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GNWT, city councillors discuss 911 service implementation

The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs made a presentation on their progress with implementing 911 services territory-wide to city councillors at a municipal service committee meeting Monday.

RELATED: Yellowknife MLA: GNWT ‘delaying progress’ by not rolling out 911

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They plan to launch across all 33 communities in the Northwest Territories by 2019; but there’s still a lot of work to do to make that a reality.

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One is finding a physical location for a primary Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) where calls would be directed to.

A GNWT study from 2015 found that Yellowknife was best suited for the job as it already has a call centre, but the department wants a more recent study produced before they commit to a spot.

There is also an option to build a new location altogether.

The staffing requirements for this would be 12 full time employees, costing around $1 million annually.

To convert Yellowknife’s call centre into a 911 PSAP would require the hiring of six new positions, adding floor space in the building, improving amenities such as kitchens and bathrooms, and getting additional equipment and furniture.

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“It’s important to clarify that should we proceed with the City of Yellowknife and should council support that, we would be ensuring that the city will not assume any additional financial or operational burdens for any of the PSAP operations,” said Eleanor Young, deputy minister of municipal and community affairs.

“In other words, we’re not intending any negative impact to the city by going into this partnership… if that’s the way we go.”

Basic plans moving forward

There are different 911 plans that could be rolled out, from basic services, to what’s called a next-generation plan that would allow for communication with dispatchers through text, images and video.

The territorial government plans to roll out basic 911 services ‘as quickly as possible’, but have budgeted to adapt to the more technologically advanced model down the line.

According to the GNWT, the next generation plan would take up to an estimated five years to implement in the territory.

In the 2017-2018 budget, the GNWT set aside $616,000 to implement the service territory-wide.

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