Frequently Asked Questions

As I get questions from residents, I’ll be adding them to this page. Check back for more Q&A or follow me on Facebook.

How can we make our power more reliable, ensure we have enough, and cheaper?

What are the opportunities to make our power more reliable, ensure we have enough for future growth (like potential mines in the area) and decrease the cost to residents and businesses?

There are a few options, in particular with evolving technology, that we should look at in the next term:

  1. We need to investigate the benefit to residents and businesses in putting in an application to the Public Utilities Board to create an off-peak power rate. The Snare Hydro System (Yellowknife’s power source) increasingly relies on diesel back-up power to achieve peak load requirements which adds to the cost of servicing consumer demand. With evolving battery technology, users could store electricity during non-peak power times and use power from the batteries during peak times. This would create more grid stability – reduce spikes and drops in power – meaning that we’d use less diesel (save $$ and GHG emissions).


  1. As battery life spans increase, work with the Arctic Energy Alliance and the GNWT to add batteries – to store electricity during non-peak power times and use power from the batteries during peak times – to the list of eligible projects to receive funding through the Alternative Energy Technology Program – as the batteries could reduce diesel use if the batteries are charging during off-peak hours. There’s also an opportunity for the City and our power franchisee to explore using batteries as well.


  1. Work with the GNWT, other community governments and advocacy groups (like the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce, the Mining Association of Canada, etc) to gain Federal support to link the Snare grid and the Taltson grid. The connection of the two grids has been identified as a priority in the GNWT’s Energy Strategy to 2030; and closing the infrastructure gap and reducing fossil fuel dependency has been identified as challenges to focus on when the Federal government develops their Arctic Policy Framework.

From the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources “Powering Canada’s Territories”:

There are two multi-community grids: the Snare grid and the Taltson grid. Both grids are located along the Great Slave Lake but they are not linked to each other. The Snare grid serves Yellowknife and surrounding communities north of the lake with hydropower from the Snare Hydro System (30.2MW) and the Bluefish Hydro plant (7.5 MW). The Taltson grid located south of the lake is served by power from the Taltson Hydro plant (18 MW).

The Snare Hydro System increasingly relies on diesel back-up power to achieve peak load requirements which adds to the cost of servicing consumer demand.

The current NWT hydro systems increase the risk of triggering an outage if there is a problem at one of the generation stations. Yellowknife’s outage rate is roughly four times that of the rest of the country. To address this problem, the NTPC is examining if large batteries can be a cost effective means to store excess energy during low load times to be used at a later time during peak demand.

Many problems with NWT’s hydro system could be addressed if both grid systems were connected.

The advantages of NWT’s transmission expansion:

  • NWT would have a reliable supply of energy in the event of outages (planned or unplanned).
  • NWT could better balance and manage its loads between the two territorial grids and sell excess power to the continental grid.
  • Mining companies would have reliable access to non-emitting power that could serve to extend the productive life of mines and encourage new investment. It would also reduce the consumption of diesel.

If elected Mayor, I want to work with our partners to ensure Yellowknifers have more reliable power; enough power; and cheaper power.

Where do I vote?

The election is on Monday, October 15 from 10 am to 8 pm. To see where you’re voting, zoom in on the map to find your address, click on your house and your polling station will pop up: Polling Stations


How can we improve transit?

Although our buses are well used in the morning (before 9 am) and in the afternoon (between 3-5:30 pm), the time in between, it’s pretty empty. During my time on Council, I’ve been suggesting that we look at improvements for transit to increase ridership. In the next term, I’d like us to explore how we can use technology more to improve transit. I’m interested to see how this works out, the cost to implement, whether we could increase ridership in Yellowknife with something like this, etc:

Public intoxication downtown

Public intoxication is a complex health and safety issue which will require partnerships with all orders of government, as well as support from the not-for-profit sector, residents and businesses, as we strive to make progress.

To address immediate health and safety concerns of individuals, I think the Street Outreach program (partially funded by the Federal government) and the Sobering Center (run by the NWT Disabilities Council and funded by the GNWT) are working well – although both could use some improvements.

For the Street Outreach program, it’d be beneficial to extend the hours as they’re currently operating from noon until midnight every day and they receive many calls in the morning when they are not yet in service. I’d like to find funding support from other parties to expand this service. As the new sobering center just opened, I’m hoping that it’ll also make a difference in the coming years – because it means now people will have somewhere to go 24 hours a day to sleep off their intoxication, access to a bathroom, showers, laundry, etc. They’re also offering more programming in this location (anger management, etc) so I hope that it can make a difference in our community. There’s also the recently opened Arctic Indigenous Wellness camp (opened in May of this year) that is offering culturally relevant on-the-land healing programs.

With a more long-term focus, we need to follow through on our 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness – which also addresses affordable housing, healing and reconciliation. The City has a leadership role in making sure this plan advances, but we can also use tools and resources in the City’s control – such as donating land, tax incentives, zoning, etc – to access funds from a much larger pool of money from our partners at the Territorial and the Federal governments to implement the plan. If elected Mayor, I’m committed to working with all of our partners to ensure the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness continues to get implemented.

At the same time public intoxication is seen as a safety issue for other residents, as well as a deterrent to investment in the downtown. This year, two of the priorities for community policing that we put forward to the RCMP are: 1) More visible presence downtown (which has resulted in hundreds of alcohol confiscations); and 2) Addressing chronic offenders in a different way by diverting people to the integrated case management team at GNWT. As Mayor, I think it’s important that we stay in close contact with the RCMP to see how these priorities are advancing, and if there’s no progress, what some different possibilities or initiatives could be.

Outside of the health and safety issues, there’s also the issue of ensuring the downtown is clean (bodily fluids and garbage). If elected mayor, I’ll continue to support increased clean-up efforts in the downtown core, and continue to look for ways to make more accessible public restrooms in and around downtown.

What are you going to do to ensure there is a proper tourism centre in Yellowknife?

The first step is to identify a third-party operator for a re-launched Visitors Centre – with funding coming from the City and GNWT.  One of the focuses I’d like to see is an increased digital presence in relevant markets, and better data collection regarding visitors (are they coming here alone or as part of a tour package, country of origin, etc – data is important for businesses to know so they can create tourism products and experiences to match the market).  We also need to continue to work with our partners – CDETNO, Chamber of Commerce, GNWT ITI and the business community – to ensure we are offering quality tourism services in Yellowknife.

Opening Remarks during the Alternatives North Forum

My name is Rebecca Alty, and I have served six years as a City Councillor, and currently am on leave from my role on the Senior Management team at Diavik – as the manager of community relations and communications.

As I’m sure most in this room would agree, Yellowknife is already a great place to live, work and visit. But we can improve and I have the skills and expertise for us to do that.

My vision as Mayor is…

  • I want us to have a healthy and safe community that is economically and socially prosperous, making it a desirable place to live and work for all residents and economically viable for businesses.
  • I want Council to work together to successfully address problems in a way that will achieve long-term, sustainable solutions.

As Mayor…

  • I believe that it’s important that initiatives and improvements are part of an overall plan, and aren’t just happening in isolation;
  • I believe that we need to tap into our strong, resilient, creative community to turn challenges – whether they are social, environmental or economic – into opportunities; and
  • I believe that partnerships are essential to move us forward, and that I have the people skills and connections to strengthen our relationships with the GNWT, the Federal government, Indigenous governments, not-for-profits and local businesses for the benefit of all residents

On the economic front, we need to have a solid economic development plan; a plan that is developed with all levels of government and representatives from various business sectors. We need to collaborate effectively to identify within specific economic sectors which obstacles can and which barriers should be overcome through well-designed policy actions.

On the social front, we need to follow through on our 10 year plan to end homelessness – which also addresses affordable housing, healing and reconciliation – by working with various partners.

My leadership style is collaboration to achieve these bigger goals. This is my home and as Mayor, I will dedicate myself to listening to residents and working together with Council, Administration and our partners to make the most of the potential we have here in our great city.


Where do you stand on term lengths for mayor and council, three years or four?

Four year term is my preference, for a few reasons: (1) More time in between elections can provide greater public certainty and stability of government; (2) It provides an extra year in the mandate to get things done before mayor and council begins focusing on re-election; (3) It will save money in the long term (2018’s election is budgeted at $94,000).

What’s your plan for economic development?

The potential economic challenges and future opportunities require focused and deliberate leadership from the mayor’s office.  I will work in collaboration with my fellow elected representatives to deliver an economic development plan to capitalize on future opportunities while preparing for challenges.

What’s one of the biggest challenges that the next Council will face? Preparing for the closure of the next diamond mine. In 5-6 years, the next diamond mine will close. Currently this mine employs close to 400 Yellowknife residents (2017 figure) and the loss of those jobs will have a significant impact on our neighbours and fellow community members as well as the city as a whole.

What are some of the opportunities?

  • Jobs from the Giant Mine Remediation project (between 2021 and 2029 the project will require anywhere from 135 to 312 employees).
  • Potential for new mines in the area and mine services – in the Northwest Territories and the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut.
  • The potential development by the GNWT of a polytechnic university.
  • Expanding tourism.
  • Growing our food industry – agriculture, fisheries, etc.
  • Strengthening our arts, culture and film industry.

What can the City do to capitalize on these opportunities?

  • Create a new tax incentive program to encourage landlords to make vacant buildings available to cultural organizations and artists.
  • Relaunch the Visitors Center – with a third-party operating the Center and funding coming from the GNWT and the City – and increase our digital presence in relevant markets.
  • Work with the GNWT to increase the reliability of power, ensure sufficient power for mines in the Yellowknife area, and decrease the cost for businesses and residents.
  • Work with local commercial growers and food producers to ensure land is available.
  • Work with the GNWT on a location for the University and student housing. Both should be located downtown.

Creating a solid economic development plan – incorporating opportunities like the above – is required to minimize the impact of our challenges and maximize our opportunities. The economic development strategy process will involve:

  1. Defining what our future economic success would look like.
  2. Completing an Economic Climate Assessment to determine what areas of Yellowknife’s economy are working well and also areas requiring attention.
  3. Determining Economic Sectors that capture key economic activities in Yellowknife (mining, tourism, arts, agriculture, post-secondary, etc.) and Economic Factors (labour, access, transportation, capital, energy, environment and community image & culture) that affect the local economy.
  4. Selecting economic development strategies specific to the different economic sectors and factors, and create an action plan that identifies necessary resources, timelines and responsibilities to implement the preferred option.
  5. Developing an Economic Score Card, and updating on an annual basis to track our progress.

To develop the new plan, I suggest that we create an Economic Advisory Council that includes representatives from various business sectors and all levels of government (Territorial, Federal and Indigenous). The purpose of the Economic Advisory Council will be to provide policy advice and recommendations to City Council to help create the conditions for strong and sustained economic growth.

As Mayor, I will work to ensure the City’s policies, programs and activities create an attractive climate for business and investment.

Do you support a new pool?

Yes, I’m supportive of a new pool, as it’s one of our most used recreation facilities – and well used by all ages – plus it teaches a life-saving skill. The public consultation is just wrapping up, and then the Aquatic Centre Advisory Committee will be bringing forward a recommendation to Council (i.e. to go with a new stand-alone pool or renovate the current one, and whether to go with a 25m or 50m pool). Once the recommendation comes to Council, I’ll be evaluating it to make sure that it fits the need of as many residents as possible (from young families to seniors) and that the annual operating costs are reasonable so that it will be affordable for residents to access.

What’s a service level inventory?

A Services Inventory – with associated service level standards – documents the City’s key services and associated service levels currently in place across the organization.

To improve customer service at the City and ensure we’re spending tax dollars in the right areas, I believe it’s important that we have service standards and track how we’re doing against the standard. If we’re not meeting the standard, it’s an opportunity to stop and problem solve: What are the current barriers in achieving the standard, and what can we do to remove them?

In developing this inventory and standards, we will:

  1. Prioritize services: Evaluate the importance of individual programs and services.
  2. Do the important things well: Identify the services that are most important to residents and look for efficiencies in the lower value service areas.
  3. Know the true cost of doing business: To determine the service level standard, we’ll also need to determine the cost of delivering the service at various levels. For example, in the 2019 budget, there’s a request for a full-time climbing wall attendant and a few part-time positions so we can provide the service seven days a week from 9 am to 9 pm. In looking at the cost to have this service standard, it wouldn’t be revenue neutral (so it would require tax dollars plus the revenue generated through admission); but if we set the standard as weekdays from 5 pm to 9 pm and weekends 9 am to 9 pm, it’ll be cost neutral (the revenue generated from admission will equal the expense of the part-time employees). Council would then have to weigh through community priorities and budget considerations to determine the service level standards.

Once complete, the Services and Service Levels Inventory should be reviewed and updated as necessary to ensure that it continues to meet the community’s priorities.

What does it look like in practice? Here’s the City of St-Albert’s:

Why’s a long-term financial plan important?

I believe one of the most important jobs of Council is being good stewards of public funds. Currently, we approve an annual budget that briefly mentions future capital projects, but we have no long-term financial plan.  A long-term plan is important because, unlike the budget, it considers future scenarios and helps us navigate challenges – we have the opportunity to be pro-active instead of re-active.

What is a Long-Term Financial Plan? From the Government Finance Officers Association:

  • A combination of technical analysis and strategizing. Long-term forecasts and analysis are used to identify long-term imbalances. Then, financial strategies are developed to counteract these imbalances.
  • A collaborative and visionary process. A plan does not just forecast the status quo into the future. It considers different possible futures. It also involves other stakeholders. Elected officials, operating departments, and the public can all help identify financial issues, develop consensus strategies, and ensure a successful implementation.
  • An anchor of financial sustainability. A plan develops big-picture and long-term thinking among elected and appointed officials.

As Mayor, I’d work to ensure that this plan is completed early in our upcoming term.

Example of a municipal long-term financial plan:

What’s a loans for energy retrofits program?

In 2015, an estimated 60% of Yellowknife homes were rated below EnerGuide 70. To help residents reduce their energy use and save on their monthly utilities, as Mayor, I would work to get a loans for energy retrofits program in place.

This fall, the GNWT is set to pass legislation that will allow municipalities:

  • to pass bylaws allowing property owners to finance, through local improvement charges (LIC), local improvements that are substantively energy efficiency works or renewable energy works.

By developing an LIC Program, the City would help homeowners access low-interest loans for energy retrofits and allow them to pay back the loans on their property tax bills. The loan would be tied to the property rather than to the property owner, so if an owner sells his or her home the responsibility for paying back the loan would pass to the new owner.

There are many cities across the country who have implemented loan programs for energy efficiency retrofits – you can read about them on page 133 of the City’s Community Energy Plan:

A model that I’m in favour of is home-owners getting an initial home energy evaluation which would identify the retrofit options with the best potential payback for their specific home (designed to reduce energy use, costs and greenhouse gas emissions). The homeowner would then select what work they would like to complete, get a contractor to complete the work, and conduct a post-retrofit home energy evaluation to assess the level of improvement. Details regarding eligible retrofits, what the dollar limit for the loan would be, etc would need to be worked out, and I’d suggest that we work with our local partners – like the Arctic Energy Alliance – to develop the best program for Yellowknife.

We’ve done many projects in the past few years to improve the energy efficiency of City facilities, and with the change in territorial legislation, we now have the opportunity to help residents too.

How can the City advance more TRC calls to action?

In 2015, I brought forward a motion that the City move forward on the actions recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Since then, for example, City employees have undergone and continue to undergo training on the “History of Colonization and Residential School.” As Yellowknife is home to many residential school survivors, and was also the location of one of the residential schools (which closed in 1994), City staff’s knowledge of the history is an important step in reconciliation.

If elected as Mayor, I would like to continue to address the TRC’s actions and in particular, work with the GNWT to implement recommendation #82:

  1. We call upon provincial and territorial governments, in collaboration with Survivors and their organizations, and other parties to the Settlement Agreement, to commission and install a publicly accessible, highly visible, Residential Schools Monument in each capital city to honour Survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities.

I also look forward to supporting the development of an “Action Plan on Reconciliation,” and embedding reconciliation into our core practices and decision-making – from programs, to services and strategies.

Will there be any debates?

  • Alternatives North – Mayoral candidates: Thursday, September 27 from 7-9 pm at the Baker Center.
  • Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce – Mayoral candidates: Tuesday, October 2 from 6:30-8:30 pm at Northern United Place.

What can Yellowknifers do to be part of the solution to end homelessness?

From the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness:

Engage Yellowknifers in the movement to end homelessness.

There is no doubt that Yellowknifers are committed to making this community a better place to live. Residents are extensively engaged in volunteering, donating, and increasing awareness about social issues. The potential to increase the community’s goodwill to support the Plan is tremendous. The Plan calls for leveraging of public education, awareness, fundraising, and volunteerism efforts, particularly with an already engaged business community via the Homeful Partnership.

Looking to community building efforts from a Reconciliation perspective, ongoing community events can celebrate Indigenous cultures and create a welcoming and positive space for those experiencing hardship and to reduce stigma. Events such as community feasts, led by Elders, can become part of the healing work at the individual and community levels as well, creating connection and trust. Here, the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Centre can play a key role in facilitating broader engagement, knowledge about, and celebration of Indigenous culture.

Working with the media, business sector, volunteers, and Indigenous leaders, public understanding about homelessness in the context of Reconciliation can challenge reactive approaches to this complex social issue. This can help balance the concerns for enhanced public safety with the need for long term solutions. The role of the Yellowknife Homelessness Commission in this community awareness work is also essential: showing leadership in a coordinated fashion, and keeping the issue on the public and political agenda will be essential to maintaining momentum.

Two of the suggested actions for this are:

  1. Develop and implement an ongoing marketing and communications strategy to increase public engagement and action on homelessness.
  2. Create learning opportunities to enhance participation in ending homelessness through volunteering, and to enhance knowledge about root causes of homelessness in colonialism.

As Mayor, following through on this plan – including these actions – will be one of my key priorities. If you have ideas on how residents can be help out, I’d love to hear from you:

You talk about homelessness, but what about the need for more affordable, non-market housing?

As a City Councillor, I brought a motion from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to City Council which was unanimously approved. The motion was to lobby the Federal Government for the development of a new long-term federal plan to fix Canada’s housing crunch. In 2017, the Federal Government launched a new 10-year housing strategy with funding.

The Federal National Housing Strategy has more than $40B in funding over the next 10 years. I will provide the leadership within City Council that promotes the use of tools in the City’s power – whether it’s access to land, tax-incentives or zoning changes – to partner with other orders of government (like the Territorial or Indigenous governments), not-for-profits or private developers to unlock access to as much federal funding as possible over the course of our term.

The National Housing Co-Investment Fund (NHCIF) encourages partnerships – which can be either monetary or in-kind contributions like policy or regulatory incentives.

The “10 year plan to end homelessness” has a section that addresses the need to increase affordable housing options in Yellowknife. The “toolbox of incentives” in regards to policy and regulatory measures that they recommend include:

  1. Exemption of development/construction fees on new affordable housing projects;
  2. Introduction of attractive density bonuses or other incentives for the private sector;
  3. Fast-tracking of applications on affordable housing and new rental projects;
  4. Tiny homes/small lot options;
  5. Improvement of policy pertaining to secondary suites to encourage new units;
  6. Measures to ensure that zoning accounts for accessibility needs amongst vulnerable groups.

So it’s important that we use the Plan as a guiding document (and track it regularly so we progress!), and then look for partnerships and funding (like the NHCIF) to achieve the targets in the plan.

I’ll also continue to support donating land to Habitat for Humanity, and will work with the NWT Housing Corporation in the upcoming term as they look to complete a Yellowknife Community Housing Plan.

What are your thoughts on the Submarine Replacement Line vs drawing water from the bay?

I support continuing to draw our water from the Yellowknife river, therefore going with the submarine replacement line.

The two big factors that set the Yellowknife River source above the YK Bay source are: susceptibility to raw water quality changes – with the particular focus on arsenic – and reliability of water supply. And in looking at all of the different criteria (cost of the capital project, O&M, etc.), I’d say these are the two most important factors. We want to make sure that we have clean, safe water and having a back-up source (the YK Bay) are the reasons that I support moving ahead of with the submarine line replacement. The only score that the YK Bay really beat the YK River is in the price category – but can we really put a price on clean, safe water? Yes, it’ll technically cost less, but in the case of a catastrophic failure at Giant, it could cost up to $10 million which means the YK Bay turns into a $28 million dollar project and the YK River is just $5 million more. Spread out over 50 years, I think it’s a good investment. Again, it’s based on a worst case scenario, but I think we shouldn’t gamble.

I think that we should go with the Yellowknife River option, but the next time that the submarine line has to be replaced, it’ll be in the long-term care and maintenance phase after remediation, and if the Council of the day re-does a water source study, they may see that the numbers have changed and that the Yellowknife Bay is now the better option. But for right now, I think we need to take the major Upset Condition due to a berm failure at Giant Mine into consideration and proceed with the Yellowknife River.

To read the report:

Do you support Energy Standards?

Yes, and as we’re in the process of reviewing and revising the Building Bylaw, it’s the right opportunity to set a new standard for residential, multi-family, commercial, institutional and industrial. Although, the energy standards in the Building Bylaw have done a lot to improve local construction, we also heard recently how some builders were designing their buildings to be in compliance with the energy standard but were not in compliance once the building was complete. I think finding ways to improve compliance when built will also be important.

What are you going to do about the Accessibility Audit?

The Accessibility Audit included an action plan that prioritized barrier removal. During the on-boarding of the next Council, I believe the audit should be presented again, so the new Council is aware of this important action plan, and it should be tracked so that we continue to make progress. Currently, we’ve included funds in the upcoming budgets to accomplish the action plan, and I support including the funding so that we can work through the action plan.

To read the report:

What are your thoughts on a City Ombudsperson?

On September 17, 2018, during the City’s Governance and Priorities Committee (formerly called MSC or Municipal Services Committee), I requested that the City provide a written submission to the GNWT regarding Bill 20 – the Ombudsperson Act – requesting that municipalities be included. Across Canada, the majority of provinces – Nova Scotia, Manitoba, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta and Yukon – include municipalities in their legislation. It’s great that the Ombudsperson Act is being developed, but I think that it should be in line with best practices.

During our meeting, we also reviewed a “Public Complaints Policy” – which outlined how residents can submit complaints and how they’d be handled by Administration. If a territorial ombudsperson was in place, if a resident was not satisfied with the result after going through the City’s complaint process, they could bring their concerns to the territorial ombudsperson – which is the way that it works in other jurisdictions.

Why I’m supportive of an ombudsman at the territorial level vs city level? For one, it means that we won’t have to create a separate ombudsman for the City and therefore it will be one less expense that the City will incur. Two, having an ombudsperson that is outside the City’s authority removes the ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune.’ If the ombudsperson is at the territorial level, we remove the optic of the City paying the investigator and having influence as a result.

If Yellowknife is the only municipality in the territory that wants to be covered in this Act, the way that the Act is currently drafted, I think they could include just Yellowknife in the section where they name all of the different organizations who will be covered by the Act. They could say that it applies to “City” as defined in the “Cities, Towns and Villages Act” – since we’re the only City in the NWT as per the CTV Act. To read the proposed Act:

What will you tackle first?

The top things that I will work collaboratively with the City Council members to complete are:

  1. Passing the 2019 Budget
  2. Completing Council orientation
  3. Developing Council’s strategic plan, implementation plan, and tracking system
  4. Forming the Mayor’s Economic Advisory Council

I’m concerned about waste. What’s your plan for that? 

One of the core services of the City is waste management – which right now is garbage, recycling and compost. In May of this year, we approved a new Strategic Waste Management Plan. Administration is currently developing an implementation plan, but it will be for the next Council to ensure that the plan is implemented. For environmental and economic reasons, it’s important that we implement this plan.

What’s the cost of garbage? In addition to the ongoing operational costs (~$1.27 million/year), we need to consider the capital cost of opening a new cell, closing cells and the post-closure cost. The estimated future cost to close the balefill area is approximately $3.6 million. The City will retain responsibility to manage and monitor the site in the post-closure care period to ensure that the previously placed waste materials are not negatively impacting the surrounding environment. The estimated post-closure costs for the facility are $108,000 per year.

To reduce the cost of opening new areas, closing old areas, and monitoring post-closure, we need to focus on waste reduction and improve diversion (like recycling and composting), and the Strategic Waste Management Plan is the guiding document to help us. As Mayor, and as this is one of our core services, I will focus on ensuring that this plan is properly resourced and tracked on a regular basis.

To read the report:

How can we encourage more development downtown?

As Mayor, I’d focus on the policy and bylaw reviews so that we can encourage development. Developing downtown is important for many reasons. Residential in-fill (i.e. building in areas that are already developed) costs tax-payers less vs building in new areas (new areas cost tax payers more because we need to maintain more roads, water, sewer, etc.) and more people living downtown means more people shopping downtown and creates more vibrancy.

The City recently commissioned a report that focused on “Creating Vibrancy in Downtown Yellowknife: 50/50 Site and Beyond.” It provided some high level suggestions that should be pursued by the next Council, and that I will work with them to advance.

  • A policy review to determine what barriers may exist to downtown residential development, and whether incentives could help spur development. Examples include:
    1. Revising our Development Incentive bylaw to increase uptake.
      1. We currently have development incentives for the downtown, but the uptake has been low. We need to work with developers to identify why the incentive program isn’t working, and what changes would increase the uptake.
    2. Expediting the permitting process for downtown projects.
      1. To make development a priority downtown, we need to make the development permits a priority too so work can begin as quickly as possible.
    3. Relaxing the parking requirements for downtown developments.
      1. The one big concern that I hear from developers is that it costs a lot to build to meet Zoning Bylaw requirements when it comes to parking (sometimes they need one lot for the building and one lot for parking). Municipalities across North America are updating their zoning bylaws to reduce or remove parking requirements – regulations that were developed at a time when there was a heavy emphasis on making room for cars and not looking at alternative transportation.
  • Working to remove the caveats currently on the 50/50 lot (such as the current restriction on building a hotel on that lot, having to guarantee the mall can go through the property to access their loading/service doors, etc.) so that it’s more desirable for a future development.

To be clear, I don’t think that the City of Yellowknife should get into the development business. Through bylaws, policies and procedures, the City should work to make conditions right for the private sector to develop in the downtown.


Have a question? Contact me.