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Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce Municipal Election Platform 2022

 

Platform:
The Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 Municipal Election platform is based on engagement with our membership of almost 300 local businesses, our Strategic Plan and building on our past advocacy promoting growth for the City of Yellowknife. We’ve identified five issues that should be addressed by the next City Council and that we believe candidates for the upcoming municipal election should consider when building their election platforms. We believe these issues need to be addressed to strengthen the Yellowknife business community and contribute to the long-term prosperity of our City.
The 5 key issues we believe candidates for City Council and the Mayoral Office should include in their platforms and address once elected are:
1.      Plan for impending mine closures
2.      Support downtown revitalization
3.      Bring new residential, commercial, and industrial lots to market
4.      Promote business development
5.      Address labour shortages
We believe that the key to Yellowknife’s prosperity is growth – by increasing our population we can both expand our tax base, reduce the tax burden on individual residents, and increase the customer base for our business community.  This theme is woven throughout our five key issues. Each of these issues cannot be dealt with in isolation – there is interplay between them and they each affect how our City grows. Achieving these objectives during the term of the next City Council will be particularly important in light of the impending closure of the Diavik and Ekati mines – the greatest economic challenge Yellowknife has faced in a generation.
The commitments that each candidate makes during this municipal campaign are critically important for Yellowknife businesses. The Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce will host a forum for all candidates in early October where we will address these issues and ask for the candidates' stance on our five priority areas.
1.   Plan for Impending Mine Closures
Mining operations in the NWT contribute 33% of the NWT's GDP (as of 2018). Yellowknife’s economy is closely linked to that of the NWT. There is no single development in the works to offset the scaling back of Ekati mine in 2024 and the closure of Diavik mine in 2025. Future Councils will need to be proactive in foreseeing and addressing the effects of these closures including on real estate and housing. The number of Yellowknifers employed by the mines is one potent area of concern which is only exacerbated by the number of Yellowknife businesses whose profitability is directly linked to mining operations.
We believe candidates should:
  • Plan for closure of the diamond mines and their impact on the broader economy
  • Grow and support alternate sectors of the economy where there is room for growth and over which the City has some control such as in the tourism and construction sectors
  • Take advantage of the economic opportunities inherent in remediation
2.   Support downtown revitalization
The Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce strongly believes that revitalizing our downtown and supporting those businesses who are in the downtown area is key to promoting Yellowknife as a business-friendly city, attracting labour to live and work in Yellowknife, making our city more welcoming to tourists and contributing to the City’s growth.
We believe candidates should:
  • Expedite the development of a plan to deploy the Downtown Development Reserve, $910,00 and the Revitalization Initiative Reserve, $2,416,000
  • Facilitate acquisition of City-owned land in the downtown, promoting its development
  • Seriously consider the problem of increased theft, loitering, vandalism, and threats of violence to businesses in the downtown core. Develop substantive solutions to address these issues even if they entail legislative changes such as changing or expanding the purview of the city’s Municipal Enforcement Division
3.   Bring new residential, commercial, and industrial lots to market
Lack of access to land in and around Yellowknife results in scant development opportunity within the city limits. This makes it exceedingly difficult for developers to further grow our city and ensure adequate housing options available. This lack of access to land on which to build and the stress it puts on housing availability exacerbates the already high cost of living and doing business in our City.
We believe candidates should:
  • Examine access to land issues in the City and work to remove barriers to development
  • Support and expedite land transfers from the GNWT to the City of Yellowknife
  • Be proactive and creative in bringing lands to market
  • Promote a culture that embraces creative solutions and comes to industry to solicit insight into issues developers may be facing
4.   Promote Business Development
The out-going Council made great strides in promoting business development with the review and successful revision of the Zoning By-law. This was a large, multi-year undertaking and one which the Chamber supported. Future Councils should continue to support this type of initiative and seek out similar opportunities to reduce red tape and streamline development processes.
We believe candidates should:
  • Develop and support business incentives that incorporate feedback from the business community
  • Streamline development requirements
  • Support strategic investment in infrastructure
5.   Address Labour Shortages
Labour shortages are being felt in all corners of the Yellowknife economy. Employers are having difficulty finding people to fill both skilled and unskilled jobs.
We believe candidates should:
  • Support initiatives that encourage the attraction and retention skilled and unskilled labour
  • Lobby the GNWT to work more actively with the Federal government to remove bureaucratic barriers to immigration for both skilled and unskilled labour
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