Editorial page

Monday, February 07, 2000

Alternative vision

An interesting feature of the so-called "alternative budget" presented by a coalition of social activism groups is recognition that industry is part of the solution.

Among other things, the budget proposes a Northern Heritage fund to finance infrastructure development and community-based business in the three Northern territories. The money would come from the estimated $500 million per year resource royalties generated by diamonds, oil and gas development.

The coalition wants any federal surpluses spent on social programs, not the rich through tax cuts.

Acknowledging the role industry plays in achieving the vision of a healthy caring country makes the connection between free enterprise and social responsibility, two Canadian ideals.

Planter's punch

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but the City of Yellowknife is laying down a few rules in case anybody comes up short-sighted.

City council has before it a bylaw that, if passed, will enforce the planting of trees on newly developed properties.

While civil libertarians may rattle their sabres over the encroachment of government on their rights, let's keep in mind the rights of their neighbours not to live next to an eyesore.

The bylaw will also prevent developers from leaving ecological wastelands in their wake.

A city development officer will be the arbiter of the new landscape laws. He or she will entertain appeals, listen to excuses and grant extensions.

The principle isn't a bad one, but the bylaw's effectiveness will be in a flexible application.

Cost of contract glitch unclear

A year-long dispute between Yellowknife teachers and Education District 1 may be resolved, but questions remain unanswered.

At issue are deductions made by the district starting Jan. 15, 1999 to claw back vacation travel assistance and other payments made to teachers, retroactive to September 1997.

The NWT Teachers' Association fought the clawback, saying the education authority failed to go through the NWTTA, bargaining agent for Yellowknife teachers.

The issue wasn't resolved until the end of last month when the public school board agreed to pay back the money.

It is important that the issue is resolved and the district and its teachers can focus their attention on the top priority -- educating our children.

What's also important is that parents and taxpayers know what the agreement means.

Key is whether or not the deductions were held in trust or simply put into general revenue. If the money was held in trust, repayment is unlikely to cause any problems. If it was put into general revenue and spent on services, how much has to come back out of the budget and what will that impact be?

School district officials and teachers are tight-lipped about the agreement and have declined to explain how much is to be paid back and from where that money is to come.

That's unfortunate because we as taxpayers and electors have a right to know how and why decisions are being made by elected officials. It's called accountability.

If we're faced with cutbacks because of the agreement, we all must wonder if the school trustees were too hasty in accepting an agreement meant to resolve "a lack of communication between the two parties."

That lack of communication seems to continue, only now between the school board and the people it represents.

Athletes need solid support
Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News

It is good to see a growing number of people across the Kivalliq upgrading their coaching and refereeing skills.

Certified referees not only help improve the skill factor in the sport they officiate, but also cut down on frustration levels often leading to unsportsmanlike conduct.

There are many under the false impression that losing is the number one contributor to athlete frustration and aggressive behaviour on the playing field.

In fact, the biggest contributor to such behaviour is often a lack of consistency in the way the sport is officiated.

And, consistency is the key element in the referee certification program.

As former referee in chief Tom Thompson points out, it is especially tough being a referee in small towns and hamlets where everyone knows each other.

That intimidating factor is the prime reason behind a 50 per cent attrition rate which sees half of all new referees quit after their first season dressed in stripes.

We need more certified referees in the Kivalliq to provide a level playing field so athletes can remain focused on the sport, not the officiating.

Just as important to our region is having a good number of certified coaches behind the efforts of our athletes.

This is especially true in the all-important early development stages.

Athletes must be able to master the technical skills of their chosen sport in an educational, challenging and, most importantly, fun environment.

In order for any athlete to excel, they need the will to progress and a solid coach behind them who understands the intricacies of their sport.

These are especially important factors in today's social climate where education dollars are at a premium.

Students combining strong academic and athletic skills have a better opportunity to attract scholarship dollars which can pay half to all of their tuition at reputable colleges and universities in Canada and the U.S.

Those who give of their time to coach and referee local sports are making a valuable contribution to their community.

A point which should be respected by athletes, fans and parents alike when attending local sporting events.

More respect for coaches and referees in our communities is a solid investment in future sporting programs in our region and the further development of our young athletes.

The right path in the beginning, can often lead to success in the end.