Dane Mason: IserveU’s Third Council Candidate

As an expert on risk-benefit analysis, Dane Mason is baffled by the protests that have greeted IserveU’s proposal for increased public involvement in governing Yellowknife.

“The potential is so great,” said Mason in an interview with EDGE Online. A manager of policy and strategic planning for Industry Tourism and Investment, he was IserveU’s communications director until he stepped down to run as a candidate.

“The worst-case scenario is that the system defaults to what we have now. There is no risk,” he asserts.

In essence, Mason said, the IserveU model for public consultation is a faster, cheaper alternative to the 2011 referendum that allowed Yellowknifers to decide the fate of the plan to draw heat from Con Mine for downtown buildings.

Mason moved to Yellowknife nine years ago, fell in love with the city, and has decided to make it his home. If elected, he would serve a single term and donate his council salary to charity.


Electronic voting and crowd-sourcing public policy are not new to the democratic process, said Mason.

A third of the ballots in a recent election in Tsiigehtchic were cast online, which makes it ideal for Yellowknife where many people work in mining camps and might be left out of the democratic process, according to Mason.

Alberta effectively crowd-sourced policy and program alternatives for homeless people, and the city could do the same on any issue, he said.

An alternative to administration

The move would give councilors an alternative to city administrators who now provide both research and policy alternatives.

“If city council’s main research vessel is administration which is also the source of recommendations, then there is a bias,” he said.

Mason cited the impasse on the 50/50 property the city purchased last year for $1.4 million. Administration ignored public recommendations for a library or arts space in favour of a $6.5 million park.

“Then administration said that if council ignored their recommendation, 10 years of planning effort would be wasted,” Mason said.

“My point is, if you’re asking the public you should be listening to the public,” said Mason, who would like to see a library on the site. “But the public should make the decision.”

The new council will decide whether the city will bid for the Canada Winter Games, and Mason noted that Toronto has decided against bidding on the Olympics because of the cost.

“The price tag for the Winter Games is just over $36 million, which is a hefty sum. If I’m going to make a decision, I want to know the costs and benefits and social return,” Mason said.

“If there was a chance to develop infrastructure downtown, with federal support for 50 or 75 percent and then have a legacy project for youth and downtown redevelopment. I would be in favour.”

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