Editorial page

Friday, December 7, 2001

Angela Fehr will be back

Yellowknifers should realize that we likely haven't seen the end of Angie Fehr.

Fehr had been approved for a home-based business licence to run Prestige Escort Entertainment from a house she was leasing in downtown Yellowknife. But after an outpouring of disgust from her downtown neighbours, she was forced out.

Turns out, the city reversed its decision on a technicality -- because Fehr wasn't currently living at the residence, she didn't qualify for the licence.

Yellowknifer contacted Fehr in Calgary on Thursday and she said she isn't giving up. She's not only considering appealing the city's decision, but is already looking around to find another location to run her business.

While we hold some sympathy for the neighbours of the proposed downtown location for Fehr's business, we question why they so adamantly oppose such a service in our city.

It's legal. It's a taxpaying business that many other Canadian cities have.

Then there's the fact that we already have something far worse happening in our streets.

Ernie Glowach, a bouncer at the Gold Range Hotel, told Yellowknifer this week teenage prostitution is a growing concern for the life-long Yellowknifer.

"There are 14- and 15-year-old girls selling themselves. Some are as young as 12," Glowach said.

We only have to go back four years to remember the horror that surfaced with the Wing Toon Lee sentencing -- he was jailed for the possession and manufacture of child pornography.

While we can't link escort services to prostitution we can point out the fact that appears to be a market for this kind of enterprise.

Wouldn't allowing a legally-run escort service that hires adults to "provide companionship" be better than some of the possible alternatives?

The student loan dilemma

Schooling doesn't come cheap. If you want quality education you must pay for it. Unfortunately, too many college and university students aren't living up to their responsibilities.

In the 2000-01 fiscal year, 12 NWT students defaulted on their loans to the amount of $114,531. From 1990 to 1996, 46,900 former students across the country declared bankruptcy on nearly $395 million.

This alarming trend is largely due to the fact that students' share of their schooling costs is rising faster than the cost of living. The average bachelor's degree in 1999 cost about $25,000, compared with $9,000 in 1990. This, too, is troubling.

In 1998, the federal government passed a law preventing students from avoiding their loan payments or provincial loans for 10 years. Ottawa also gave itself the option of withholding income tax refunds to pay them off. The territorial government could consider more options to get money from those who default.

Post-secondary education is essential these days, but assuming a loan is a choice that comes with legal responsibilities. That may mean working two jobs while finishing school or taking the bus for a few years instead of buying a new car.

Until the governments reverse their funding policies, it looks like students will learn a few hard lessons.

The kid shows his cards

Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News

The signing of the service contract for the Kivalliq regional health centre has, once again, sparked the flames of optimism in Rankin Inlet.

The signing, although not as important as a final development and lease agreement, is a significant step toward the long-awaited facility finally becoming a reality.

While we applaud the efforts of everyone involved with the service contract, we caution that there is still a ways to go.

In an interview this past week, Health Minister Ed Picco referred back to a Sept. 20, 2000 Kivalliq News editorial (No Ace up Rankin Sleeve).

In that editorial of 15 months ago, we compared the minister's ability to play his cards close to the vest to that of the Cincinnati Kid's -- the infamous gambler portrayed on the silver screen by Steve McQueen.

Picco was in Rankin at the time to bring the hamlet council up to date on the health centre situation.

In alluding to that editorial, Picco said his cards are now on the table for everyone to see as far as the Kivalliq regional health centre is concerned.

The main card of Picco's we're happy to see (as we mentioned in the same editorial) is that the health centre has moved in the direction of ultimately being owned by the Nunavut Government.

We didn't need an auditor's report 15 months ago to point out the Nunavut Government wanted to own, not lease, the facility.

Evidently, neither did Picco or Finance Minister Kelvin Ng.

There was another part of the Sept. 20, 2000, editorial in which we alluded to Ng still having an ace up his sleeve.

That's one card we're waiting to see sometime during the next 90 days.

Hopefully, that ace will protect the future of the Rankin facility should any of the players drop the ball during its development.

As enthusiastic over the service contract as we are, there has been little change at the site of the future health facility during the past 15 months.

The last time we checked, it was still an empty lot.

Our loonie is still on the Iqaluit project being completed ahead of the Kivalliq facility.

And, we still dare the health minister to call our bluff!

Plans blossoming

Editorial Comment
Malcolm Gorrill
Inuvik Drum

Plans to make the community of Inuvik more attractive for residents and visitors alike are reaching a new plateau.

A representative from Gibbs and Brown Landscape Architects Ltd. is visiting the town to present the final draft of the Community Revitalization Plan, which sets out a vision for the community for the next five years or so.

Members of the public will be able to hear about the plan, and comment on it, during a meeting Dec. 11.

Already plans are in the works for next year to perhaps redevelop Jim Koe park, and make a new gateway entrance.

It's taken many months and lots of effort by quite a few people to get to this point.

One significant step was taken in the spring of 2000 when the newly formed Community Beautification Committee came up with a simple but effective idea to make Inuvik more attractive -- namely, clean up its litter.

Hence the spring clean up was born, and was conducted again this year.

Lots of other projects have taken place this year, including improvements to the Mackenzie River waterfront and along the Boot Lake waterfront.

It's encouraging that many more projects will likely take place each of the next few years to spruce up the town. Such improvements will benefit all.

Role of volunteers acknowledged

It's fitting that during the International Year of the Volunteer, the important role they play would be acknowledged once again.

It was recently announced that Northwest Territories Power Corp. is becoming sole corporate sponsor for MACA's NWT Outstanding Volunteer Awards program.

The move is expected to boost the program. An official with the program pointed out that for 2001 about 100 nominations were received, more than ever before, and that they can now expect even more in 2002.

Volunteers play an important role within Delta communities. Their roles can vary from serving on the board of a non-profit organization, to helping out at social functions.

It can also be something as simple as shovelling out a neighbour's driveway.

Nominations for the 2002 NWT Outstanding Volunteer Awards program don't close until Feb. 28, but now would be a good time to start thinking about people to nominate.

It's also worth remembering that a simple "thank you" is appreciated by all volunteers, any time of the year.

A lesson in finances

Editorial Comment
Derek Neary
Deh Cho Drum, Fort Simpson

Last Tuesday's public education meeting had a sense of deja vu. Turn back the clock a few years and then Education Minister Michael Miltenberger was being grilled on the same issues -- inclusive schooling and pupil-teacher ratios.

It's hard to say when things will get better. Jake Ootes, the current minister of Education, came and went without making any promises to help Fort Simpson in particular. He's said he's trying to improve the system in general, and he kept citing the statistics to prove that the government is making headway.

Shane Thompson, chair of the Fort Simpson District Education Authority (DEA), said Fort Simpson is not seeing the benefits yet.

Thompson reminded Ootes that the regional Deh Cho pupil-teacher ratio is considerably lower than at Bompas elementary school. The regional figure encompasses communities like Kakisa, where there is one teacher and seven students, and Jean Marie River, where there are 16 students and two teachers, Thompson said. At Bompas, the pupil-teacher ratio jumps to 19.3:1. He said Bompas needs another teacher to significantly improve the pupil/teacher ratio.

Ootes said the same complaint exists at some schools in Yellowknife. Of note, one of Yellowknife's school boards has a massive deficit. The Deh Cho, on the other hand, has been fortunate (and wise) enough to be working with a substantial surplus. However, the Dehcho Education Council (DEC) has been generously doling out chunks of that surplus to help meet Fort Simpson's needs.

Let's hope the minister's course of action has a measurable impact in Fort Simpson before the Deh Cho Education Board's surplus runs dry. An ugly regional education crisis looms otherwise.

A more immediate problem may arise with student busing service. The DEA doesn't want to assume the contract from the DEC because it says the funding will be inadequate. The cost of that service will jump considerably if and when four more students from the subdivision need to use the bus. Then a second run or a second bus will be necessary. Where is that money going to come from?

Chamber watchdog

The Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce has assumed the role of consumer advocate, to some degree. By taking on issues such as gasoline prices and mail delivery, the chamber is not only working for the betterment of local business, but also for every citizen of Fort Simpson.

In some cases this might mean that local businesses are called upon to explain their practices and policies. That's fair enough.

Not in every instance will there be a wrong to be righted. Sometimes it's simply a matter of reaching a better understanding of the way things work and what variables affect goods and services. Either way, it doesn't hurt to ask questions.


A story headlined "Union calls for NWT to be declared Witte-free zone" in Wednesday's paper contained an error.

The Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board, not the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board, is considering an application from a company partly-owned by former Royal Oak Mines president Peggy Witte.

Also, in Rotary Ramblings, (Yellowknifer, Nov. 30) Don Kindt was misidentified. Kindt is a member of the Yellowknife Rotary Club.

Yellowknifer apologizes for these errors and any inconvenience they may have caused.