Small business in Yellowknife is getting a boost after council voted in a business incubation and incentive program last night. The plan has six parts:
- Establishing an entrepreneurship mentorship program to connect business owners in Yellowknife with local and national mentors in the same industries.
- Increasing networking opportunities by partnering with the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce to host or promote networking events.
- Offering subsidized office space for start-ups by pairing new businesses with landlords offering discounted rent or subsidized space in City-owned buildings.
- Helping businesses access grants and loans by publicizing grant opportunities and asking mentors to help people with the application process.
- With the Chamber of Commerce, negotiating discounted rates for legal, accounting and communications services for chamber members.
- Expanding the business visitation program so City administration can keep track of business needs.
“The recommendations formalize action items that we’ve been working on over the last several years,” said Nalini Naidoo, the City’s Director of Communications and Economic Development, adding administration won’t be seeking extra money to run the program.
The City isn’t trying to compete with other organizations like the Business Development and Investment Corporation, or the chamber, in offering services like loans and mentorship, she said. Its role will be putting business owners in contact with available services. “As the front line workers, we hear very quickly where services are needed,” she said.
There was some debate about whether the City should offer its own space at subsidized rates. Several councillors expressed concern this will undermine private business. The issue was resolved, however, when council agreed all applications to rent City property would be approved by council.
Doggie Daycare in Kam Lake?
Whether to allow more furry friends in Kam Lake caused a hairy debate between those for and against re-zoning the neighbourhood to permit animal services.
The City is re-zoning several neighbourhoods, including Downtown and Old Airport Road, to allow for small dog daycares and pet grooming salons, though no overnight kennels. The Kam Lake residents who spoke to council, however, did not want to be included in the scheme.
“Re-zoning KL to allow for animal services less than three years after uses like this were initially excluded from the zoning, quite honestly boggles my mind,” said Peter Curran, who spoke at length about the noise and odour associated with animal services.
“It’s time for an animal use zone away from the built up areas, this should supply long-term and long-sought sustainability of those uses without creating the perpetual conflict and needs for public hearings,” he said.
Not everyone was amenable to the idea of shuffling animal businesses into a single area like the Engle Business District.
“I can’t afford to move out there and I don’t want to move my children and my family out there,” said Carla Kierns, who wants to open a small doggie daycare.
Jo-ann Cooper, who runs Borealis Kennels in Kam Lake, said it isn’t difficult to mitigate the effects of animal services.
“Indoor daycare where you have control of your pets, you have a building with soundproof walls, it is not going to disturb anyone around you,” she said.
Council sent the bylaw back to administration to see if stricter rules about animal numbers and hours of operation could be put in place.
It’s unclear how the debate will turn out, but several councillors seemed averse to the Kam Lake nimbyism.
“It’s a huge industry, it’s business and I strongly believe we need to promote business,” said councillor Niels Konge.