, as the only ones speaking to the change.
The meeting stemmed from the June 15 governance priorities committee meeting when McKenna requested the ability to use water and alkaline as an alternative method to flame-based cremation.
“A machine uses water and alkaline to accelerate the body’s decomposition over a period of hours,” McKenna said. “What remains is the bone which becomes the ash which we call cremated remains.”
Daycare tax exemption denied
City council voted to deny a proposal by the Yellowknife Day Care Association who earlier this year sought a property tax exemption.
The issue had come from the July 13 governance priorities committee meeting, where council was split on whether to support or deny the exemption.
Councillors Niels Konge, Stacie Smith, Steve Payne and Cynthia Mufandaedza denied the tax exemption.
Mayor Rebecca Alty, and councillors Shauna Morgan and Rommel Silverio were in favour of granting it.
Coun. Julian Morse was absent. Coun. Robin Williams declared a conflict and didn’t vote.