Go back

Friday, March 11, 2005
Opportunity rising from the ashes

A burning building isn't the best way to achieve the city's goal of waterfront development, but sometimes good can come from bad.

Old Town residents realized as much watching the demolition of the recently destroyed fisheries department warehouse on McDonald Drive.

Ideally located on the shores of Yellowknife Bay, the now vacant lot presents a wide range of opportunities: kayak/canoe launch, skating/ski shack, outdoor performance area, a community garden plot or a fish mongering/weekend public market were suggestions put forward by neighbourhood residents.

We favour all of those suggestions if public access is the guiding principle. The residents intend to begin lobbying political and business decision makers, which is a very good start.

We cannot imagine any reasonable objections and city council should be especially supportive, considering the resistance met with other waterfront development proposals in the past.

The land is owned by the federal government, which is good news as that means it belongs to Canadians.

The sooner the department receives a formal request from city hall, the better.

Jail time too expensive

What's worse than getting 27 parking tickets? Getting thrown in jail for not paying 22 of them.

That was the situation a Yellowknife woman faced recently. City bylaw officers showed up at her door with a warrant for her arrest (Yellowknifer, March 2, 2005).

Thanks to a last minute loan from a friend - she had an hour to pay $300 in fines - the woman was able to avoid jail. While we agree jail time is a case of the punishment being too harsh for the crime, we also agree with the bylaw enforcement manager's comment: "If there was not an end consequence, the program would fall apart."

What makes more sense is the Canada-wide system where parking ticket offenders find their driving privileges suspended when they go to renew their driver's licence.

While it is a more civilized approach, it also removes the time consuming tasks of home visits by bylaw officers, arrest warrants and jail sentences.

These consequences cost taxpayers far more than any accumulated parking fines.

Ignoring program not a healthy decision

Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News

There is great cause for celebration in Repulse Bay these days over coaches Ian Gordon and Mike McMillan winning the prestigious Local Hockey Leaders award.

However, there are also feelings of resentment lurking beneath all those smiles - and rightly so.

How bizarre that it took a panel of southerners to acknowledge an effective Kivalliq program that our own government chooses to ignore.

Bizarre, that is, in the sense that we still have too many people controlling purse strings who refuse to acknowledge the individual and community growth that often accompanies sports programs.

Long before they received national recognition, the coaches, who also teach at Tusarvik school, had submitted funding proposals right here in their own region.

Each proposal tried to access $7,000 in funding. One from Brighter Futures and the other from the Building Healthy Communities program.

The proposals landed on a desk in Rankin Inlet, where they were turned down flat. Not a dime.

From what we've managed to ascertain, the proposals were denied because the money was to be used to take the Repulse hockey team to a Manitoba tournament.

The exact same thing the $10,000 that comes with the Local Hockey Leaders win is to be used for.

The short response to their proposals was that the money is to be used inside the community, not outside of it.

That reasoning hits an all-time low in nearsightedness.

The teachers' proposal had the overwhelming support of their community.

In fact, the entire hockey team wore their jerseys to accompany their coaches when the two pitched their proposals to hamlet council.

Not only were the proposals approved, a number of community leaders rose to speak about the benefits to the community they've seen as a result of the hockey program.

But let's add a bit more irony to the tale.

At the time the proposals were rejected, there was still $35,000 in available funding for use in Repulse that was perilously close to being transferred to another hamlet so it could be used before the end of the fiscal year.

While listing travel expenses may have given the government the out it needed to deny a sports program the money, the proposals also clearly illustrated the benefits being realized by the youth and the community through the hockey program.

The program is enabling these youth to build self-confidence and raise self-esteem, develop a sense of responsibility to their school and community through teamwork, and learn how to set goals and achieve them.

To tell these coaches they aren't helping to build a healthy community or provide a brighter future for these kids is a slap in the face to every Kivalliq volunteer who devotes countless hours of their time to improving the quality of life for our youth.

And, no matter what the guardians of the purse strings may say - the youth in the Repulse program are definitely working their way towards a brighter future in a healthier community!

Another raven buffet?

Editorial Comment
Jason Unrau
Inuvik Drum

Town council chambers could see some heated debate in the coming weeks as the proposed bylaw to make garbage collection a user-pay service is introduced.

Several small business owners in town have expressed their dissatisfaction with the way in which the town "sprung" its new garbage bins on ratepayers.

"Ripped off" and "misled" were common refrains and a few the Drum spoke with have stated that if they have to pay for garbage collection from the new bins, the town can have them back.

User-pay systems, especially in the case of garbage generation and collection, are very progressive. They encourage recycling which ultimately impacts the amount of garbage going into a landfill. Good for the environment and good for everybody.

However, in the case of the town's plan, there is no incentive for reducing waste for either residents or business owners as a flat rate has been proposed; $10 per household per month, with a two-bag maximum per week. For businesses, the charge could be as much $100, depending on how many enterprises are utilizing a bin.

For one business owner who had his old dumpster replaced with a new blue bin all to himself, the added fee of $100 would increase his municipal tax rate by upwards of 25 per cent. Viewing things from the town's perspective, the new garbage collection system was introduced, in part, to mitigate the amount of garbage finding its way out of the old dumpsters and on to the street.

At Monday's committee of the whole meeting, one councillor referred to the old bins as "feeding stations for ravens."

So to try and address this situation, which spawned continual complaints directed at the town about the litter problem, new "raven proof" bins were introduced and already there is a noticeable decrease in the amount of refuse blowing about town.

But with all improvements comes a price.

Very similar to the way the power corporation recoups its infrastructure expenditures and the like through a "shortfall rider" on your bill each month, the town is attempting to do the same thing by passing the "savings" of what will eventually cost $2 million, on to the ratepayer.

At Monday's meeting, where this user-pay bylaw was introduced for discussion, councillors were talking about "selling the idea to the public."

It's a tad late in the game to go selling a $2 million idea to a public that appeared to believe the new bins were an upgrade, paid for through municipal taxes. Especially in light of the fact that $850,000 has already been spent on it.

In closing the discussion at council, one member remarked that the commitment to go ahead with the new bins had been made and the time to move forward was now.

With that kind of attitude, the only winners will be the ravens. As for businesses and homeowners, the question is how much is a cleaner town worth?

Rest in peace NHL

Editorial Comment
Andrew Raven
Deh cho Drum

When the National Hockey League officially pulled the plug on the 2005 season two weeks ago, it was enough to drive die-hard puck fans to tears.

The Stanley Cup will not be awarded for the first time since 1919, when an influenza pandemic killed thousands.

Since then, the tradition has survived a Depression, a World War, near-Armageddon and 10 years of Brian Mulroney as Prime Minister.

You can spend hours arguing about who is to blame for the cancellation of the season: incompetent billionaire owners or greedy millionaire players.

For the record, this is one fan siding with the players in this dispute. What makes the owners - otherwise intelligent businessmen - spend millions of dollars on player contracts when their teams are hemorrhaging money worse than a hemophiliac running through a maze of razor wire?

Their proposed solution: a limit on the amount of money each team can spend on player salaries.

After all comrades, this whole free market system never really worked anyway, right?

As a result of this asinine quibbling, a vital part of this country's social fabric has been ripped to shreds. Not to mention my Saturday night television options are now a Disney movie or something in French.

How much of our loyalty does the National Hockey League deserve anyway?

The talent is diluted.

The officiating is abysmal. Scoring is almost non-existent.

The neutral zone trap has made talent look so 1980s you can practically hear the J. Geils Band singing in the background.

Ticket prices are ludicrous and please, a $5 hotdog? Come on.

Who needs the NHL anyway?

We can still watch curling. Taunt officials at youth basketball games. Or spill cheese slathered nachos on our pants watching indoor soccer.

Besides, there are plenty of other places to get our professional hockey fix.

I hear there are some pretty good players in the Swedish Elite League. Maybe I'll burn all of my red, white and blue Montreal Canadiens paraphernalia and stock up on Djurngarten brown and white.

Whatever we do, the most important thing is to punish the arrogant, impudent, selfish owners and players of the NHL.

If the league ever comes back, I say boycott it. There is plenty of good hockey in small towns and villages across the North to fill our Saturday nights.

Canadians do not need hockey to be functioning individuals.

Do we?

P.S. to Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey: If Alexei Kovalev will take $4.5 million a year for three years, give it to him.

He was awesome in the playoffs last year.