• 2018 Municipal Political Forums
    Hosted by the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce

  • In The Media:
    CBC. (October 3, 2018). Candidates discuss rebuilding downtown, lack of hotels during Yellowknife mayoral forum. 
    Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/election-forum-yellowknife-1.4848683

    NNSL. (October 2, 2018). Mayoral candidates make their pitches to the business community. 
    Retrieved from: https://www.nnsl.com/yellowknife-municipal-election/mayoral-candidates-make-their-pitches-to-the-business-community/


    100.1 The Moose. (October 2, 2018). Second Mayoral Forum Tonight. 
    Retrieved from: https://www.myyellowknifenow.com/32632/second-mayoral-forum-tonight/

    100.1 The Moose. (October 5, 2018). Chamber Hosts First Councillor Forum. 
    Retrieved from: https://www.myyellowknifenow.com/32744/chamber-hosts-first-councillor-forum/

  • Mayoral-Business-Political-Forum-w540.jpg
  • The 2018 Mayoral Business Political Forum took place on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018, at Northern United Place.

    You can watch the live stream of the forum on our facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/ykchamber/videos/1906195309675941/

  • Councillor-Business-Political-Forum-Copy-w540.jpg
  • The 2018 Councillor Business Political Forum took place on Thursday, October 4th, 2018, at Northern United Place.

    You can watch the live stream of the forum on our facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/ykchamber/videos/481269069041574/


    Councillors were also given the opportunity to submit answers to our four questions in writing. Their answers can be found below:

    Dane Mason

    Without discussing the obvious need for a Visitor Information Services Centre and the City’s efforts to establish a Destination Marketing Organization – what will you do to make Yellowknife a more tourist-friendly City?

    • Clean up the picture of the town that is presented to tourists. This can be achieved by taxing derelict and abandoned lots to encourage their clean-up and sale to developers and giving tax breaks to developers. 
    • Improve access to low-budget but essential tourist-friendly amenities, such as public washrooms, Wi-Fi access, and an airport shuttle
    • Open up a new market of tourism by encouraging the development of a youth hostel.


    The City’s 2019 budget will be one of your first major tasks as a newly elected Council. What are your budget priorities and thoughts on property taxes?

    Currently, whether through direct taxation or fees, it seems in many cases we’re taxing growth, rather than encouraging growth and benefiting together off the increased capacity.  I would like to see major projects pegged to planned growth, rather than planned rate hikes. We’re making next to nothing on our collection of abandoned and vacant lots. Encouraging them to be sold and developed would change this, as property values will increase through development, meaning we can expect increased revenue without a rate hike. 

    In a 2014 report, the GNWT concluded that it is under-funding community governments by a total of 40 million dollars annually. This includes the City of Yellowknife, which the report states the GNWT under funds by 11.4 million dollars each year. What steps will you take to ensure that this funding gap is closed?

    Lobby as a municipal government, and partner with any other community organizations to reinforce the need.

    As a City Councillor, how will you make Yellowknife a more attractive place for business investment?

    First, call resolution. The basic idea is to deal with the customer the first time, so you don't double your efforts on a second call, triple them on a third, etc. One main rule is you only do warm transfers (a warm transfer is when you call over to the next person, make sure they can answer the phone, and relay any pertinent information before transferring the customer and introducing them to the new representative). This means two things: people don't have to repeat themselves several times on a call, so they're happier and easy to deal with, and they don't get their call dropped into a dead end, and have to call back and waste everyone's time, the City’s and their own, trying to get back to the place they were dropped off at. Implementing a policy like this at City Hall would be an easy, and free, win for both City Hall and the rest of us.

     I work in policy for a living and modernizing the city’s policy environment for attracting business, development, and tourism growth will be my major priorities. I will encourage an overhaul of development incentives, taxation, regulation requirements, and make the documents that comprise the City’s policy environment publicly accessible, so we can address what needs to change together. 

    Edwin Castillo

    Without discussing the obvious need for a Visitor Information Services Centre and the City’s efforts to establish a Destination Marketing Organization – what will you do to make Yellowknife a more tourist-friendly City?

    Without stating the obvious need for a Visitors Center I believe Yellowknife can be marketed as a tourist friendly community only with input from strategic stakeholders including Yellowknives Dene First Nation, NWT Tourism Association, the GNWT, local Tourist Operators and the general business community including the YK Chamber of Commerce. This collaboration is necessary to make our city a more enjoyable, inviting, welcoming and safe experience for visitors. If Yellowknife is to become a prime destination location it should it be showcased and marketed as such with quality level of services and attractions that are available, affordable and accessible. I believe this would include making the downtown core more attractive, consideration of licensed short-term rentals (such as airBnBs) and also establishing ours as an international airport.

    The City’s 2019 budget will be one of your first major tasks as a newly elected Council. What are your budget priorities and thoughts on property taxes?
    My budget priorities on property tax focus on the cost of living issue. Because of the cost of living concern, I believe in keeping property taxes in check and I would not be in favor of raising them especially if we need to attract investment and grow our population base. However, in looking at the budget, I think there are cost-efficiencies and improvements that can be recognized especially in view of operational costs. Of course, our city cannot continue to operate and develop with continuous cost-cutting measures and without additional revenues sources so I am not opposed to 1) raising user fees so long as there is continuous assurance in the quality in the level of services that is being provided and 2) seeking new but fair revenue sources such as land sales, royalties, and the proposed accommodation levy that has for some time been utilized by many jurisdictions. With respect to new capital projects we need to maintain objectivity in their ongoing risks, costs and benefits in view of unforeseen changes and other options. It is paramount that with limited resources we leverage our capacity through collaboration and partnerships with key stakeholders.

    In a 2014 report, the GNWT concluded that it is under-funding community governments by a total of 40 million dollars annually. This includes the City of Yellowknife, which the report states the GNWT under funds by 11.4 million dollars each year. What steps will you take to ensure that this funding gap is closed?

    To ensure the funding gap of $11.4 million by the GNWT is closed, it is necessary to continue to work closely with the NWT Association of Municipalities and other local organizations who are also being underfunded directly and indirectly. Recognizing the GNWT is also constrained by funding issues, It is important to press not only the GNWT but also that the Federal Government address the significant issues of homelessness, health, public safety, transportation, education, public works for which they have a territorial/federal responsibility as it affects our communities. Moreover, we should in tandem work with our MLAs to ensure we continue to receive our Fair level of funding to enable the city to maintain and sustain our needs for residents and non-residents; otherwise, programs and services will deteriorate with rising costs and make it even more burdensome for Yellowknife taxpayers.

    As a City Councillor, how will you make Yellowknife a more attractive place for business investment?

    There are several prospects that I believe would make the city a more attractive place for business. These essentially center on businesses being able to trust the city to increase their chances of success that in turn will also enhance the city’s development and growth.  In partnership with key organizations such as the YK Chamber of Commerce, the YK Dene First Nations, and the GNWT, there needs clarity, certainty and consistency with the programs and services that are available for businesses. This would include plans for incubator malls to help business with start-up resources, including commercial loans and information; alleviating “red-tape” in regulations and the development licensing and permitting process; assistance in available and affordable land, space and accommodation; grants and incentives to help defray operational costs especially home-business support; and also improving the image of important areas such as the downtown core to draw more customers and visitors.   Business also need to be encouraged to stay in the city with their families so there needs to be a holistic, integrated approach in support of good homes, safe neighborhoods, culture, arts, recreation, the natural environment and general community.

    Mark Bogan

    Without discussing the obvious need for a Visitor Information Services Centre and the City’s efforts to establish a Destination Marketing Organization – what will you do to make Yellowknife a more tourist-friendly City?
    Increasing tourism is important to City. The NWT has some of the highest rates of drug and alcohol consumption, family violence and crime rates in Canada. Our families complain how the they do feel safe within our downtown core. Not the attributes that support business investment. As a social worker some of my duties are to investigate how other Countries Are improving social conditions within their Cities and Communities. My duty would be to present my findings plus recommendations to the GNWT Justice and Social Service Committee.

    As starting point, the NWT does not support a Universal Territorial Wellness Centre for the Addicted. My position would be for the City of Yellowknife to present examples of successful wellness centres to the Territorial Government, suggest the centre begin small by suggesting six beds, measure its effectiveness, and move forward. I am of opinion how the current displacement model does not suite the addicted well I would also look forward to working with Margaret Mercredi and the Yellowknife Dene to discuss and form a partnership with a goal pointing to a year round indigenous lodge along the North Arm. By building a road, or extending an existing road off the highway to the lake could also foster access to the grid.

    The Hotel or accommodation levy will bring additional moneys for tourism projects.

    Other ideas include a City owned pontoon boat to showcase our houseboat community plus surrounding area.

    We have year round world class fishing, aurora plus wildlife sightings. It is our responsibility to increase accessibility and showcase this. Social media will play an important role in achieving these goals.

    I was please to hear how the GNWT plan to invest in the arts during the course of the next ten years. This will undoubtedly increase jobs within our local and smaller communities while increasing tourism.

    Our Mayoral Candidates made many promises regarding increasing tourism within this City. As City Councillor it would be my duty to hold the Mayor accountable.

    Inclusiveness, accessibility and responsiveness with our tourism stakeholders is a large piece of my platform.  

    The City’s 2019 budget will be one of your first major tasks as a newly elected Council. What are your budget priorities and thoughts on property taxes?
    I am not in favour of raising property taxes or user fees. My platform is to reduce frivolous expenses and avoid tax increases. Some mayoral-council candidates are supporting a one hundred and fifty million recreational centre. This will raise taxes.

    It is my intent to reach out to various stakeholders, education policing recreational and social services to have a compressive community voice in improving Yellowknife. It is my conviction that to have a better Yellowknife we need to come together as a community, examine the challenges that face us and seek solutions. My hopes is for voters to elect a balanced council.

    In a 2014 report, the GNWT concluded that it is under-funding community governments by a total of 40 million dollars annually. This includes the City of Yellowknife, which the report states the GNWT under funds by 11.4 million dollars each year. What steps will you take to ensure that this funding gap is closed?
    In my opinion the money has been available for over thirty years. I am not wishing to sound off as a single position candidate, however, as mentioned the NWT has the highest drug and alcohol rates, plus family violence rates in Canada.

    In turn this has lead to increase in crime.

    The alcohol/drug plus family violence rates remain un-changed during this timeline.

    The departments and Justice and Social Services spends over 11.2 million dollars’ annually with administration and services fees.

    My intent again is to bring my research as a Social Worker in these areas and present my findings to the Justice and Social Service Committee, recommend programs with a proven track record and where practical see to their implementation.

    As a City Councillor, how will you make Yellowknife a more attractive place for business investment?
    Our downtown core lacks substance. Our families complain of safety issues and avoid this area. On the surface, it is my belief how investors might sense the same. As mentioned, my priority lies there.

    There is also a need for improving zoning by laws within Kam Lake Industrial Park and along the Old Airport Road.

    Future city planning must also improve . If we are to build new area such as Niven Lake they must include services such as convenience store or perhaps a strip mall.

    I do not support the current business tax rates. There should be some wiggle room to lower the cost of doing business.

    Inclusiveness, responsiveness and forming a partnership with the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce is the key when improving business opportunities within Yellowknife.

    Rommel Silvero

    Without discussing the obvious need for a Visitor Information Services Centre and the City’s efforts to establish a Destination Marketing Organization – what will you do to make Yellowknife a more tourist-friendly City?
    To make Yellowknife a more tourist-friendly City:

    • - The City must create partnerships with neighboring communities such as N'dilo, Dettah, and Behchoko to create communal tourism content and adventures incorporating Northern culture and northern lifestyle (bannock making, Dene games, fish filleting, meat drying, learning aboriginal language, drum making, drum playing, learning natural medicines, etc). In addition to indigenous heritage, encourage multicultural participation sharing ethnic arts, culture, language, food, costumes, etc. as additional attractions. This is to add to existing popular activities such as Aurora Viewing, dogsledding, ice fishing, fishing, hunting, etc.
    • - The on-going challenges we face with social issues and addiction present in downtown Yellowknife must be continually addressed by increasing foot patrol to make the tourists feel safe downtown. 
    • - Yellowknife should be able to accommodate increasing numbers of visitors. 
    • - Signage providing directions for tourists.

    The City’s 2019 budget will be one of your first major tasks as a newly elected Council. What are your budget priorities and thoughts on property taxes?
    Needs first before wants. Any property tax increases should be reasonable and affordable. My stand in property taxes is to see only small incremental increases over the years. Cost of living in Yellowknife is high and I don't want to see further unreasonable increases being passed on to residents.

    In a 2014 report, the GNWT concluded that it is under-funding community governments by a total of 40 million dollars annually. This includes the City of Yellowknife, which the report states the GNWT under funds by 11.4 million dollars each year. What steps will you take to ensure that this funding gap is closed?
    The city must work around the budget, discretionary spending should be minimized, and must increase efficiencies in all program areas ensuring services are effectively delivered at a minimum cost. The city should look into other revenue opportunities such as reviewing user fee areas if there are legislated price increases allowed and be careful NOT to pass on the burden to the residents and businesses by unreasonable tax increases. Reductions if needed should have zero or minimal impact to workers. And city must be careful with decisions if borrowing is required. The city should lobby to GNWT to review the allocation for Yellowknife to ensure our city receives the right portion we should be receiving from the GNWT pot of funding.

    As a City Councillor, how will you make Yellowknife a more attractive place for business investment?
    To make Yellowknife a more attractive place for business investment, the city can:

    • make the application process for business licence/permits easier and eliminating any red tapes at the city level
    • initiate better coordinated processes with the territorial government on business requirements
    • support on options for lower power rates which is a major cost for operations thereby reducing operational business costs
    • review city land pricing policy and mill rates for land properties
    • continue to participate in the collective effort in tackling social issues and addiction in the downtown area 
    • continue the program "win a space" to encourage entrepreneurial spirit and help start-up business owners to pursue creative business ideas