Question: What is your position on the current funding formula for community governments?
Answer: The GNWT’s approach to re-balancing funding, so far, has been to hold funding steady for small communities that are overfunded, while increasing funding over time to those that are underfunded, like Yellowknife. While this is an approach that will reduce the shock to small communities finances, commitments need to be made with respect to how long it will take to achieve a fair balance. As things stand right now, this issue represents a hidden subsidy from large communities to small ones. If re-elected on October 1st, I will push for a firm commitment to an accelerated timeline for achieving infrastructure funding fairness.
Question: What steps will you take to ensure that communities have tenure to all public lands within their boundaries to meet community development needs?
Answer: Not all community governments have the capacity to take over land use planning from the GNWT, but Yellowknife clearly does, and the devolution of this responsibility is long overdue. Our Territorial Government fought for the devolution of responsibilities from Ottawa for the exact same reasons that it must now devolve land tenure fully to the City of Yellowknife – most decisions are best made by those who do the work day in and day out. To suggest otherwise is to uphold a paternalistic way of thinking that does nothing but impede growth. If re-elected on October 1st I’ll work with my colleagues to ensure that a commitment is made to providing tenure to all lands in within the municipal boundary early in the life of the next assembly.
Question: What actions and programs established so far do you think are working, and what needs to be done differently to address these issues of homelessness, addictions and mental health? How would you prioritize or sequence the actions you feel are needed, and how would you balance these with other GNWT priorities? How will you support the City’s 10-year plan to end homelessness?
Answer: Excellent work has been done by the GNWT and City in recent years to work together and introduce new services and programming. Housing First, Street Outreach Services and support for programs like the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Fund are making a difference, but wait lists for housing keep growing and addictions issues seem more visible now than ever before in our city’s past. I firmly believe that a managed alcohol program can make a difference and must be tried during the next four years, preferably in conjunction with the construction of a new, expanded Day Shelter and Sobering Centre.
Close co-operation must continue to be encouraged, in no small part because much of the new funding available through the federal government is only accessible through such partnerships. At the same time, let’s not lose sight of the fact that housing and social services comprise a significant part of the GNWT’s mandate. The GNWT must step up and re-affirm it’s leadership on these files.
Question: What is your overall vision for economic development in the NWT, and how does community economic development in Yellowknife fit with that? What will you do if elected to ensure that a stand-alone university campus is built in Yellowknife and the university is funded adequately to be successful? Cost and reliability of electricity is a major concern for businesses and residents; how would you work to address that?
Answer: Indigenous governments that have settled land rights and self-government agreements are creating cultural, spiritual and economic antonymy quicker than those who have not. It will be a high priority of the 19th Assembly to work toward getting AIP’s and final agreements in place with the Dehcho, Akaitcho and Metis in order to bring certainty for all northerners. This will result in the largest positive impact on the economy, social development and environmental stewardship we have seen in decades and will elevate indigenous peoples that much more toward self-determination. The City of Yellowknife will be the hub for indigenous ingenuity and growth. A polytechnic university can be the cornerstone of that hub. Innovation and technology, impacts of climate change, self-determination and reconciliation, globalization, resource development, manufacturing and many other diversified industries will utilize, develop and apply initiatives that derive from the polytechnic university. The GNWT needs to recognize that a polytechnic university based in Yellowknife has the opportunity to be an international hub for circumpolar excellence in education, innovation, technology and research. The polytechnic itself will be significant economic driver but the creativeness, entrepreneurialism, artistry and academia the flows from the polytechnic will be the ultimate stimulator of economic development, with the Yellowknife being the largest benefactor.