I want to follow up with my conclusions reached after speaking to people while door knocking in neighbourhoods along the Ingraham Trail.
First I want to make the general point that I see the people living along the Ingraham Trail need political representation. One day, in the future, you will elect a mayor. You are not there yet. As far as I am concerned, the acting mayor responsibilities should fall to the Yellowknife North MLA. Such acting duties usually fall to the person in position to help out until a better solution is found.
The taxpayers of the Ingraham Trail contribute to their MLA’s salary. This gives them the right to special representation. I am not suggesting the Ingraham Trail is more important than Old Town, Niven Lake, Latham Island or Summit Estates but these areas all enjoy the protection of the substantial resources offered by the City of Yellowknife in times of emergency. Ingraham Trail families and homes are not under the capital umbrella, as past city council decisions have shown. Whoever your MLA may be after the election, I urge you to impress upon them this special responsibility. I would suggest quarterly community meetings on the Trail or in Yellowknife, or Zoom if that works.
Following are the top issues raised with me.:
Forest Fire threat
Firstly, were I your MLA in a wildfire situation as we experienced this summer, I would not leave the area unless forced by penalty of law. Ensuring those in the firefighting command and GNWT support teams include Ingraham Trail in consideration of firefighting strategies is essential. The Ingraham Trail is as isolated and vulnerable as any NWT community on a road that ends and can be cut off by a wildfire, just like Yellowknife. There has to be more formal communication channels from the GNWT to Trail residents. I was told many families were left in the dark about GNWT plans. If evacuated, they must be part of the communication plan. I would inform all neighborhoods in the Yellowknife North riding as well. My first step if elected MLA would be to gather information from Trail residents on what happened, and when, during the forest fire threats and subsequent evacuation. This information must be included in GNWT reviews on forest fires and evacuation Summer 2023 which will be available to all residents of Yellowknife North.
Gaining title for lease holders
The issue of land title and leases is a perpetually confusing situation. For those who have land titles now, good on them. For those who want title to the land under substantial family assets built over many years, a path will have to be found. In my view, we have to show the importance of the trail by compiling a general list of homes needing titles. Will just make the aside comment that there are potentially 120 lots for homes in total occupied either full-time, or seasonally, and some are now vacant but certainly ripe for development. If they all average the same expenditure as a Yellowknife household of $100,000 annually, that’s a $11,900,000 contribution to the Yellowknife economy. Not chicken feed!
Value for taxes paid
There were comments and questions about the services received for taxes. Certainly there is an understanding that taxes are much lower than in Yellowknife and Trail residents can take care of their own services. I was asked about snow clearing services in those neighbourhoods not now getting them. and some of the snow-clearing services seem to be inconsistent. Residential fire and medical services were points of discussion but again, there is an understanding Trail living leaves behind such expensive essential services. Again, that’s why it is important to calculate what the Trail brings to the Yellowknife economy before making decisions not to provide services. We do want to grow the territory and offering a variety of lifestyles, so prevalent in Whitehorse, will help keep people in the NWT and attract others.
Drinking and driving by young people during summer
We all know what goes on at Cameron Falls and along the trail during the long days of summer. I would commit to standing in the assembly each spring sitting and reminding the police of the potential for young people to die get injured in car wrecks, the youth of Yellowknife mainly. Innocent travelers both seasonal and Trail residents, are also put at risk. Signage is a good way to get the message across to drivers that they will be watched and caught if they take a risk that puts everyone else at risk.