John Fredericks is running for Yellowknife city council in the fall 2022 municipal election. Here’s a full transcript of our interview.
We asked every candidate roughly the same questions, to allow residents the chance to compare and contrast answers before placing their votes in the city’s mail-in ballot.
Questions include a little candidate background information and their thoughts on municipal taxes, housing and homelessness, climate change, reconciliation and the city’s economy.
We also ask each candidate how they would have handled three big issues that faced councillors during the past four years: a new swimming pool for Yellowknife, a proposed university campus on Tin Can Hill, and the question of requiring proof of vaccination at city facilities during the pandemic.
This interview was recorded on September 23, 2022. The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Ollie Williams: What’s your Yellowknife background?
John Fredericks: I moved here in December of 2006 with my wife to work as the fire chief for the city. We’re planning on staying here at least for the next five years.
What sort of philosophy do you think would guide you as a city councillor?
I hope to be fair. I’m a strategic thinker. I hold people accountable, transparency is a big thing. Maybe council has been told the truth? I don’t know. I haven’t sat on council yet. So, integrity. You know, that’s mostly it.
Where do you think those things are lacking right now? When you say maybe council has been told the truth, what makes you think they haven’t been?
Well, that’s a trick question. I don’t know. I’ve gone to a few council meetings. I’ve been on both sides. I worked for the city and now I’m running for council. Hopefully I get elected and I’ll hold them accountable.
What do you think should be happening to municipal taxes next year?
It’s going to be a tough budget process. A lot of people haven’t gotten over last year’s tax increase, and inflation is going to play a big part for the city and for the residents. Hopefully, I’ll get to look at the budget and see where we can cut things and improve services and maybe cut down on services.
Where do you think the economic future of this city lies? And what do you think the city council should be doing to support that?
We should be looking at developing new mines. We get a lot of revenue from the mining industry. Tourism? I don’t know, how big of a part that plays in the future of the city. I know it’s important. I know there are a lot of new buildings going up so there’ll be revenue from the taxes that we collect off of those.
Is it your job as a Yellowknife city councillor to worry about climate change?
I think it’s everybody’s responsibility when it comes to climate change.
On housing and homelessness, where do you see the city’s role?
I think the city has to get more engaged, more involved in homelessness. I know they have a homelessness plan that was presented to council. Hopefully we can commit to everything that we have in that plan.
And what do you think the next steps should be in reconciliation for the City of Yellowknife?
It’s very important to me, personally. I’m French Acadian so, you know, the Indigenous population and our population go hand in hand. I think having open communications with the Indigenous governments is a big step.
Looking at decisions council made in the past four years: would you have voted for a new swimming pool?
No. I think for the size of the city, the swimming pool they approved should have been scaled back to something we could actually afford and live with.
Would you have supported a university campus on Tin Can Hill?
Yes. It’s bringing a lot of people to the community, growing our tax base.
This time last year, would you have voted to require proof of vaccination at city facilities?
Yes. It was a step to keep everybody safe. Masking and vaccinating is part of that.
Is there anything else we haven’t touched on?
Revitalization of the downtown, working with the Indigenous people. The budget is going to be the big thing, big deliberation.