Mark Rendell
Mark Rendell

City Briefs, Feb. 4: No Business Improvement Traction, Some Winter Games Action

The latest municipal news sees the city's Business Improvement District idea fumble, while the Canada Winter Games committee takes shape

BID bid gains little support in the biz community

Revitalizing the downtown via a Business Improvement District (BID) has been a hot topic at city hall ever since two councillors returned from a BID conference last spring. But the idea, which would see local businesses pay into a fund for collective projects, doesn’t seem to have any traction with the business community.

Last week, the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce sent out a survey to its members asking if they supported a BID in their neighbourhood. The answer was largely negative: roughly 50 percent said they didn’t support the idea, and 23 percent were unsure. (To be fair, the survey results hardly represent a comprehensive response: it was sent to 550 people; 80 responded.)

“Frankly, people don’t want another tax,” Deneen Everett, director of the Yellowknife chamber, told EDGEYK.com. “Some of the benefits a BID can supply are luxury items, and in a time of fiscal restraint, a lot of businesses want to focus on the basics.”

The chamber itself isn’t against the idea, said Everett; they just can’t throw their weight behind it without the support of their members.

The councillors most interested in the BID, Adrian Bell and Linda Bussey, were disappointed with the survey’s results and are concerned it was conducted before the public could be properly educated on the benefits of the districts.

“I would question what degree of effort has been put into this,” said Bell.

The City did include an information package with the survey, outlining some of the benefits and drawbacks of a BID, and they’re still planning on running education sessions for the business community once they receive CanNor funding tied to downtown revitalization. But Bell says the City should be doing more to lead the BID charge, not “trying to pass it off to a conflicted group like the chamber.”

Bell and Bussey remain confident that downtown business owners will rally behind the idea once they learn more about the benefits. Bell said he was “quite prepared to go door-to-door” to educate people about BIDs and their benefits.

Canada Winter Games committee shapes up

The group tasked with deciding the fate of Yellowknife’s Canada Winter Games bid is finally coming together.

At Monday’s MSC meeting, councillors settled on the make-up of the committee that will investigate whether Yellowknife has the money, manpower and infrastructure to host the national sporting event.

The group will meet once a month and includes 23 politicians, bureaucrats and business people, including, among others:

  • Mayor Mark Heyck
  • Councilors Bob Brooks and Rebecca Alty
  • Robert C. McLeod, Minister of MACA
  • The president of the NWT Housing Corporation, David Stewart
  • An as-yet undetermined Yellowknife MLA

Initially there were only three Yellowknife business people slated for the board. But after coun. Niels Konge argued the business community was “grossly underrepresented,” council voted to bring that number up to six. They also voted to make the meetings open to the public.

The group is set to be voted into existence at next Monday’s council meeting and will start work in the coming weeks and months.