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Meeting for Northland deal

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The city hopes to finalize a deal for water and sewer line repairs at Northland Trailer Park but the park's governing board will be holding a last minute information meeting tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Northern United Place to update residents.

"We hope to have a petition and proxy ready for residents to sign at the meeting, but we do have some prepping to do," said infrastructure committee member Wade Friesen. "This meeting should be the first of a series of meetings over the next six weeks where we consult with residents."

Infrastructure committee member Trevor Kasteel was successful in having two amendments to the approved memorandum passed at last week's regular council meeting.

Council unanimously supported one amendment, which stated the city would continue over the next three years to work with Northland to reduce the local improvement charge where possible.

The current memorandum states that Northland owners will agree to pay no more than $358 per month on a local improvement charge at a five per cent interest rate in order to cover the costs of borrowing for the $15.7 million project over the next 25 years.

Though the second amendment passed, three councillors opposed it, which allows Northland to form a working group with the city and the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA). The purpose of the working group is to ensure there is no misunderstanding between the city and Northland as to what funding MACA can provide for the project.

"MACA is merely a body that money flows through," said Mayor Gord Van Tighem this week. "As far as forming a working group, (Northland) would be talking to the city about money that has already been given to the city. We already know there is no more territorial money or federal money."

Representatives from Northland's Yk Condominium Corporation No. 8, however, indicated they want to go over the final draft with the board in light of the city legal team's review of the amendments last week.

"My understanding is that the city legal counsel has a couple of concerns, so the board is waiting to get the revised memorandum from city council," said board secretary Lorraine Hewlett, adding as of as of Monday, the board hadn't seen the memorandum since the legal review.

"The memorandum has to be changed to reflect the wording in (Kasteel's) motions. If we have a revised memorandum then we will present it to condo members. But we will give them the latest version of whatever we have and discuss it."

Northland representatives want assurances residents will be protected if costs unexpectedly go over the $358 and that the city will pick up the tab.

"When we are pushing for a cap, what that means is the city will have to physically sink dollars in if the project exceeds the estimated budget," Kasteel wrote to condo board members last week. "The city has always maintained that they can't do that due to the legislative constraints of the Cities, Towns and Villages Act. They say that we are private among other things so their hands are tied and can't put money in for overages."

Kasteel says he has been in contact with MACA representatives, including MACA assistant deputy minister Eleanor Young, who he said has welcomed the idea of forming the working group.

Young was contacted Monday but she declined comment, saying she could not provide an interview without a formal media request through her department.

Van Tighem said Monday there was no real problem with the amendments to the memorandum after the city's legal team reviewed it following the council meeting.

"There was nothing that (Kasteel) was asking for that wasn't already in the memorandum so we put the extra clauses in for an extra feeling of comfort," said Van Tighem.

He said, however, that unless there are new budgetary considerations by the GNWT or the federal government, he does not believe there will be new money made available, especially when it comes to federal gas tax money. This is largely because gas tax money is strictly for public infrastructure ventures and Northland is considered a private entity.

Van Tighem has yet to sign off on the memorandum, however following this, a plebiscite to condo members will be carried out. With the approval of more than 60 per cent of property owners, representing more than 50 per cent of assessed real property in the area, preparation for construction can move ahead. Approval must be attained 60 days after council's passing of the memorandum.

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