After seven terms and nearly two decades on Yellowknife City Council, Bob Brooks has announced that this year will be his last on the job.
First elected to council in 1991, Brooks is Yellowknife’s longest-sitting councillor.
His tenure would have been even lengthier were it not for failed mayoral bids in 1994 and 2000.
But Brooks says he’s given what he could to the city in nearly 20 years, and the time has come for him to step away.
“After nearly 20 years, it’s time for some new blood and hopefully we’ll get that in the next election,” Brooks told Moose FM.
“Municipal politics is something that you live on a day-to-day basis when you see people in the grocery stores and in the streets. They give you real problems and it’s up to you as a council member to try and solve some of those problems.
“I’m hoping that after 20 years, I helped people solve some of their problems.”
Looking back, Brooks considers improvements to city trails and the downtown core among his greatest achievements on council.
He’s also proud of the way the city has made more public space available to Yellowknifers.
“When I first started we talked about getting additional gym space and facilities for city use and that happened almost immediately. I also had an interest to get a new and proper city transit system in place which is there and growing,” he said.
Brooks says the highlight of his time on council, though, was when the city took the lead in facilitating water and sewer replacement in Northlands Trailer Park.
When the private development needed to replace its water and sewer lines in 2012, the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation stopped insuring trailers in the park because of the state of the infrastructure.
By the end of the summer, Brooks and council passed a by-law that allowed the city to secure funding for the trailer park and the $15.9 million project.
“I think helping Northlands was the biggest achievement during my time on council because we helped to prevent anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 people from becoming homeless if that project failed.”
But Brooks says he won’t be leaving without regrets.
He believes more projects could have been advanced sooner had there not been communication gaps between council and residents.
“Communication, the lack of communication and miscommunication is the root of all evil. I would’ve liked to have had our communications department brought on a lot sooner than we did.”
Once community politics are behind him, Brooks says he’ll be ready to advance his career as a senior policy analyst with the GNWT’s Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.
But that doesn’t mean he won’t be following October’s election closely.
“Somebody told me you can’t take it personally but in my mind a municipal government is the closest government to the people. When I’m looking for a new candidate, I’ll be looking for someone who is personally invested in the city and its residents and is personally willing to do what it takes to get the job done.”