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Council Briefs
Mayor grilled on Canada Winter Games timeline for committee

Evan Kiyoshi French
Northern News Services
Friday, August 28, 2015

The sub-committees formed to draft an expression of interest in submitting a Yellowknife bid for the 2023 Canada Winter Games are under pressure to get their work finished in their final meetings.

During a municipal services meeting on Monday, Coun. Cory Vanthuyne said the minutes of the sub-committees so far indicate that the groups are only in the "preliminary" stages of considering the bid.

"It still seems like the working group is in its early stages of understanding the requirement of proper resources ... to build a business case."

Vanthuyne asked if the sub-committees will have finished their work before the end of the year, when the city has to decide if it will submit a bid or not.

Mayor Mark Heyck said there are only a few meetings of the sub-committees left. He said they've been working to gather information from businesses and residents and will have their research finished soon.

"Much of that work is nearing completion," said Heyck. "In two or three meetings they'll have all their information put together in a package that council can consider."

Golf course gets discount

Council voted to cap the lease for a golf course planned for Grace Lake South at $10,000 a year for a five-year period, representing a more than 80 per cent discount on the annual land fee. After five years, the lease will be renegotiated.

Coun. Cory Vanthuyne said council mulled over the situation of the Yellowknife Golf Club while considering allowing the construction of another course.

"We tried to consider fairness where we could," he said. "I happen to know that the Yellowknife Golf Course does pay significantly more in its lease rate to the territorial government, however I'm also aware that the ... golf course receives a tax break and this property will not. I see that as the balance between the two."

Twin Pine Hill debate continues

Craig Scott, executive director of Ecology North, attended Monday's council meeting to talk about walking trails on Twin Pine Hill. The developer has begun building condominiums on top of the hill but a plan for a walking path - promised more than 10 years ago with funds set aside - isn't in place yet.

The matter will be decided by the next council, but Scott wanted to underline public support for trails for the sitting councillors. Scott said he never heard about any public consultation into the matter and asked that council find new ways of getting the word out. The city told Yellowknifer last week there is supposed to be public consultation sessions in the fall, after the Oct. 19 election.

Old Airport Road open for development

Coun. Adrian Bell and Coun. Cory Vanthuyne were the only councillors who didn't support a motion that would allow residential development along Old Airport Road. During the regular meeting Monday night, council heard second and third readings of a motion to allow mixed-used development along a portion of the road currently zoned commercial. Bell said allowing developers to build high-density dwellings in areas away from the downtown is a mistake.

"Adding residential population and housing to the downtown are very important," he said. "It's too soon to start developing Old Airport Road with any real focus. The downtown is not yet there. We have to hit some benchmarks for downtown revitalization before we move on."

Vanthuyne said Old Airport Road is a commercial corridor.

"We've got to recognize that there needs to be adequate space as well for commercial services to grow," he said.

Coun. Niels Konge said the city must not make the mistake of trying to force development into the downtown. "The developers are going for privately-owned lands (such as) Twin Pine Hill," he said. "City land is not attractive to developers right now. If we don't pass this, we're forcing developers to either not develop or we're driving up the cost of development with over-priced land. Does the downtown need help? Yes it does. Forcing help onto something isn't necessarily going to fix the issue."

Busy September

City council declared September Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and United Way Month on Monday night. Mayor Mark Heyck said since 24,000 Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, and since the survival rate can be better than 90 per cent if it's detected early, the city would mark the first month of fall in recognition of the disease. Heyck went on to say that September is also going to be declared United Way Month, because the organization has done great work helping the needy. The city is set to start an internal fundraising campaign for the charity organization on Sept. 16.

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