Friday, March 28, 1997

If the price is right...

Of course the City of Yellowknife should buy Northland Utilities Ltd., if that means real savings to the city's residents.

But some of what we've heard so far -- potential savings, $250,000 in court costs, accusations of a power grab and invalid process -- has us wondering just whether or not the city knows what it's getting into.

Theoretically, cutting out the middleman -- the power distributors who purchase power from one entity (Northwest Territories Power Corporation) and then sell it to another (the consumers of Yellowknife) -- would, if done properly, make for a more efficient service.

Savings of between 3.5 and 6.5 per cent would be seen at the distribution level, according to a study done by the Power Corp. Surely those savings would in turn be passed on to the consumer at a slightly lower rate.

And if that was the scenario, 100 per cent guaranteed, not a single person would be questioning a move by the city to take over Northland.

However, with the city not even sure that a takeover is possible and already spending tens of thousands of dollars to study the options, we're not sure if this isn't -- as Northland shareholder Jack Walker phrased it -- a power grab or empire-building.

What has us even more nervous is Northland officials saying that an independent appraisal of its assets that came in at $15.7 million underestimated the actual value as much as $6 million, which means someone's figures are way out of whack.

If city hall is going to purchase Northland for the good of the residents, then fine, go right ahead.

But if the city and the power corporation just want to cut out the middleman for the sake of gaining more direct control, then they should drop the ball now, before any more money is spent.

Justice welcomed

In sentencing Michael Jones to serve 27 months in a penitentiary last week, Justice Ted Richard sent a message that the courts are prepared to get tough with men who terrorize women.

The message is welcome. The woman was forced to leave Yellowknife fearing for her life, her property was badly damaged, twice, and her clothes were stained and cut up. All this by a man who was violating the terms of his bail.

A jail sentence can't begin to compensate the victim, but she might be able to take steps to put her life back together, free from the threat of torment. It's the kind of freedom a civilized society strives for. It is reassuring that the courts see it that way, too.

Respecting pets

Every now and then a new species of bird, mammal or reptile captures the public's fancy. Ferrets are a good example of a passing pet fad, and Dalmatian dogs enjoy peaks of popularity every time Disney recycles the story about 101 of them.

Hedgehogs appear to be the latest pet trend to hit Yellowknife. They're cute and offer some attractive characteristics. But before you rush out and get one, consider that many a family quickly tires of a non-traditional pet.

There's a good reason run-of-the-mill domestic cats and dogs remain the most popular: they have been bred for the job for thousands of generations. So if you do want something different, choose carefully.