Mark Rendell
Mark Rendell

Jan. 28: Crime declines, the real estate deal of the year, and a looming land disaster

City Briefs: Rounding up the latest municipal action

YK crooks took a breather in 2014

Despite a busy December for Yellowknife RCMP, a month that included a tense motel standoff and a dramatic death that’s still clouded in mystery, 2014 actually saw a significant drop in crime in the city. According to the RCMP’s first report to council this year, delivered by Corporal Donnie Duplissea, there were around 2000 fewer violations last year than in 2013.

Some of the main drops:

  • Assault – 814 (2014) compared to 1254 (2013)
  • Break and enters – 98 compared to 172
  • Theft under $5000 – 465 compared to 595
  • Other complaints – 3052 compared to 5175.

Not all the numbers were down, however. Mischief was up by nearly 1000. And impaired driving charges rose from 114 to 248.

One increase might possibly explain the other decreases: the number of people in placed in police cells* was also significantly higher, going from 5450 in 2013 to 6034 last year.

“Sometimes it’s just dumb luck,” said Duplissea about the numbers. Though, he added,  “if you arrest someone, they tend not to commit too many crimes beyond that point if they’re in cells. You get the odd assault in cells. But when they’re not out on the street they tend not to break into someone’s home.”

He also said the increased number of patrols was a likely part of the overall reduction in YK crime.

NACC funding still cut

Despite a plea from the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre’s executive director, the arts centre is getting $15,000 less from the City this year.

As part of the 2015 budget, councillors cut NACC’s core funding to make money available to other organizations in the form of special grants.

NACC’s Marie Coderre asked council two weeks ago to change their decision, citing the centre’s high operating costs. But at Monday’s Municipal Services Committee Meeting, council decided backpedaling on grant allocations would be both unfair and unfeasible at this point.

“I feel for NACC having a reduction. But they were by far, for numerous years, the highest valued recipient,” said coun. Cory Vanthuyne. “I know they have a lot of overhead and fixed costs they have to deal with annually, but so do these other groups that are growing.”

Coun. Bob Brooks said he’d be in touch with NACC to discuss the possibility of bidding on city contracts – for advertising or public outreach – as a way to make up for the funding drop.

Loonie for a nature preserve

In what may be the real estate deal of the year, council decided to buy a small triangular lot backing onto Niven Drive for a dollar. It will be rezoned as a nature preserve and added to an existing preserve backing on to the lot.

The deal was already on the cards when the city sold a large parcel of land to Redcliff Developments in 2012. The company agreed to subdivide the lot, build 16 townhomes, then sell the odd-shaped sliver at the end of the lot back to the City.

Although the city is only dropping a dollar on the purchase, they will no longer collect property tax on the lot, which netted $2,432 in 2014.

Overheard: impending land disaster

If the city doesn’t get moving on the acquisition of new land from the GNWT, we’re in for an “impending disaster,” according to coun. Adrian Bell.

His comment came during an otherwise sedate discussion about a request for land parcels made by city administration to the GNWT in 2013. The request was for parcels around Grace Lake, the Mcmeekan Causeway and near the dump, among others.

“We’re in a situation here where we don’t have raw land to put in the hopper and we don’t know what we’re going to be doing after Grace Lake is done,” said Bell.

Coun. Cory Vanthuyne suggested that this lack of developable land within Yellowknife is driving up land prices.

“If we could put more land out to the market for development, the value of land would come down, and that would be reflected in the general assessment,” Vanthuyne said.

According to Jeff Humble, the City’s director of planning and development, a major culprit in the slowdown on land acquisition from the GNWT is devolution and the subsequent shift in staff it has entailed. There’s been increased confusion over land management ever since that shift began, Humble said.

 

* Initially we printed that the number of people “in jail” rose from 5450 in 2013 to 6034 last year. We’ve been told by the Department of Justice that this number actually corresponds to people “placed in police cells.”