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Council votes to help Northland
City commits to drafting report on how to deal with trailer park's failing infrastructure

Nicole Veerman
Northern News Services
Published Friday, September 30, 2011

There was applause and cheers of excitement from more than 50 Northland residents at city hall Monday night, as council passed a motion that will move the park one step closer to replacing its failing water and sewer lines.

NNSL photo/graphic

CIty council unanimously supported a motion Monday that will result in a report, no later than Jan. 31, 2012, outlining how Northland residents and the city should proceed in dealing with the park's failing underground infrastructure. - NNSL file photo

"Just for the information for those that are here, this moves us another step forward in a commitment from the city," said Mayor Gord Van Tighem, following a vote that gained unanimous support from council.

The motion was put forward by Coun. David Wind two weeks ago. It requests that administration present to council, on or before Jan. 31, 2012, an outline of what needs to happen to complete the infrastructure replacement, along with how and when it can happen.

"It's exciting," said Wade Friesen, vice-president of the Yellowknife Condominium Corporation No. 8 board, following the meeting. "This is the most progress we've made since this whole thing has been underway.

"I mean, the city is recognizing - and they always have - but now, in steps, they're actually making motions that this can keep moving forward. It's very positive."

The water and sewer lines in the park are 15 years past their expiry date. The cost of replacing them is estimated at $18 million and is the responsibility of the condominium corporation itself, not the city.

The original motion put forward by Wind included start and completion dates for construction, but they were removed by a vote of four councillors to two during last week's committee meeting. Couns. Lydia Bardak, Paul Falvo, Mark Heyck and Shelagh Montgomery voted to remove the dates because funding hasn't yet been secured for the project.

The condo corporation and the City of Yellowknife have applied for funding from the federal government to assist the project, but after 15 months, have yet to receive word on their request.

The city has proposed a solution - a local improvement tax, which would result in monthly payments of about $420 per month for 25 years from each of the 258 trailers in the park. The city would then take over responsibility of the infrastructure, so the park would never again be in this position.

But residents say $420 a month isn't financially feasible. So to make it easier on the pockets of Northland residents, the board has requested the city take back the infrastructure with the park's roads in an unpaved state - a request that is not unprecedented. The city has, in the last 20 years, assumed ownership of the infrastructure of both Trails End Trailer Park and Forrest Drive Trailer Park with the roads unpaved, according to the condo board's letter to council. If the city is to agree to do the same for Northland, it would reduce the price of the replacement project by about $4 million. The letter also asks the city to submit an application to the GNWT for a interest-free loan to cover the remaining $14 million.

"If the city were to take back the infrastructure in an unpaved state and the GNWT stepped forward with a no-interest loan, we would be left with $54,000 per unit, and we extend that out over an amortization of 25 years, we would be looking at $180 a month for a resident," said Friesen. "That's a lot better than $420."

Friesen said the loan would be backed by the city through the local improvement tax that it has already proposed.

"I can't speak for everybody - there's 1,000 people in there - but with the people that I've spoken to, it feels as though that's a pretty good resolution," he said.

The letter was moved to next week's committee meeting for discussion.

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