This is page numbers 2637 - 2658 of the Hansard for the 19th Assembly, 2nd 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 community.

Topics

Question 700-19(2): Fire Services for Ingraham Trail
Oral Questions

Page 2642

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs.

Question 700-19(2): Fire Services for Ingraham Trail
Oral Questions

Page 2642

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the Member for his question and his constant advocating for the Ingraham Trail. I want to make it very clear to the territory, as well, that Ingraham Trail is located outside of a municipality. It's a cabin built-up area designated now as a recreational area. It is not designated as a hamlet, charter community, municipality, so extending our services outside of the boundary, I'm not familiar with the agreement that they may have had with the city for the years to come. Now, the city has decided to discontinue that agreement for Ingraham Trail.

I want to also just comment and say that, throughout the territory, we do have built-up areas such as these throughout the territory and are looking at providing services to Ingraham Trail. I am very mindful of the time that it would take from Yellowknife into Ingraham Trail to fight a fire. I take all of that into consideration, as well, but just to get back to the Member's question about the funding that he had requested, the $1.7 million, that was a number that was provided by the City of Yellowknife in, exactly, looking for staff and supports and training and equipment, as well. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 700-19(2): Fire Services for Ingraham Trail
Oral Questions

Page 2642

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

I think the unfortunate reality here is that the residents who built their houses and have lived out there for decades with fire services kind of expected them to continue. Now, the city and the GNWT are in some sort of fight over jurisdiction, and it seems the city wants $1.7 million to accommodate. The loss is really to the people, to my constituents, while this kind of fight between governments occurs. However, I never viewed this as a $1.2-million-annual problem. I thought the city was more in the hundred-thousand-dollar range, that we were going to get this to continue. It is one fire a year. Has the GNWT gone back to the city and made a lower offer? Perhaps we could start this engagement and this conversation at a much more reasonable figure.

Question 700-19(2): Fire Services for Ingraham Trail
Oral Questions

Page 2643

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Yes, the department did go back to the City of Yellowknife to look at the reduced number and what it would cost for fire services. I also want to elaborate, as well, that we did speak to the community of Dettah as they were interested in providing fire services, as well. However, I just really want to emphasize the distance. The distance, this is a cabin built-up area. I know there are residents at Ingraham Trail, but this is not a community. It is not a disagreement between a municipality and the GNWT. It's finding a solution, an adequate solution, and looking at who are we going to train, who is going to actually offer the services. If we do come to an agreement and if the government had said, "Okay. Here we are. We have money to fund the fire services," there is nobody who wants to provide that service right now. Looking at the City of Yellowknife, it's almost putting them under an obligation, saying this service is required. We are continuing those conversations with the City of Yellowknife, but we are in a really different scenario right now. MACA provides funding to the municipalities. We do not provide funding to cabin built-up areas.

Question 700-19(2): Fire Services for Ingraham Trail
Oral Questions

Page 2643

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

This is stemming from the larger long-standing issues where the GNWT and federal government gave a bunch of people fee simple, they started allowing more and more leases, and they created a cabin built-up area, as the Minister refers to it. However, it is not designated as anything, and people on the trail pay taxes every year and receive no services. They live off grid. They do not receive power, water, or sewer, so it has fallen into this area where, the Minister is completely right, it's confusing who exactly is responsible for what.

However, one of the concerns I have is that the department is going out, and they are consulting that this $1.2 million annually would have to be paid completely by the residents of the trail at a rate of $4,000 a year, which would be higher than the average property taxes in Yellowknife. It will be higher than any other community pays in property taxes. It's a figure that has no basis in how any of our built-up areas work, designated or not. Is the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs willing to pay for any part of an agreement that could be reached going forward?

Question 700-19(2): Fire Services for Ingraham Trail
Oral Questions

Page 2643

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Short answer: no. We are looking at a possibility and an agreement with Ingraham Trail and continue talks with the City of Yellowknife. We are going out there. We are talking to residents. We are making an effort. However, it is a built-up area; this is a cabin area. We have areas throughout the territory that -- what are we going to start doing? Are we going to be going out to each cabin lease, and are we going to be starting to fight those fires? Looking at this, Ingraham Trail, it's very unique. We are conducting conversations with the residents at Ingraham Trail, and we continue speaking with the City of Yellowknife. I appreciate the Member bringing this up, and I hope that we are able to come to a solution.

Question 700-19(2): Fire Services for Ingraham Trail
Oral Questions

Page 2643

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary. Member for Yellowknife North.

Question 700-19(2): Fire Services for Ingraham Trail
Oral Questions

Page 2643

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If it was the department's position that at no point was the GNWT going to pay for any of this service, it would have been very helpful to know that in October because it completely changes the whole conversation if they had to approach the city and completely fund this with their own taxes. Currently, residents on the Ingraham Trail, they pay taxes every year. They receive zero services for those taxes. Is the Minister willing to take some of the taxes that residents pay and use that, those taxes that already exist, as a portion of any agreement that could be reached going forward? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 700-19(2): Fire Services for Ingraham Trail
Oral Questions

Page 2643

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs is responsible for the assessment. We are not responsible for collecting the taxes. However, I just note: I want to let the Member know that the conversation that would have happened in October, November, December, this is the result of the conversation and looking at the $1.7 million. That was not identified before Christmas, and now we have numbers. We are trying to work with the residents. We are getting out there. We are doing the assessments and trying to come together to find a solution. This is going to continue, conversation that is happening between my department and the residents of Ingraham Trail and also continuous conversation with the community of Dettah and with the City of Yellowknife, so there is a lot of effort that is being made to come up with a solution for Ingraham Trail. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 700-19(2): Fire Services for Ingraham Trail
Oral Questions

Page 2643

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Kam Lake.

Question 701-19(2): Housing Community Residency Policy
Oral Questions

March 31st, 2021

Page 2643

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. My questions today are for the Minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation. I have spoken numerous times in the House before about the community residency policy. That is a policy that demands that NWT residents live in an NWT community for varying times up to one year before they can add their names to the public housing wait list. Can the Minister of housing speak to the goal of this policy? Thank you.

Question 701-19(2): Housing Community Residency Policy
Oral Questions

Page 2643

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.

Question 701-19(2): Housing Community Residency Policy
Oral Questions

Page 2643

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Through this policy, we have to display fairness and consistency throughout the territory. If we do not have this residency policy, we could have people throughout Canada coming into our territory and sitting on our wait list and having us not being able to properly and structurally, I want to say, allocate these units. We do have a strong and a long wait list, but the one-year policy that has been created for residency for the Northwest Territories is for the people of the Northwest Territories and newcomers coming into the territory, as well. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 701-19(2): Housing Community Residency Policy
Oral Questions

Page 2643

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

I appreciate the Minister's reference to fairness. I think that that is a fair comment, and I think that fairness is important. I think that fairness needs to be extended to the residents of the Northwest Territories, where we really do struggle with housing and people want fair access to safe and secure housing. This policy does not only prevent people from the rest of Canada putting their names on housing wait lists. It prevents Northwest Territories residents from putting their names on wait lists, from other communities. I think that that's why I keep asking these questions, is because I think this policy really needs to be revamped.

I think of different people across even Canada. When we look to our history, there are people from the Sixties Scoop who were adopted out to other families and might be living in other regions of Canada and might want to return home. There are people living in Yellowknife who might want the opportunity to return to their birth community, as well, and people living in communities who might want to be able to move to Yellowknife. I think that we need to look at this. However, I am wondering if the Minister can speak to what issue the community residency policy was originally trying to address and what was the original purpose of it.

Question 701-19(2): Housing Community Residency Policy
Oral Questions

Page 2643

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

The policy is to address the housing needs in that specific community. Since being Minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation, I have had several enquiries coming forward. We had families fleeing domestic abuse who we have had to relocate, and with that, we were able to work with those communities and the local LHOs that had created bylaws to address those unique situations. Also, we have students who are returning back from school, back to their home communities, where we are able to hold their unit for them, being able to house them upon their return.

However, then, I also really want to stress that we need a residency policy throughout the Northwest Territories. We need to show fairness and consistency. If we did not have this policy, we would have people and the waiting list exaggerated to a point where we were not able to work with that strongly. I want to be able to just really display that or really acknowledge that I do see that, where people are moving around throughout the territory, they have very unique, different situation, but we also have a wait list of people who are local, who are from the community, who have been on the wait list five, three, six months, it doesn't matter. We need to address the home community first.