A room of Yellowknife's Makerspace facility. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
As Yellowknife councillors look ahead to the upcoming city budget, three organizations are hoping to be considered for municipal funding.
Makerspace YK, the Yellowknife Women’s Society and Folk on the Rocks all made pitches to mayor and council at a meeting on Monday night.
The women’s society is hoping to upgrade its street outreach program from what it termed an entry-level to advanced care model, and is looking to the city for both funding and help to seek support from other funding partners.
The society said the expanded program would require $1.1 million per year in start-up costs as well as $350,000 for equipment and to cover retrofitting the program’s van.
At the moment, street outreach helps vulnerable people get from Yellowknife’s streets to somewhere safe. A van patrols the city offering safe rides and basics like food, water and first aid.
Executive director Renee Sanderson said a more advanced program would include emergency first aid, case management, harm reduction and some public health services in a mobile care unit, as well as foot patrols.
Board member Shauna Morgan, a former city councillor, said the aim of an improved program is to meet people where they are at, create relationships, reduce the burden on emergency services and improve public safety.
“We see the advanced care model as being able to better achieve these goals,” she said.
Morgan added an advanced program would support recommendations from both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The current street outreach program’s annual budget is $360,000, provided by the city, alongside $10,000 in donations.
City manager Sheila Bassi-Kellett said the city once had “strong allies” in the territorial government, which partnered with the federal government to contribute a collective $250,000 to that budget.
“That was one time. It was glorious. We’ve never seen it since,” she said.
Bassi-Kellett said the city has since lobbied the territorial government to support the program but has not received additional funding.
“There certainly is a responsibility and a benefit to other partner governments in being able to collaborate to support a model like this,” she said.
Several councillors said they were supportive of the proposal and hope to see newly elected MLAs push the territory to provide funding.
No formal vote was taken at Monday’s meeting. Presentations will instead be used to inform a budget finalization process that’s set to take months.
Makerspace seeks operational funding
Makerspace YK president Kristel Derkowski and executive director Aileen Ling asked the city for $40,000 to $50,000 in annual operational funding. They said the group’s operating and maintenance expenses are not eligible for grants.
Derkowski pointed out that the city’s arts and culture master plan and economic development strategy align with what Makerspace is doing.
“By getting more public funding, we’re able to reduce the barriers to entry for our programming, offer it at a lower cost and be more inclusive overall,” she said.
The non-profit has a wood shop, digital fabrication lab and multi-purpose creative space where it offers workshops, programming, opportunities for skill building and access to tools.
Ling said Makerspace YK gets some funding through partnerships and membership fees and is looking at other options.
Several councillors expressed support. Councillor Steve Payne and Mayor Rebecca Alty requested that Makerspace provide financial statements before councillors decide on the request.
Folk on the Rocks to repair stage
Folk on the Rocks is hoping the city will forgive $60,000 of a $100,000 loan related to renovation of the main stage at the festival site, or $20,000 every year over three years.
Mike Westwick, one of the festival’s directors, told councillors Folk on the Rocks intends to reinvest those funds in needed renovations to the beer garden stage to improve safety, accessibility and functionality. He said the festival will not be seeking additional funds from the city related to that project.
Yellowknife councillors usually deliberate and pass the annual budget each December.
This year, however, the City of Yellowknife has pushed back publication of a final budget to February because of the city-wide evacuation this summer.