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2012 full of tangible and exploratory goals
Politicians, businesses and non-profit groups share wish lists

Richard McIntosh
Northern News Services
Published Friday, December 30, 2011

The new year is approaching and the list of goals for Yellowknife organizations and levels of government varies from brick and mortar projects to the more abstract idea of "hot-bunking."

NNSL photo/graphic

Nicole Spencer, president of the NWT SPCA, stands with her dog Wyatte in front of the future SPCA building with board member Jennifer Teed. - Richard McIntosh/NNSL photo

Fundraising for the NWT SPCA has been ongoing since the group began the drive to raise nearly $900,000 to build a permanent shelter for pets in need of a loving home. Nicole Spencer, president of the NWT SPCA, is excited about the shelter's progress.

"We will have windows, doors and heat by the end of February. The facility will be operational but not yet complete," said Spencer. The group is counting on the good will of Yellowknifers to help finish the project by donating money, services and volunteer time. The organization is $180,000 short of its goal.

Spencer did not anticipate any animals being housed at the building until spring and said the group was also looking for kennel donations. There will be a New Year's Eve party at the Elks Hall to help raise additional funds.

Creating an anti-poverty strategy for the territory is an ongoing task for advocate and Frame Lake MLA Wendy Bisaro, who is hopeful that an anti-poverty motion passed this month in the legislative assembly will lead to some concrete action this year.

"We as a government need to involve non-government organizations and businesses to add input," said Bisaro. The government "could do a better job of evaluating what and where services are provided and become more efficient in providing services across the territory," she added. Ultimately, Bisaro would like to see anti-poverty legislation enacted.

From a Yellowknife perspective, Bisaro said ongoing funding from the GNWT to support the day shelter run by the John Howard Society is a must. "It's a Yellowknife issue but the shelter is open to all residents of NWT," she said.

Athletes from Yellowknife and across the NWT are preparing to compete at the Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse this March. Sport North executive director Doug Rentmeister hopes as many communities are represented as in Grande Prairie in 2010. There were athletes from 27 communities at the last AWG.

The development of athletes "from cradle to grave" is also an important aspect of Sport North's support; however, this relies on ongoing funding. Rentmeister said there have been some difficult times in the last few years, but "I do believe we have political support moving forward," he said.

"Hot-bunking" is a term Artist Run Community Centre board members have picked up from sub-mariners. The group hopes to use the concept, whereby sub-mariners take turns sharing bunks one after another so the bunk always feels warm, and turn it into their own concept of using vacant Yellowknife properties for short-term artist-run spaces.

"We hope to use the exploration for space as an exercise in artistic expression," said ARCC board member Lani Cooke. Cooke said the group has received funding from the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs to train board members to be able to maintain and update an interactive website. "We don't have a physical space anymore so we need a strong virtual space," she said.

The Chamber of Commerce members support the broader aspirations of research exploration within the territory, streamlining government regulations and working with municipal government to successfully implement parts of the city's general plan.

"We would like to see a reduction in red tape," said executive director Tim Doyle. "There are a lot of regulatory boards which oversee the applications for development. Some of these boards don't even have enough members to make quorum," he said. Doyle would also like to see the vacant positions on regulatory boards filled.

"Overall we were impressed by the city's general plan. We are, however, concerned about the housing projections," said Doyle, adding that the need for housing is immediate and that he often hears from employers who say prospective employees considering a move to Yellowknife are unable to find affordable housing.

Doyle did applaud the present territorial government on its commitment to make economic development a cornerstone of its policy platform and is looking forward to working with the GNWT and city hall to create a more vibrant economy.

Mark Heyck, deputy mayor of Yellowknife, said that the city is on the cusp of adopting its General Plan and it should be ready by the end of February if all goes smoothly.

The harbour plan, part of the General Plan, identifies all waterfront areas owned by the city and sets out a vision for development and preservation.

The asset management plan looks at how the city should begin tackling a $67 million infrastructure deficit due to corroding water and sewer pipes and deteriorating roads. "We need to come up with specific actions to tackle this problem," said Heyck.

The municipal election in October will also be on the minds of city councilors as they try to win another term at city hall.

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