Yellowknife councillors hear input ahead of budget debates

Chris Oland asks councillors to consider a climbing wall at the Yellowknife Fieldhouse in the city's 2017 budget.
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Yellowknife councillors heard input from a handful of locals Monday night as they get ready to debate the 2017 budget.

A draft budget released earlier this month projects a 2.55 per cent tax increase for residents next year.

SEE: Results from the city’s recent budget survey

That translates to an increase of around $45 in local taxes for people with $300,000 homes or around $75 a year for those with $500,000 properties.

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But that that could all change over the course of the next two nights as council decides where to allocate city dollars.

Yvonne Careen speaks to councillors about the need for a gymnasium at École Allain St-Cyr.
Yvonne Careen speaks to councillors about the need for a gym at École Allain St-Cyr.

For the past two years, councillors have maintained a zero per cent increase by significantly trimming the budgets they’ve been given.

On Monday, council heard budget input from five people representing different organizations in the city.

Topics included the need to fund a gymnasium at a local school, a request to resurface the city’s tennis courts and a proposal for a climbing wall at the Yellowknife Fieldhouse.

Yvonne Careen, a representative with the territory’s francophone school board, spoke about the importance of building an appropriately-sized gym at École Allain St-Cyr.

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For the past 27 years, students at the school have had to use other facilities in the absence of their own.

Even though a relatively small gym of 404 square meters is in the works, Careen says a more suitable facility of 476 square meters could be built with $500,000 in funding from the city.

SEE: The city’s entire 2017 draft budget

“Having a more complete school to offer will help us retain present students and attract new families to Yellowknife,” she said.

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Careen says the city has supported similar projects in the past, including the construction of gyms at École St. Patrick High School and Weledeh Catholic School.

The Yellowknife Tennis Club is also looking for support when councillors begin discussing the 2017 budget Tuesday.

Board member John St. Louis revealed an ambitious plan to resurface all eight of the city’s tennis courts with an acrylic material before they degrade any further.

But that could require up to $137,000, with most having to come from the city.

Councillors will spend the next two nights going over the 2017 budget line-by-line before it’s expected to be adopted Dec. 12.

They’ll also take into consideration feedback that was gathered during a pair of open houses and online surveys in November.

Some of the larger capital expenditures up for debate include $1.9 million to revitalize 50 Street, $3.6 million in land fund projects and nearly $10 million in water and sewer infrastructure.

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