Prospector and longtime Yellowknife resident Walt Humphries says he’s prepared to stand for mayor to save the Robertson headframe.
“If I have to, I’ll run for mayor and I’ll save this damned headframe,” said Humphries, president of the NWT Mining Heritage Society, on Monday.
“I know it can be done, we just have to figure out how. And I’d have a nice, simple platform: save the headframe.”
A municipal election is, indeed, on the horizon.
Humphries did, however, make it clear that his would be a single-issue campaign and, potentially, a short term in office.
“As soon as that headframe was saved I’d step down as mayor because I really hate all this bull in meetings,” he said.
“I’ve wasted a lot of my life coming to these meetings, where you do the same thing over and over again. For 10 years, this has been going on.
“It’s time we, you know, the old bush expression: either do your business or get off the pot. Save the headframe and do it now.”
Humphries was reacting to the news that the big, red headframe – a signature of the Yellowknife skyline since 1977 – could not be saved by the city owing to a legal obstacle.
The headframe sits on the site of the old Con Mine, a gold mine which closed in 2003, where a clean-up operation is ongoing.
To take ownership of the headframe and preserve it, the city would need to assume all environmental and financial liability at the site, absolving current owner Newmont Mining Corp of all responsibility in future.
However, the city has been advised that it does not have the legal authority, as a municipality, to give that guarantee.
Officials are now trying to establish whether the territorial government can do anything to protect the headframe.
Con Mine’s land, once cleaned up, reverts to territorial ownership according to city officials, which may make the GNWT a more likely candidate to step in.
Another option involves taking down the headframe and later, once the clean-up is complete, reintroducing a replica – potentially at a different location.