Vote Growth is the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Territorial Election platform. Through engaging with our membership of almost 400 local businesses, we’ve identified five key issues and proposed solutions that we believe will strengthen the Yellowknife business community and contribute to long-term prosperity.
The 5 key issues are:
- Liquor Licensing & Regulations;
- Fibre Redundancy;
- Community Government Underfunding;
- Post-Secondary Transformation (Yellowknife-Based University); and,
- Land availability.
We believe that the key to Yellowknife’s prosperity is growth – increasing our population and attracting more business and investment to Yellowknife. This theme is woven throughout each of the key issues we’ve identified.
The commitments that each candidate makes during this territorial campaign are critically important for Yellowknife businesses. That is why we’re asking all candidates in Yellowknife ridings to answer one, straightforward question for each of the key issues we’ve identified:
If elected, will you commit to following through on the recommendations set forth in Vote Growth? Why or why not?
Letters of Support:
Thank you to the NWT Chamber of Commerce for providing a letter supporting our Vote Growth recommendations. View their letter here.
Thank you to CDETNO for providing a letter supporting our Vote Growth recommendations. View their letter here.
Thank you to the City of Yellowknife for providing a letter of support for our Vote Growth recommendations. View their letter here.
In The Media:
CBC. (2019). Summer telecommunication outages cost Yellowknife economy $10M, says Chamber. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/yellowknife-lost-millions-telecom-outages-1.5269385
CBC. (2019). Yellowknife Chamber calls on candidates to back university in city, build fibre line. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/chamber-platform-candidates-nwt-1.5269395
NNSL. (2019). Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce reveals election wish list. Retrieved from: https://nnsl.com/yellowknifer/yellowknife-chamber-of-commerce-reveals-election-wish-list/
Responses From Members of the 19th Legislative Assembly:
"Creating a More Reasonable Business Environment for the Sale of Alcohol in Yellowknife:
I appreciate this question may be aimed at business development and I am familiar with regulatory challenges posed by both territorial and municipal governments through our family business. I agree with the recommendations aimed at improving and simplifying the business of alcohol distribution and server training in Yellowknife. I do not agree with changing regulations to allow for minors to be present in Class A establishments. There is already a family dining provision available through Class B licensing. I don’t think having minors in bars (Class A establishments) is of any benefit to them. Perhaps the businesses that want to expand their trade in this area could lobby for another class of liquor license that allows for the creation of “tasting rooms.” I have been to jurisdictions where this activity is directed to tourists and available to family groups because liquor amounts are small, patrons stand, and there are places for children to play outside.
I agree that Yellowknife needs fibre redundancy and the request to have GNWT invest $1.5 million in preparatory work is reasonable. That said, the 2020-2021 capital budget has already been passed by the 18th Assembly so the timing outlined in the request may have to be adjusted.
Community Government Underfunding:
I agree GNWT must create an implementation plan to close the gap in funding identified five years ago through a collaborative evaluation process and that once caught up, community government funding must be indexed to the CPI.
I agree that Aurora College should be transformed into a Polytechnic University and that a new campus be built in Yellowknife.
Transfer Commissioner’s Land to the City of Yellowknife:
My answer is specific to Yellowknife. I recognize the need for the City of Yellowknife to have greater access to land for economic development purposes. My question is whether the City has worked with GNWT on a more efficient process for transferring land as needed and requested. This is a logical first step. I am unclear how transferring all Commissioner’s Land would impact land rights negotiations with Yellowknives Dene First Nation. YKDFN has an interim land withdrawal in place now. When negotiations reach the land quantum and selection stage, the Yellowknives may select parcels that are outside of the interim withdrawal. There needs to be some flexibility in land selection so that the emerging positive relationship between the City and the YKDFN continues. Finally, GNWT will need to retain some land for itself for large infrastructure projects such as the new polytechnic university campus."
"Liquor Licensing & Regulations
I am committed to working towards modernizing our liquor system for all communities in the NWT, while respecting those where a plebiscite has been enacted to restrict possession and sale. It’s a big way we can empower our hospitality and tourism sectors to thrive.
We’ve seen PEI take steps to allow minors into establishments serving alcohol. We’ve seen British Columbia enact common sense training for servers. And we’ve seen Alberta take a much more forward-thinking approach to licensing and supply. We have some good examples to follow, and it’s time we get on-board.
Fibre redundancy is essential for our capital to thrive in the modern economy. Outages cost our economy — mostly small-to-medium size businesses — more than $10 million. And as ticketing manager last year at Folk on the Rocks, I had a firsthand look at the kind of chaos it caused. Addressing that would be a win for our whole territory.
Community Government Underfunding
This sizable gap is hindering the ability of our local community leaders from creating more than 200 jobs and filling in critical staffing shortages. It’s taking away the ability for our community governments deal with important issues, and it’s affecting people’s day-to-day lives. I will push for the gap to be closed in the earliest possible budget cycle.
Post-Secondary Transformation (Yellowknife-Based University)
I want to see a University in our capital — and I don’t want to just see Aurora College rebranded. I want to see an institution that is pan-territorial, where Fort Smith and Inuvik play important roles in a revitalized post-secondary system. I want an institution that plays to our strengths to attract students not just from across Canada, but around the globe. And I want an institution that incentivizes developing skills we need here — like social workers, nurses, and tradespeople. We need to make sure government treats this like the generational opportunity it is — one that can revitalize our capital’s downtown, strengthen our regions rather than divide them, and serve as a hub for our a thriving knowledge economy.
As a government, we’re supposed to empower communities to thrive. Our approach to managing land today achieves the opposite. The transfer of all uncontested lands within municipal boundaries to local governments is key to allowing communities to take over their own planning and development. This will assist long-term community planning, create new economic and social opportunities and setting communities up to grow their revenues without raising new taxes. We need to end the paternalistic approach to community land planning."
"Issue #1 – Creating A More Reasonable Business Environment for The Sale of Alcohol in Yellowknife
The Liquor Act, and its Regulations, need a substantial review and overhaul. I support making that happen in consultation with stakeholders from our business community, including the hospitality and tourism industries. A vibrant hospitality industry attracts new residents, makes current residents happier and delivers a better tourism experience. Updating the Act is an opportunity to create a progressive tool that can support small business start-ups and positively impact festivals and events. The rules should be streamlined, consistent and easy to navigate.
The kind of review I envision will include an opportunity to examine the way liquor is currently purchased through the NWT Liquor Commission for re-sale in the NWT. I believe in seeking solutions that are both efficient and competitive and I believe the current purchasing system can be improved. For example, I want to ensure accountability in the purchasing system for business owners who are investing their capital in order to provide a positive experience for the public.
Issue #2 – Fibre Redundancy
After a summer of internet interruptions, there is little doubt that the NWT would benefit from fibre redundancy. One project that I understand to already be in progress is to connect a fibre line between Dawson city, Yukon and Inuvik which would close the loop with the Mackenzie Valley fibre optic cable. I believe the GNWT needs to see that project through.
I agree that the government should commit in the short term (within the first 12 months of the 19th Assembly) to identifying options that will continue to advance fibre connectivity. The solutions to be sought should include not only Yellowknife connectivity but also connectivity in smaller communities and solutions to the high costs residents and businesses pay across the NWT.
Issue #3 – Community Government Underfunding
It should be seen as a strong show of collaboration that the GNWT through MACA and the municipalities as represented by the NWTAC came together and determined a reasonable formula for community funding. Failing to follow through on that agreement erodes trust between governments that need to work together for communities to thrive. The gap has been reduced but those reductions appear to be ad hoc, rather than by following a plan that would allow for better long-term budget planning on both sides. I would commit to support a plan to bring funding in line with the 2014 formula.
Without knowing the potentially competing priorities of other MLAs or the complete picture for the next budget, it is irresponsible to commit to exactly how or when that the funding gap will be fully resolved. I would support an approach that would see a gradual correction over the term of the Assembly and bearing in mind that needs will naturally have increased over the past five years.
Issue #4 - Post-Secondary Transformation
I support an NWT based polytechnical institution to anchor a knowledge economy, create opportunities for residents, and drive diverse partnerships between governments, industry and communities as well as existing adult learning institutions. I believe any NWT-based institution should include programs in high-demand professions such as trades, nursing and social work. I also think this is an opportunity to be a leader in our areas of particular strength such as rare earth minerals, arctic climate science, permafrost studies and land- based programs. I note that we also need to invest in early childhood education so that students have the tools to be ready for post-secondary. We cannot succeed in one without the other.
It is my understanding that the local governments of Yellowknife, Fort Smith and Inuvik are in contact with one another and are in agreement that all three centres should retain their existing campuses and that Fort Smith should retain the institution’s head office. As a starting point, I would rather work with the municipalities and build good will to move this project forward promptly than take an opposing position that could potentially slow down the entire process.
Issue #5 – Transfer of Commissioners Land to The City of Yellowknife
The current system that the City of Yellowknife must navigate in order to access land within the municipal boundary is cumbersome and inefficient. I see this as a barrier to development and growth. As a starting point, I support streamlining the process for approving city land use and, maybe more importantly, identifying a simplified process for amending plans to be able to respond to emerging needs or innovative development proposals.
Medium to long term during the next Assembly, I believe transferring tenure of the lands within the City’s municipal boundary is a better solution to increase efficiency in both the city government and NWT land administration. I would support creating a plan for this to occur. Actions that can begin immediately include: 1) consultation with Indigenous governments; and 2) confirming whether existing land surveys are suitable for a transfer or whether new surveys will be required because if so, funding for surveys will need to be considered."
Issue #1 –Recommendation: That the GNWT amend the NWT Liquor Regulations to allow minors to enter Class A (liquor primary) establishments, when accompanied by a parent or guardian, until 8:00pm for the purposes of family dining.
I agree that more consistency surrounding the Liquor Licencing Board decision making and distribution policies is important, and ensuring that training for staff is available is a priority. I would support a review of the regulations to allow minors into establishments for the purposes of family dining hours with considerations made to providing a safe, family-friendly environment for children.
Issue #2 –Recommendation:That the GNWT review all informational documents, such as the Handbooks and Application Requirement checklists, to ensure information is specific and detailed;
I agree this is critical and in my Ministerial portfolios I gave direction whenever possible, to stream-line requirements/checklists and information, put documents in plain language, and clearly explain programs/rights and obligations. I believe this work needs to continue across all programs and departments.
That the GNWT conduct a review of the NWT Liquor Licensing Board to determine the most common reasons that liquor license applications are denied and to propose legislative, regulatory, and/or administrative solutions.
I agree that the denial applications, as well as all programs, should be reviewed on a regular basis and legislation and/or regulations (or implementation process) should be amended as appropriate to meet the best interests of business and the general public.
Issue #3 – Recommendation: That the GNWT update their website to include information about the Certificate Alcohol Server program, including course availability and training options;
I have often said the GNWT is not the best at communicating their programs/services. I believe this is a concern that should be considered early in the 19th assembly as this is a major component in our attempts at transparency and accountability.
That the GNWT implement a service standard, so businesses can expect a response to inquiries within 5 business days;
I believe a standard may be in place in most, if not all, GNWT departments. However, if not then yes, we definitely should have service standards for responses throughout the GNWT.
That the GNWT implement a server training program similar to other jurisdictions, with self-study materials and an online test, by March 1st, 2020.
We definitely need an online server training program and if not available within the private market, I would support the work to have this available through the GNWT. I cannot commit to a specific deadline as that is not appropriate until the priorities and workload are defined by the next government.
Issue #4 – Recommendation: That the GNWT work with the liquor shop to implement a documented process that guarantees orders will be filled on time and in full by March 1st, 2020;
The development of a policy regarding this should be a priority and should have reasonable timelines for delivery and identify exceptions that would not allow for successful delivery. As much as possible, I always advocate for having all stakeholders at the table when important decisions are being made.
That the savings from closing the liquor distribution warehouse (approx. $300,000xiv) be passed on to businesses and consumers through product price reductions;
At this time I cannot commit to one distribution for the “savings”. I do agree that we need to review how the funds are being utilized in regards to business/consumer savings and public awareness.
Issue #5 - Recommendation: That the GNWT establish an appeal process for businesses who disagree with the NWT Liquor Licensing Board’s decisions.
Unless the act/regulations state different, I believe an appeal process is always best practice and should be implemented whenever possible. If specific acts do not allow this then this should be reconsidered whenever acts are being implemented or major revisions are conducted.
Platform emailed Sept. 3, 2019. No response to Vote Growth received yet.
Platform emailed Sept. 3, 2019. No response to Vote Growth received yet.
I support the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce Territorial Election Platform with some conditions.
The 5 key issues are:
1. Liquor Licensing & Regulations;
I worked with other Yellowknife MLAs to push for changes to improve opportunities for the hospitality sector, including a visit with the NWT Brewing Company. At the same time, we need a greater investment into addictions program and services and should discuss whether a portion of the revenues are directed or not. I do not support lower liquor pricing as all the evidence shows that increased prices reduce consumption.
2. Fibre Redundancy;
I raised the issue of the need to deliver on the promise of high-speed internet to all of our communities in the Mackenzie Valley. I support building in alternate fibre capacity for Yellowknife to avoid further troublesome outages.
2019 08 14 Member’s Statement Mackenzie Valley Fibre Optic Line to Communities
2019 08 14 Oral Questions Mackenzie Valley Fibre Optic Line to Communities
3. Community Government Underfunding;
I raised this issue many times during the review of the budgets for the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs.
2019-20 Operating Budget Review: https://kevinoreillyframelake.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/2019-02-27-COW-MACA-Municipal-Funding-Gap.pdf
4. Post-Secondary Transformation (Yellowknife-Based University); and, A NWT university was part of my campaign platform in 2015 and I made many statement and raised questions during my first term. I continue to support this initiative and believe it should part of efforts towards a Knowledge Economy where research and development is focused on areas where we excel. This initiative should be one of our top priorities for the 19th Assembly. We also need a larger investment into early childhood development and our education system as a whole to ensure our students are ready for school and post-secondary opportunities.
2019 03 07 Member’s Statement City of Yellowknife University Feasibility and Benefits Study
2018 03 07 Member’s Statement Post-Secondary Education
2019 03 07 Oral Questions Development of an NWT Polytechnic University
2017 02 08 Member’s Statement Proposed University for the NWT
2017 02 08 Oral Questions Post-Secondary Strategic and Action Plan
2016 02 29 Oral Questions Northern Post-Secondary Institutions
5. Land availability.
I sit on the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment which reviewed Bill 46 Public Land Act. I made sure that there is substantive coverage of the land availability issue in the Committee’s report on the Bill (see pages 12-16 of the report link below). This is an issue I intend to purse in the 19th Assembly.
Lastly, I was surprised to see that maximizing northern and local benefits from Giant
Mine remediation was not a key issue as this will be the single largest project ever
undertaken in Yellowknife. I have raised the issue many times in the House:
2019 03 13 Member’s Statement Giant Mine Remediation Benefits
2019 03 13 Oral Questions Giant Mine Remediation Benefits
2018 05 31 Member’s Statement Giant Mine Socio Economic Strategy
2018 05 31 Oral Questions Giant Mine Socio Economic Strategy
2018 03 12 Member’s Statement Giant Mine Remediation Project Socio-Economic Benefits
2018 03 12 Oral Questions Giant Mine Remediation Project Socio-Economic Benefits