Yellowknife got to ask another round of questions to it’s four mayoral candidates. Last night, the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce hosted the second mayoral forum. Pre-determined questions first came from the Chamber, then the floor was opened to the audience to ask business related questions. The four candidates, Bob Stewart, Rebecca Alty, Jerald Sibbeston and Adrian Bell all had a chance to answer each of the questions.
With tourism on the rise in Yellowknife, Chamber wanted to know what the winning candidate will do to make Yellowknife a more tourist friendly city. Adrian Bell noted that the city cannot rely on just the aurora to attract stable tourism.
“We’re going to have to turn to the arts community and to the cultural community. We’re going to have to look at our neighbours in behchoko, Dettah and N’dilo. We’re going to have to help them create tourism content. Yellowknife can’t do this on it’s own. This is a globally competitive industry and we’ve got to work with our neighbours to make sure we have world class content beyond our world class aurora.”
The cost of doing business was a topic brought up many times throughout the night. Bob Stewart has owned a pub downtown for three years now. He used that experience to talk about the costs.
“I think realistically for the city, one of the best things you can do is manage your own budget and live within it. Paying off debt and keeping costs down so the property tax rates don’t have to keep going up to have to cover irresponsible capital investment and rising operational costs for unnecessary projects or unnecessary expansions, unnecessary roads, things like that. We just keep a handle on, are we spending our money in the best way to get an economic return. That’s what a good business owner would do in running a city.”
The chamber asked about what the potential mayors would do to attract new business to Yellowknife. Rebecca Alty said communication with new business owners needs to change.
“Through our communications and and economic development division, we have two roles and both are on communications and economic development. When we were adding the second position, I was pushing for having one role focused on one, and the second focused on the other. Unfortunately I didn’t get the support of my colleagues so they are focused on both. I think we need to make sure that we have the statistics and data for new businesses coming to Yellowknife so that they can see the business opportunities we have.”
When asked the question on retaining workers for businesses, Jerald Sibbeston talked about affordability hurting employees staying creating a lack of experienced workers for higher roles.
“I remember a business, the dairy queen that was opened here year ago and the reason it wasn’t able to stay open wasn’t because of a lack of lower level employees, it was because of a lack of managers. At the end of the day they weren’t able to staff that position and they did have to close their business.”
Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce will also be hosting a councillor forum on Thursday, October 4th at Northern United Place. The forum will start at 6:30 and questions will once again be about business. Yellowknife’s municipal election is on October 15th.