So why did it happen Yellowknife City Council was forced to sell a lot for one dollar that it bought in 2014 for $1.4 million? Why did the city also have to buy other empty lots downtown? Why should we care? The idea that my lot on a chunk of rock on Latham Island is worth more than the centre lot of the capital of the NWT, Yellowknife, is a worry. Will our lots go down in value too? Along with our houses?
Unfortunately, this is a direct result of our ever-shrinking economy. That is something the City Of Yellowknife has little control over. The GNWT controls the economy.
What the city does have control over is improving the quality of life and that costs money, which can only come from taxpayers and user fees. Every year more families are moving south due to our dying downtown and rising expenses, and it will get more difficult to attract new people.
We need leadership that can recognize economic opportunity and act upon it. Business experience and knowledge of the North can help unlock the NWT economy. Read more about the sale here!
How did we get here?
The 50-50 lot was sold just over a year ago. The city bought the lot years ago because no one wanted to buy it from the Yellowknife Inn owners. Yellowknifers may remember a FOR SALE sign on the dirt lot with a $1,000,000 price tag. The city bought up other plots of vacant land at the same time. The idea was to develop the lots to reinvigorate the ailing downtown.
What should have been done?
There were many ideas among which should have been the winning idea. That was the cultural center/library (see picture above) and as it turns out, the perfect spot for the visitors center. While the vision from Yellowknife City Hall was there, the will was not there from the GNWT leadership. Logic likely was: ‘Oh more for YK at the expense of regions.” Well if regions where the culture is alive were offered a stake in exhibits, employment, and showcase of culture intended to engage and educate tourists on unique Indigenous heritage, there might have been buy-in.
Look at what our neighbouring territories – Yukon and Nunavut – have done and are doing. The Kwanlin Dün Cultural Center In downtown Whitehorse is billed as The Yukon’s premiere gathering location, hosting a wide range of functions and celebrations. People describe it as the cultural epicentre for the First Nations there, built with First Nations people in mind, a place of cultural significance, conferences, handgames, and even a tourism destination.
The Kwanlin Dün Cultural Center In downtown Whitehorse
Nunavut has awarded a Danish firm the contract to build a 55,000 square foot facility in Iqaluit (pop. 7,500) to showcase Inuit culture to Canada and the world. You can read about it here: https://nunavutheritage.ca/about/background/
What’s the opportunity?
The city has a beautiful library hidden away on the second floor of the same complex. The city has a tourism center in the same complex down the street. There is no hint in the city that half the population of the NWT is Indigenous – Dene, Metis and Inuvialuit – and that Yellowknife is the proud capital.
There’s also a group in town, formed last year, Friends of the Northwest Territories Art Gallery, looking to fund a showcase of Northern Art and artists and hopefully, art treasures adorning the offices of the top staff of the GNWT. This is an idea that will be seized upon, now or later, as a pillar of our capital city. Why not us and now?
Learn More About my Platform
My platform tackles pressing issues in Yellowknife and the NWT, from localized addiction treatment to affordable daycare. I aim to empower local businesses and address labour shortages in both public and private sectors. Acknowledging these interconnected challenges is my first step toward more effective governance.