City Briefs: Fixing Bylaw, Refrigerating the Arena

This week: the City confirms a nearly-$2-million-dollar purchase and installation of a refrigeration system for the Community Arena, and City Council tells MED to polish its image:

Refrigeration unit heats up debate in council

MSC, with some reservation, approved the supply and installation of a Cimco refrigeration unit for the Community Arena on Monday. The $1.9 million price tag outstripped council’s original funding by just over $700,000, the remainder of which will be made up from a number of sources. These include overflow from last year’s budget, overflow from two other city projects, $50,000 in additional funding from the Community Energy Plan, and a sport and recreation grant.

The unit already housed in the Community Arena is an R-22 freon plant, which is being phased out due to its production of greenhouse gases. “The use of R-22 technology will be completely phased out and no longer available,” according to official administration communication with council.

Coun. Adrian Bell seized on this point to object to the project happening in 2015, pointing out that the technology wasn’t planned to be phased out until 2020, and adding that, “we’re doing this a couple of years too early. We don’t actually need this done until 2020.”

A suggestion to push the project back to 2016 was ultimately rejected, due to projections that the push-back would add almost $200,000 to the cost of the project, and release an additional 190,000 tonnes of CO2.

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Approval of the unit was deferred for two weeks by council.

MED charted to improve public image

By-law in Yellowknife has long had a public image problem, and council has created a priority list to improve the division’s customer-service culture and interactions with the public for 2015.

The list’s items:

  • Improve Customer Service Culture and Interactions with the Public;
  • Increase Foot and Bike Patrols along the McMahon Frame Lake Trail and in the Downtown; and
  • Increase Proactive Enforcement of Municipal By-laws.

“It’s been a long time coming, and it’s a good first step,” said coun. Niels Konge.

“It’s a good first step, but just a first step,” added coun. Dan Wong. He raised concerns that the stipulations in the priorities list may be “too ambiguous,” adding that, “I want to make sure these priorities can be translated by staff into actions.”

Priorities will include monthly reports to councillors on the list’s more measurable aspects, including adding additional foot and bicycle patrols along the McMahon Frame Lake Trail and the downtown area. Increasing “proactive enforcement of municipal by-laws” would involve a focus on “litter and dog by-laws,” and would involve “more proactive enforcement, rather than letting them be complaint-driven,” said Mayor Mark Heyck.

Complaints are something the MED is familiar with; in particular, complaints that they are “focused on revenue generation,” according to a report published last year by Perivale and Taylor, Vancouver-based consultants, on the MED.

Coun. Phil Moon Son brought this point up during the debate, pointing out that positions within the MED were projected in the budget discussion for 2015 to be revenue neutral, which generates an expectation for by-law officers to counterbalance their salaries with ticket revenue. “I consider that to be a quota that our staff is going towards,” said coun. Son. “If municipal enforcement is doing a great job, and being proactive and working with the community, then no infractions will be made, and unfortunately those projections will not be realized.”

Mayor Heyck responded by saying that “the exercise of budgeting is the exercise of projections,” adding that “the idea behind the proactive enforcement is that by-laws will continue to be enforced, it just may be a different mixture of infractions than what we’re typically used to seeing,” suggesting officers would not necessarily be encouraged to ticket enough to justify their paychecks, but to ticket more broadly and cover areas that may not yet be well enforced.

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