Amphitheatre cover is lone victim on opening budget night
The opening night of 2023 Yellowknife budget deliberations resulted in minimal change for the year ahead, though several nights of discussion remain.
The newly elected city council spent three hours going through the budget page-by-page. Their decisions this week could reduce (or, if they choose, increase) what is currently set to be a 7.47-percent property tax hike.
What community services director Grant White described as a “half-shell cover” for the Somba K’e Park amphitheatre was axed, saving $75,000. The installation would have had a life of 12 to 15 years.
The city said user groups had liked the idea of extra shelter from the sun and inclement weather, but Councillor Steve Payne said he did not think the cover would increase use of the area.
Councillor Cat McGurk said a temporary cover would be a cheaper option if needed in future. Deputy mayor Stacie Arden Smith noted many stallholders and other park users bring their own tents or covers anyway.
A motion to delete the amphitheatre cover carried unanimously.
Otherwise, it was a quiet night for deletions. A motion to delay some paving work on Wiley Road and Franklin Avenue in Old Town by one year was defeated. Payne had argued spreading the work over time would provide consistent work for contractors, but only Mayor Rebecca Alty and Councillor Ben Hendriksen supported the motion and the majority voted no.
Just as the evening’s discussion closed, Councillor Tom McLennan raised the question of finding $20,000 to fund a series of shows at the city’s new visitor centre gallery space.
McLennan says he wants to cut the proposed arts coordinator position, to be discussed later this week, and use a fraction of that money to pay local groups to stage shows. He said he imagined funding four shows a year at $5,000 each.
Council ran out of time to discuss McLennan’s motion and will continue the debate on Tuesday. Deliberations are due to run until Thursday.