This is page numbers 4577 - 4596 of the Hansard for the 16th Assembly, 5th Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was need.

Topics

Proposed Changes To Supplementary Health Benefits Program
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Proposed Changes To Supplementary Health Benefits Program
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Bromley. The honourable Member for Frame Lake, Ms. Bisaro.

Northland Trailer Park Water And Sewer Replacement Project
Members’ Statements

March 2nd, 2010

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have community residents in my riding who are in a dire situation and seriously in need of assistance. A group of about 258 families, 800-plus residents, a number higher than the total residents in many NWT communities, live in an area which is essentially an accident waiting to happen; a potentially unsafe, unhealthy environment. I speak of the property owned by the Yellowknife Condominium Corporation No. 8, better known as Northland Trailer Park.

The sewer infrastructure that supplies these 258 homes is 40 years old and, by Canadian standards, should have been replaced 15 years ago. The replacement of these pipes must happen this year. Pipe failures have been occurring on a regular basis for at least 10 years and are now occurring more and more frequently. Just two weeks ago a section of sewer line which supplies 16 homes failed. They are now getting by with a temporary line until the land thaws in a few months and repairs can be made.

In 1990, when the condo was formed, NWT condominium legislation was out of date, weak, and ineffectual. The act did not protect condo owners, did not require either the seller or the buyer to have a reserve fund for large infrastructure replacements, and so none was established. It led to the situation that Condo Corp No. 8 is now in.

Many will say that the City of Yellowknife should take on this financial responsibility, but these pipes are not owned by the city. They are privately owned by the condo corporation. Condo owners can accept some financial responsibility, but the total replacement cost -- $15 million to $18 million -- is too cost prohibitive and totally unmanageable for these 258 homeowners. Who among us could afford an extra $500 per month for 15 years to pay for sewer pipes? Not me, and I imagine not many of you either. That’s what is facing these particular residents.

This area of Yellowknife, which is about 2 percent of our NWT population, really does need help. This really is an emergency situation for which the GNWT so far refuses to accept any responsibility. If it were any other NWT community in such dire straits, would our government continue to ignore the need?

Recently, as we discussed the Municipal and Community Affairs department budget, I asked if all NWT communities received water and sewer services funding. I quote the answer from Minister Robert C. McLeod in Hansard of February 15: “All communities but Yellowknife.” I replied to him that it didn’t seem very fair.

I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted.

Northland Trailer Park Water And Sewer Replacement Project
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

The GNWT can correct this unfairness and assist Northland at the same time. We can redistribute the water and sewer funding to include the City of Yellowknife for the life of the replacement project, three to five years. That funding can be used to offset the $18 million project costs.

Northland owners are not looking for a free ride, just some funding help. Without that help these 258 families will in all likelihood walk away from their homes and at least half of them will leave the North because they have no place to live.

Low-cost housing is necessary in Yellowknife and is badly needed. I believe it’s incumbent on this government to provide the help necessary.

Northland Trailer Park Water And Sewer Replacement Project
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. The honourable Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Menicoche.

Affordable Power Rates For Nahendeh Residents
Members’ Statements

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have always advocated for affordable power rates for our residents and businesses because energy costs have such an impact on the standard of living of families and the success of businesses. I know that the rates of community residents of Nahanni

Butte, Jean Marie River and Wrigley are among the highest in the NWT. These rates hit hard.

This winter residents have told me about monthly rates as high as $600 for a family of four. That is a large part of a family’s disposable income and makes it hard for a family to make ends meet. Yesterday I spoke about a Fort Simpson business in operation for more than two decades that was forced to close down because the owners could not afford to pay the power bill.

Myself and my constituents have always advocated for a one-rate zone. Although this may not be possible at this time, it is still my vision for the future of the NWT.

The Legislative Assembly faces an important challenge as it deliberates over how to restructure our power rates fairly throughout the NWT. We have gathered information from community and stakeholder consultations and I look forward to working with all my colleagues to see how we can improve the situation throughout the North and in Nahendeh.

Affordable Power Rates For Nahendeh Residents
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. The honourable Member for Nunakput, Mr. Jacobson.

Elders Facility For Ulukhaktok
Members’ Statements

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In Nunakput our elders have worked hard, have lived all their lives, and they’ve been quick to adapt their preliminary lifestyles into modern lifestyles during their time. They had to take care and protect us. Our elders truly lived amazing lives.

In every community in the Northwest Territories our elders deserve a place where they can go for entertainment, visiting, or just for healthy services. My office has received correspondence from the Minister responsible for Seniors in responding to a funding request for the facility in Ulukhaktok and I’d like to thank the Minister for it. However, the rationale indicated says that the needs of the community of Ulukhaktok does justify the expenditure commitment.

During my travels across the Territory I see other communities that are smaller and not so isolated that have received funding for seniors facilities of some sort. I asked the Minister why the discrepancy. Several years ago the community of Ulukhaktok initiated a petition to get this government committed to building a badly needed seniors facility. Today, 2010, only a year left in this government and there’s still nothing. What happened to promises made to the communities during the early years of this government?

Caring for our elders’ health and well-being must be a pillar of this government. The community of Ulukhaktok elders deserve this. We really have to get this done for the hamlet so we can have our

elders taking care of them ourselves. I also expressed a growing concern with the trend of government with lack of services to communities and commitments in the future enhancement projects.

Mr. Speaker, even with this enormous difference, this government continues to use formulas such the per capita market conditions when evaluating the need. This is wrong. Ulukhaktok needs an elders facility just as much as Yellowknife, Inuvik and Hay River. As I mentioned in previous Member’s statements during my various leadership positions, I will continue to try to improve the life of my elders.

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted.

Elders Facility For Ulukhaktok
Members’ Statements

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

I will continue to try to improve the lives of my elders.

Once again, I challenge this government to seriously review the needs of our elders to place necessary resources and implement real plans for real changes for our real problems. I will have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Elders Facility For Ulukhaktok
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Jacobson. The honourable Member for Kam Lake, Mr. Ramsay.

Secondary Diamond Industry
Members’ Statements

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’m going to speak today about diamonds. Mr. Speaker, my involvement in this file dates back to the beginning of 1998 when, as a newly-elected city councillor, I was appointed to the task force on the development of a secondary diamond industry here in the city of Yellowknife. This task force, in conjunction with the territorial government, was successful at getting a secondary industry established here in Yellowknife.

Over the years, Mr. Speaker, I’ve watched this industry suffer. Mr. Speaker, factories are closing down, the government is losing millions of dollars, has lost millions of dollars, and this, to me, could have been avoided. I hold the Government of the Northwest Territories responsible for letting the industry regress. The last government seemed intent on letting it die, dismantling our diamond division, ignoring a possible sale of the Sirius plant costing us $10 million and, Mr. Speaker, this government, of which we have less than 18 months remaining, continues to neglect the secondary industry.

The policy surrounding the secondary industry has been in existence since 1999. Why is it taking so long to have this policy updated? What is our vision and our direction for our secondary industry? We have people still interested in cutting and polishing diamonds here in the Northwest Territories; they’ve

invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and are waiting and waiting some more to understand what the government’s policy is going to be and rules of engagement are going to be for the secondary industry here in the Northwest Territories. These investors can’t wait around forever, Mr. Speaker. Opportunities do exist in other jurisdictions. My fear is they will leave if we do not get our act together.

Mr. Speaker, I was reading an article recently about Botswana, the world’s largest producer of diamonds. Mr. Speaker, Botswana has mined diamonds for decades. They understand, as a government, that one day the mining will stop, that they must diversify their economy. Why is it that if Botswana can figure this out, why can’t our government understand this?

We need to grow our secondary industry. I still believe we should have a bourse here and not in Toronto. In Botswana they have established the Diamond Trading Company Botswana so that diamonds are sorted, mixed and traded in Botswana. Why doesn’t the Government of the Northwest Territories pursue this type of initiative?

Secondary Diamond Industry
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Mr. Ramsay, your time for your Member’s statement has expired.

Secondary Diamond Industry
Members’ Statements

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted.

Secondary Diamond Industry
Members’ Statements

David Ramsay Kam Lake

In my years of following this saga, one thing I’ve grown to understand fully is that if you have rough diamonds, you have a captive audience. Seeing as our producing mines have committed 10 percent of their production to local cut and polish production, why don’t we create a Diamond Trading Company Northwest Territories and take control once and for all of our own destiny when it comes to the diamond industry?

Mr. Speaker, we can do so much more. I struggle to understand why we remain, as a government, so complacent, unwilling to unleash the great potential that we have. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Secondary Diamond Industry
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. The honourable Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Hawkins.