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Community weighs in on budget
Sidewalks and summer camp and ball fields, oh my

Jessica Davey-Quantick
Northern News Services
Wednesday, October 4, 2017

On Sept. 25, people had their first chance to chime in on where they think city council should put their money next year.

Several groups turned up to plead their case for a slice of the budget pie, including private citizens and organizations.

Below is a rundown of the residents' wishlist.

Tommy Forrest facelift

The Yellowknife Fastball Association asked the city for funds over the next three years to transform the Tommy Forrest Ball Park into a recreational complex.

Andrew Stewart, spokesperson for the association, told council that while progress has been made to revamp the facility, there is still more work to be done.

In the past, he said, the city had supplied funding to repair the park, originally built in the 1960s, with association members coming up with funds as well.

He asked the city for $60,000 a year for the next three years, to be matched by $140,000 each year from the YK Fastball Association to redesign the park to include green space, public washrooms, playgrounds and horseshoe pits. Stewart told council the association already has its portion of the money available thanks to fundraising efforts, but need the city's support to move forward.

"If we want playgrounds and green space, those things are expensive," Stewart told city council.

"We simply don't have the resources to make it happen."

Coun. Adrian Bell was supportive of the project, but pointed out council can't bind future councils to anything, so the deal would have to be proposed each year.

Helping the chicken cross the road

Kristen Luce Vivian presented a petition with around 500 signatures asking the city to install sidewalks on Borden Drive by Mary Brown's Famous Chicken & Taters.

"Roads should be improved not only for drivers but also for pedestrians," she said. "I think that it's important that all roads in Yellowknife, especially high-traffic roads, have at least one side of the street with a sidewalk or a paved route."

According to her research, it would cost around $250,000 to install sidewalks on both sides of the street.

Coun. Linda Bussey was impressed with her thorough research and the petition she presented.

"This support is amazing," she said.

Previously, Yellowknifer reported that sidewalks were already in the works for that part of the city. Dennis Kefalas, director of public works told Yellowknifer in August that it was just a matter of figuring out the cost and the timing to include it in the city's capital plan.

Northlands not just "poor neighbour"

Janet Dean, a representative of the YK Condo Corp 8, or Northlands Trailer Park, also had paving on her mind.

She specifically wants something done about the gravel roads through her neighbourhood.

"Northlands is really trying to re-establish its identity as more than just a trailer park," she told council.

A good place to start, she said, would be with paving and grading the roads, as well as maintenance and improvements on land owned by the city.

"There were two days this spring where the bus - public transit - was not able to go through the roads because the roads were so badly pitted," she said. "There was a week when taxis refused to come into certain areas of the park because the pot holes were so bad."

Mayor Heyck said paving for the area was projected for 2018 during the last round of budget deliberations.

"We're asking to be considered not the poor neighbour but to be a reasonable part of the city," said Dean.

Summer fun (and RFPs)

Denise McKee, executive director of the NWT Disabilities Council, made a request for council to not only approve funding for the Experience Summer Program, but establish an RFP process to make sure it all goes off without a hitch.

The program provides trained support workers to children with disabilities to attend a camp of their choice within Yellowknife. This year, the city allocated $25,000 in sole funding to the NWT Disabilities Council, but issues arose around the fairness of how the support services were procured.

She asked the city to budget between $25,000 and $30,000 in 2018 for the program.

"It is clear that through just the last five years the demand for this service has risen," said McKee, estimating there's been a 50-per-cent increase in the number of children using the program. But, she added, over the last three years, there have been approximately 1,000 hours of "unmet need" each summer.

She said currently the council uses $18,000 in grant funding to supplement city funds. She asked council to consider entering into a multi-year procurement agreement with the council, and increase the amount of funding to $45,000 to cover the costs.

Online survey launched

An online budget priorities survey also launched on Monday where people can weigh in.

The draft budget will be presented on Nov. 6.

The last opportunity for public input is set to happen Nov. 20.

Councillors are scheduled to undergo a final review of the budget in December.

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