Politics
Mark Rendell
Mark Rendell

Bike Lanes, 50/50, Parking Meters, etc. How They Voted

A look at where the municipal incumbents stood on the major issues of last council.

This coming Monday, a third of the names on the municipal ballot will be familiar from the last council: Rebecca Alty, Adrian Bell, Linda Bussey, Niels Konge and Phil Moon Son. Unlike the newcomers, who are running on campaign promises alone, council incumbents have a record. During their three years in office, they’ve voted on dozens, if not hundreds, of issues, but EDGE has focused in on the five votes below either because of their high profile or because they tell us something about the incumbent’s priorities. It should be noted that many votes were cast with qualifications, and in several cases the councillors later recanted on their votes and opposed the projects.

Bike Lanes – Passed Feb 24, 2014

For: Rebecca Alty, Linda Bussey, Niels Konge, (Bob Brooks, Dan Wong)

Against: Adrian Bell, Phil Moon Son, (Cory Vanthuyne*)

With the bike lanes along 52 Ave. seeing relatively little use, it’s easy to count the project as something of a failure. It was a tortuous path to get to the vote in the first place, with early plans for city-wide bike lanes being dropped due to the width of roads. Ultimately the project was wrapped into the $500,000 52nd Ave. streetscaping budget and didn’t end up costing a huge amount because asphalt is cheaper than sidewalk concrete. But it still stands as an example of City Hall moving ahead on a theoretically popular bit of infrastructure without sufficient data to show if it will be well used in reality.

Parking meter expansion – Passed April 28, 2014

For: Niels Konge, Rebecca Alty, Adrian Bell, Linda Bussey, (Cory Vanthuyne, Dan Wong)

Against: Phil Moon Son, (Bob Brooks)

The choice to install roughly 325 parking meters across downtown came in response to a report from administration highlighting the potential revenues the City could be taking in with paid-parking, as well as other benefits: encouraging people to bike and take public transit, keeping traffic flowing in front of businesses, and so on. Those who voted for it agreed with administration’s assessment, though with qualifications. Those against it argued that it wasn’t something business owners were asking for and there was already a policy to put two-hour meters in front of businesses. For opponents, it was mostly a money grab by the City.

Purchasing the 50/50 Lot  – Passed Sept 22, 2014

For: Adrian Bell, (Bob Brooks, Cory Vanthuyne, Dan Wong – Mark Heyck split the vote in favour)       

Against: Rebecca Alty, Niels Konge, Phil Moon Son, Linda Bussey

The $1.4 million decision to purchase the long-disused lot on the corner of 50th Street and 50th Ave. is perhaps the most controversial choice made by this past council. This election season, newcomers have, by and large, decried the decision and the incumbents who voted against it have made much ado about that fact. At the time, however, council was split down the middle. Those for the purchase argued that the lot was key to downtown revitalization but would remain empty unless the City stepped in and cleaned it up for resale or partnered with private organizations, like the REITs that own the mall, to do something with it. Those opposed argued the City was throwing good money after a bad piece of real estate with no solid plan in place. A plan has since been developed, though it gained little support from council and the future of the lot remains up in the air.

Developing Bartesko Court – Failed Sept 22, 2014

For: Rebecca Alty, Niels Konge, (Bob Brooks)

Against: Adrian Bell, Linda Bussey, Phil Moon Son, (Dan Wong, Cory Vanthuyne*)

Whether or not to rezone a parking lot and rocky area in Range Lake to allow for a new apartment complex turned out to be an intriguing debate pitting developer’s rights and smart-growth principles against the rights of a neighbourhood’s inhabitants. The developer, who owned the lot and had built one apartment building on it, had sought to have the property rezoned a number of times before. Each time, the idea was met with outrage from neighbours worried about shadows, increased traffic and loss of privacy. Those for the rezoning argued that it was an example of high-density infilling in an area identified by the Smart Growth Plan and would signal that Yellowknife was open to development. Those against said the will of the neighbourhood should be the deciding factor, especially when the developer knew what the zoning was when he purchased the property.

Old Airport Road Rezoning – Passed Feb 23, 2015

For: Niels Konge, Rebecca Alty, Phil Moon Son, Linda Bussey, (Mark Heyck split the vote in favour)

Against: Adrian Bell, (Bob Brooks, Cory Vanthuyne, Dan Wong)

The vote to open Old Airport Road up to multi-family residential development between Byrne Road and Borden Drive might seem like a routine bit of city planning, but it sparked a heated debate and split council down the middle, forcing Heyck to cast the tie-breaking vote in favour of the motion. Those favouring the plan argued that it would provide Yellowknifers with more living options and instill confidence in the business community; and who is the City to tell people where they can or cannot live? Those against argued that it would focus development away from the downtown core, effectively undermining the City’s other efforts to revitalize downtown through increased residential density.

For those interested in the councillors attendance records, this table was provided to EDGE by a trustworthy source wishing to remain anonymous. Moose FM has also done a great job graphing the attendance records of both city councillors and MLAs.

Total Councillor Absences

Council meetingsMSC meetingsCall-ins**Total Absences Plus Call-Ins
Alty5101025
Bell47314
Brooks916126
Bussey1314532
Konge311014
Son923234
Vanthuyne79117
Wong8251043

 

* Correction: We initially printed that Cory Vanthuyne voted for the bike lanes and was away for the Bartesko Court debate. In fact he voted against bike lanes and was present for the Bartesko Court debate.

**Call-ins are meetings attended by phone