Food security strategy brought to the table

The Yellowknife Food Charter Coalition is asking the city to support the creation of a local food strategy.

The idea is to promote locally-sourced foods and sustainability, and support Yellowknife businesses, said presenters France Benoit and Tracey Williams. A food strategy would link various food sectors in Yellowknife – from production to distribution to waste – to meet these goals.

Sidney Cohen/NNSL photo
From left, Councillors Julian Morse, Linda Bussey, Mayor Mark Heyck and Coun. Adrian Bell listen to a presentation on the status of infrastructure projects in the city at Monday’s meeting of the Municipal Services Committee.

Benoit and Williams asked council on Tuesday for between $15,000 and $25,000 out of the 2018 budget, which they would leverage to get additional funds from the territorial and federal governments and non-government organizations.

They also asked council to designate a city staffer who would work, at least part time, with an advisory committee on the strategy.

The effects of a Yellowknife food strategy could ripple outward and work to reduce food insecurity in other Northwest Territories communities, said Benoit.

“Food is constantly being shipped from Yellowknife to the communities,” she said. “If we get our act together here in Yellowknife, it would do wonders for the rest of the Northwest Territories.”

The city could promote food security by providing lands for food production at a reduced tax rate, and by creating spaces, such as community gardens and a commercial kitchen, where independent food producers can pool their resources, said Williams and Benoit.

By the coalition’s count, 64 jurisdictions in Canada are developing food strategies, including Thunder Bay, Edmonton and the Yukon.

Williams said that a food strategy would bolster the city’s efforts to end homelessness and move toward zero waste.

“You have a number of strategies that you’re working on … that can all be joined together by working on food,” she said.

Borden Road to get paved, multi-use path

The city approved Tuesday the creation of a multi-use path on Borden Road from Old Airport Road to Jason Court.

Council voted unanimously in favour the asphalt path, which will cost an estimated $100,000.
There was some discussion at the evening council meeting about who should contribute to the costs of the path.

Coun. Adrian Bell suggested partially funding the path through a local improvement charge, because the path would be used primarily by neighbourhood residents.

He said that lots in this area were priced lower because there is no sidewalk.

For the city to fully fund the path, taxpayers would be financing “extra amenities” in the neighbourhood, after local residents benefited from a lower lot price, he told council.

“I’m not saying I wouldn’t be open to funding it 100 per cent from city coffers, but it’s definitely something I want to consider,” he said of the local improvement charge.

Coun. Steve Payne was against charging neighbourhood residents for paving the path.

“Is this something we normally do?” he asked. “Make the residents pay for their sidewalks?”

Mayor Mark Heyck said the city doesn’t normally charge residents for the sidewalk in front of their homes, but that it is “something we’re able to do.”

The length, width and completion date of the path will be determined after its approval in the 2018 budget.

Artists encourage city to create more public venues

Young people in Yellowknife want more venues to hang out at downtown, say organizers of the This City public art project.

For five years, the Yellowknife Artist Run Community Centre (ARCC) has hosted an artist residency where creators explore issues in Yellowknife.

This year, Toronto’s Crazy Dames collective – artist and educator Jennie Suddick and city planner Sara Udow – invited Yellowknife residents to collaborate on an art installation based on the question “what makes an inclusive city?”

Students from seven school groups participated in this year’s project, called “Building Together,” which took over the old BMO space in Centre Square Mall with a paper art installation.

The art process involved conversations with young people about city planning, said Udow.

The students who participated said they want more fun things to do downtown.

“They didn’t find a lot of spaces to engage with in the city,” said Udow. “They wanted more store options, more food options within the downtown core.”

The young people also cared about ending homelessness and celebrating nature in the city.

“We tend to talk about issues in an academic way,” Katie O’Beirne, an ARCC representative, told council.

“Art allows you to break it down a little bit, and it’s a low-risk, maybe more inviting way to talk, and also allows folks to express themselves if they don’t have the right words.”

ARCC has one year left on a three-year, $8,000 grant from Yellowknife for This City.

O’Beirne asked Tuesday for the city’s continued support for ARCC’s annual project.

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