A file photo of Yellowknife in May 2018. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
What’s going to happen in the Northwest Territories in 2019? Never fear – the Cabin Radio Almanac is here.
In the tradition of all good almanacs, we have printed below as absolute fact things which we haven’t the slightest guarantee will actually come to pass.
However, most of them are at least somewhat predictable and a few are… educated guesses.
We accept no responsibility for the eventual accuracy, or otherwise, of anything contained within this page, though we have made a genuine attempt to summarize the key events of 2019 that we already know at least a little about.
Air North’s scheduled flights from Yellowknife to Ottawa will disappear, following the airline’s decision to drop them for significant portions of the year as they are no longer viable outside peak travel season.
In further devastating news for Yellowknifers, the Noodo Monster food truck is also expected to shut up shop this month for family reasons. The owners have offered to sell the business as a going concern to anyone interested, but there is no news on a noodle saviour.
World Snow Day on January 20 should see a variety of special events out in the open across the NWT. Inuvik’s Sunrise Festival occupies the opening weekend of the year.
More mediation is expected between the Union of Northern Workers and territorial government. This will be the second round of mediation, with negotiations over a new collective agreement now into an unprecedented fourth year. (The last collective agreement, from 2012 to 2016, only lasted four years in total.)
The Canada Winter Games take place in Red Deer, Alberta. Cabin Radio will have reporters on the ground with Team NT throughout the two-week event, bringing you video, radio, and written coverage of our athletes’ progress.
The NWT Power Corporation is set to come under the leadership of a new president – outgoing leader Jay Grewal is expected to join Manitoba Hydro this month.
February is also the deadline for Parks Canada to produce a plan to rescue Wood Buffalo National Park’s World Heritage Site status, which is under threat over climate change, governance deficiencies, and “longstanding and unresolved conflicts and tensions” between Indigenous peoples and the government, according to a recent UNESCO report.
The Dead North film festival, a showcase of northern amateur horror, is usually held in Yellowknife toward the end of February. On the subject of northern horror, February is also budget season for the territorial government.
In other news – someone, somewhere in the NWT, wins a large sum with a lottery ticket.
Theoretically a high point in the Yellowknife winter season with the Snowking Winter Festival and Long John Jamboree back-to-back on the Yellowknife Bay ice.
However, while the Snowking and his castle appear to be in robust health heading into the season, the Jamboree – which lost almost a full day to extreme winds in 2018 – is in financial difficulty. Organizers have warned they will only make a final decision about going ahead with a 2019 Long John Jamboree at the end of January this year.
Hay River will host Polar Pond Hockey.
Following mediation in February, there is a possibility of strike action against the territorial government in March if those talks do not end well.
Cabin Radio’s second season of weekly Pet Project videos from the NWT SPCA ends, plunging the Fridays of thousands of residents into puppy-free darkness.
Spring break is March 18-29 for everyone in Yellowknife, but April 15-26 for many South Slave schools and dates vary elsewhere.
In other news – a plague of locusts infests City Hall, forcing half of the City of Yellowknife’s staff to once again work from temporary offices. Some of the locusts are clearly observed reviewing security camera footage without permission.
It’s the Muskrat Jamboree in Inuvik, from April 5-8.
Stand by your phones and laptops – the NWT’s campground booking system will open up for the summer, with the first parks opening in May.
In other news – a junior mining company makes an announcement that sounds highly promising but, afterwards, it is unclear what if anything has changed.
Everyone starts to worry that we haven’t had enough snow to temper the forthcoming wildfire season.
And this is, in theory, the earliest point at which anyone could open a private cannabis store in the NWT.
Not that there are any good months to be ill or injured, but this might at least be mildly more interesting than most – it’s the first month in which the new Stanton Territorial Hospital is set to welcome patients.
The new complex cost the territory $350 million (at least, that was the budget) just to build, and is – according to the GNWT – the largest project it has ever taken on. The old Stanton building will become, among other things, a long-term care and extended care facility.
Food truck season begins, with the publication of Yellowknife’s map showing which area each truck will have for the summer of 2019.
Some time in the spring, Yellowknife will discover whether it has won the Smart Cities Challenge – worth $5 million to the winning community, which the City hopes to use to implement smart streetlights which auto-dim.
In other news – a dog lost for two weeks turns up looking just fine, ending a drama that gripped the territory.
Construction season starts. Cabin Radio concludes negotiations with local companies for the use of a traffic helicopter.
For no reason other than spite, Mother Nature throws in one day of snow at the end of the month.
The usual month in which Yellowknife’s Festival on Franklin is held, closing down the main street for an afternoon to allow a range of roadside stores and games. Cabin Radio hosted a dunk tank in 2018 and is set to return with more fun and games in 2019.
By this point, we’ll have a good idea of who is planning to stand in both the territorial and federal elections coming up later in the year. Speaking of hot burning messes, by the end of June we will also have a clearer idea of the scale of this season’s wildfires – after an exceptionally quiet 2018.
The last day of school for most NWT students is either June 26 or June 27.
In other news – a new restaurant, the city’s 71st, opens in Yellowknife. Everyone is forced to budget an extra $50 for eating out, monthly.
Someone in Yellowknife buys a Tesla. Residents make 237 separate snarky Facebook comments suggesting they’ll regret it come winter. That one person who once owned one in Hay River insists they’ve made an excellent purchase. There are 21 related news articles.
There is anger as the combined KFC, Taco Bell, and Starbucks in Yellowknife has still to open. An unfounded rumour of a new Dairy Queen leads to a weekend of rioting.
Folk on the Rocks returns on the weekend of July 12-14. No acts have yet been confirmed. For the second year, Cabin Radio will bring you full, live coverage of the festival throughout the weekend and our very own Cabin Stage. There’s also the Hay Days festival in Hay River.
Carbon tax in the NWT is set to begin full implementation in July. Many of the measures are designed to have a minimal impact on residents (for example, point-of-sale rebates on anything related to heating), which has led some to question the point of introducing the tax in the first place, though the territory says it is simply following orders from Ottawa while trying to shield residents from an even higher cost of living.
In other news – somebody launches a GoFundMe for something improbable.
The Western Canada Summer Games take place from August 9-18 in Swift Current, Saskatchewan – with NWT representation in a range of sports.
The Dark Sky Festival takes place in Wood Buffalo National Park from August 22-25, with the Slave River Paddlefest in Fort Smith from August 2-5.
If still in existence, Yellowknife’s pop-up park will celebrate its one-year anniversary.
And at the end of the month, school’s in!
In other news – the lottery win from February has still not been claimed.
People start to complain about how long it’ll take for the NWT to get 5G cell service.
Enthusiasm for the full remediation of the Giant Mine site outside Yellowknife, and the hundreds of jobs it will bring, begins to take hold in earnest – with operations expected to ramp up from 2020.
In other news – wildfire season dies down, to be replaced by somebody-or-something-fell-in-some-ice-in-dumb-circumstances season.
The weather will do something shady. We don’t know what, but look at it. It’s up to something.
In a remarkable stroke of luck, the Fat Fox Café chooses to reopen inside Cabin Radio’s Studio 1.
A territorial election is set to take place on October 1. Premier Bob McLeod is already the longest-serving premier of the territory in modern times, but has not explicitly ruled out attempting to at the very least serve as an MLA for one more term, and possibly even an attempt to remain as premier (which the electorate does not decide – MLAs choose from among their number once elected).
Glen Abernethy, who has already committed to running for re-election as MLA for Great Slave, may launch a second bid to become premier if re-elected in October (having lost out to McLeod for the job in 2015).
Kieron Testart, the MLA for Kam Lake, has announced he will form a political quasi-party for this election. The territory technically does not permit the existence of political parties in their usual form for its elections, so Testart is proposing a “shared platform” – with the essential components of a political party – which he hopes one candidate in every riding will adopt.
Meanwhile, the Canadian federal election is currently scheduled for October 21, meaning that you will, for a second successive fall, be forced to consume an ungodly amount of politics.
Michael McLeod is the incumbent as the Liberal MP for the Northwest Territories and is fully expected to stand again. The identity of his opposition is for the time being unclear.
And if all that wasn’t frightening enough, Cabin Radio will return with a video Halloween special – trick-or-treating across the streets of Yellowknife on October 31.
Expect a frantic month of political upheaval. It usually takes a few weeks after a territorial election for a premier to be named if there is more than one candidate, so we could be into November before the identity of the NWT’s new leader is known. The new government will also get on with drawing up its key plans for the four-year term – not to mention opening (or continuing) relations with whoever happens to now be in charge in Ottawa.
Santa Claus always likes to get the NWT out of the way early before the real cold sets in, so Cabin Radio expects to welcome the big guy to Yellowknife some time in the latter half of November for his annual parade.
2019 is forecast to be the peak year for global diamond production. Expect attention to continue turning throughout the year toward the future of the NWT’s mines, which are all due to wrap up production within a decade, and planning for life after diamonds when it comes to the territory’s economy.
In other news – the winning lottery ticket turns up. Somebody’s dog had it.
Finalization of the City of Yellowknife’s budget for the following year will confirm the fate of big-ticket projects like a new swimming pool, after councillors in 2018 opted to delay giving the pool a full green light and undertake a year of further research and planning.
In other news – Yellowknife experiences a shortage of something small but important in the run-up to Christmas. Wrapping paper? Done. Christmas trees? Done. Maybe this time it’ll be candles, or Christmas cards, or goodwill.
Everyone shares memes about how this is the last time in your lifetime the year will end in “teen.”
Correction: January 2, 2018 – 9:58 MT. This year’s Cabin Radio Almanac has been proved wrong in record time. Owing to a legislative change, this year’s territorial election is now set to take place on October 1, not October 7 as initially stated. The almanac has been updated accordingly.