My platform broadly lays out the key priority areas I would work on over the next term of council if re-elected, divided into three main categories. I believe a conversation about economic development and diversification in our city should be a top election issue and priority of council over the next term, and have therefore placed it at the top of my platform. In specific cases, I put forward budget items for the future council's consideration in the 2019 budget which will help achieve these goals.
Economic Development and Diversification
Our city is going to be facing significant economic challenges in the near future. Diversifying our economy and encouraging economic growth now will ensure we are not reacting to these challenges and trying to play catch-up when it is too late. I have focused a significant amount of my energy in the past term on economic development, and I intend to continue to build upon this work if re-elected.
Economic Development Strategy
The city's current Economic Development Strategy needs to be renewed. I put this forward as a 2019 budget item for consideration by the upcoming council, and hope to provide continued leadership on this file. Redeveloping this strategy will help the city to allocate resources where they're needed to foster economic growth and diversification.
Tourism is booming in Yellowknife, and the city has made great progress on this file over council's past term, with the planned establishment of a destination marketing organization (DMO), and significant work towards establishing a hotel levy which will fund the DMO. This great work will significantly increase our ability to attract visitors to our city.
I would like to see the city start to turn our focus towards improving the tourist experience, including re-establishment of a visitor's centre in the short term, and also working with various stakeholders to improve and build upon services offered to tourists.
Strengthening our partnerships with other communities in the NWT will help to expand tourism offerings and attract more visitors to our region. I was incredibly proud to be a part of the first council-to-council meeting between the Community Government of Behchoko and Yellowknife City Council, and regular meetings with the community governments of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, and I would like to continue to work towards strengthening these relationships for the benefit of all of our communities.
I have been a strong voice in favour of exploring the potential economic benefits of establishing a university in Yellowknife since the 2015 election. I put forward the University Feasibility Study for the 2018 budget, which was approved by council and is currently underway. I have since been appointed by my colleagues as chair of the Post-Secondary Advisory Committee, a coalition of Yellowknife citizens tasked with advising council on the Feasibility Study and positioning Yellowknife as a knowledge centre. I plan to continue this very important work if re-elected.
Strengthening our Economic Development Department
Currently, the city's economic development department is paired with communications and policy. While this structure may work, I would like administration to explore ways to strengthen and build upon our economic development expertise and activity, specifically related to tourism, downtown revitalization, strategic development, business incubation, and building partnerships with other communities and levels of government. I would support and have actively encouraged allocating more resources to this department.
Livability and Sustainability
Cost of Living
I continue to support implementing a program to help Yellowknifers perform energy-efficiency retrofits to their homes to help reduce the cost of living. It appears that after years of advocacy on the part of the city, the GNWT will be bringing forward enabling legislation for this in the near future.
Housing is a key factor for cost of living issues. We need to work with our partners at the Territorial and Federal levels to investigate options for bringing more low-cost housing options to Yellowknife’s market, such as housing co-operatives. I would also like the city to investigate and implement measures which would result in more rental stock coming to market.
While high cost of living affects all of us in Yellowknife, it disproportionately affects people in lower income brackets. I am in favour of policy and measures which specifically target poverty reduction, and reduce economic barriers to city facilities, programming, and services.
Every year, I have carefully scrutinized the budget to ensure we are budgeting efficiently and prudently. I will continue to ensure the city's budget ensures we are investing strategically and making the best use of your tax dollars.
Downtown revitalization remains at the top of my mind for our city for good reason. While we still have a long way to go, I think it's important to recognize some of the significant steps we made over the past three years. The city made significant progress on social issues with our various partners over the past three years, including adoption of the 10-year plan to end homelessness, establishment of a housing first program, establishment of the Street Outreach Services van, and the soon-to-be established Sobering Centre. I am committed to continuing to build upon this great work if re-elected.
I believe the city is becoming well-positioned for strategic investment and development in the downtown. I believe an approach which fosters and incentivizes investment in our downtown core is the best approach to achieve these goals. A multi-use civic building such as a university, library, and arts and cultural centre, or similar combination, could potentially be the "anchor tenant" that helps to spark investment and revitalization of our downtown.
Trail Development and Connectivity
I have been a strong advocate for trail development and connectivity, and supported including a trails connectivity strategy in the 2018 budget, which will help inform strategic development of active transportation routes, with the ultimate goal of having a complete and connected active transportation network in the city.
The City conducted a Waste Audit in 2018 which will help direct waste management activities over the next number of years. While waste management may not be at the top of people's minds during elections, it has huge implications for the city's bottom line. Strategic and progressive waste management activities will help to prevent significant cost increases over time. I plan to support implementation of the Strategic Waste Management Plan, including expanded municipal compost services, tiered waste bins which will allow people who generate less waste to reduce their monthly bills, and other progressive options laid out in the plan.
Community Energy Plan Implementation
I supported numerous initiatives from the Community Energy Plan in budgets throughout the last term, including pellet boiler retrofits, LED lighting retrofits, and other initiatives which save the city money and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
While council ultimately decided to remove energy-efficient building requirements from the building bylaw, I voted against this change, and want to see requirements reinstated as we revise the building bylaw during the next term, which will effectively promote building to high energy efficiency standards.
More Effective Governance
The experience I have gained over the last term has provided me with the tools to be more effective as a councillor going forward, and to help council as a whole be more effective, which really is the key value an incumbent can and should bring to the table. Recently, through my work towards a master's degree in conflict analysis and management, I have been learning in-depth about leadership and organizational structure, and have researched council-administration relations. This work has been helpful in developing my understanding of how to effectively govern our city.
I put forward a Governance Audit for the 2019 budget for consideration by the upcoming council. The goal of the audit would be to review the overall structure of the organization, council and administration's roles, provide advice for how to better align our resources to meet council's goals and objectives, and advise council as to how we can be most effective in our decision- making. I put this item forward because I believe it will significantly improve the decision making of council, and help us to better focus our discussions on the important policy matters that we need to be spending the majority of our energy on.
There is a lot of work I've been proud of over the past term which I haven't captured here, in particular my work as chair of the Heritage Committee. The Heritage Committee made significant strides towards recognition and celebration of the rich indigenous history of our city, in particular through the Intercultural Placemaking Plan, which will culminate in recognition of a number of sites of historical significance to the Yellowknives Dene First Nation - the first recognitions of their kind in the history of the committee. I am proud to have chaired the committee through that work, which couldn't have been achieved without significant contributions from the YKDFN representatives on the committee, and our dedicated committee members. The committee and city have also made significant contributions to Dene Nahjo's Urban Hide Tanning Camp, a wonderful project which brings the traditional Dene practice of moose hide tanning into our downtown. I would continue to strongly support these types of projects if re-elected.