The issue: heritage spending
We say: poor timing

There’s a time and place for everything.

On Monday, city council decided now is the time to spend up to $101,500 to spiffy up the Bristol Freighter plane monument at the corner of Old Airport Road and Highway 3. 

During a governance and priorities committee meeting, councillors agreed to allocate money to the Bristol Freighter painting project from the Heritage Fund, which has $186,000 left in it. The last time the now graffiti-covered monument got a paint job was in 1996. 

Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo
Council showed support for spending $100,000 on a repainting and maintenance upgrade of the Bristol Freighter Plane monument at the corner of Highway 3 and Old Airport during Monday’s governance and priorities committee meeting.

It was just a week earlier that council and administration hitched their wagon to a federal bailout due to Covid-19 wreaking havoc on municipal finances. 

The City of Yellowknife is bracing for up to $4.3 million in losses this year from a nosedive in user fees alone. 

As mentioned in a Yellowknifer editorial last week, we’re living at a time when cities across Canada are shedding staff, but our municipal leaders have chosen to retain all 214 full-time city employees.

Many southern centres have also decided to axe annual beautification initiatives because the cupboards are bare. Yet, in the NWT capital, a costly paint job is deemed to be worthwhile despite the brutal economic realities. 

The expense won’t necessarily stop at repainting the Bristol Freighter. Councillors and staff discussed the distinct possibility that the monument could be struck by vandals again at any time. Then talk turned to security measures and the idea of a security camera was warmly received. How much more money to purchase and operate that?

To be blunt, we don’t need to spend $100,000 on a paint job right now. It’s not like we’re expecting an influx of tourists this summer who will stop to admire the monument anyway.

It was just revealed on Tuesday that Ottawa is only planning to turn over $2.2 billion to Canada’s urban centres. It’s an advance on gas tax money that’s normally doled out in the fall. That’s a far cry from the $10-billion aid package that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities was requesting. So the bailout that the City of Yellowknife is hoping for may never arrive.  

Granted, the cost of repainting the Bristol Freighter won’t get cheaper in the coming years but neither will property taxes. Heritage projects certainly aren’t the priority right now.

Priorities, councillors. Priorities. 

 

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