Yellowknife

If you just won $55 million, here are 10 things you can do with it


A ticket bought in Yellowknife won somebody an astonishing $55 million in Friday night’s Lotto Max draw. We thought they might need some help spending it.

If it’s you, you’ve come to the right place. We know this is a crazy time for you. Ignore all those family members currently hugging your ankles – there’s a pandemic on, scram! Listen to our sage advice.

On this page, we have gathered 10 of the greatest ideas for your newfound wealth.

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We’ve even tailored it to life in the North. (We could use some economic help right now and you just won 1.2 percent of the NWT’s GDP.)

First, some important news: you must agree to have your name publicized in order to claim the prize. There can be no anonymity here.

The Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC), which runs the Lotto Max draw, states: “Under WCLC rules and regulations, the corporation has no obligation to pay a prize unless the winner gives WCLC the right to publish the winner’s name, city or town of residence, and recent photograph.”

The corporation adds: “Names and photographs of major lottery winners are publicized to protect the integrity of the games – it verifies that prizes are won and shows that winners come from every walk of life.”

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If you’re cool with that, welcome to the multi-millionaires’ club.

Get spending. Here are some hints.

1: Fix Yellowknife’s downtown

Imagine being the person that finally figured out Yellowknife’s downtown. That vacant 50-50 lot is going for less than $2 million – yours with a click of the fingers.

Throw some half-decent buildings on the lot, buy up the Bellanca building and a few others, repurpose them, maybe add a rollercoaster or a splash park or two… easy.

You’d have plenty left over to invest in supporting the suite of service providers who help Yellowknife’s vulnerable downtown population.

With one lottery ticket, you could solve your home city’s biggest problems. Very generous of you.

2: Build a swimming pool

Estimates for a new aquatic centre in Yellowknife are coming in at around $50 million.

What’s that, you say? You’ve got $50 million plus a bit?

Perfect. That’s going to get us a 50-metre pool that splits into two 25-metre pools, a hot tub and spa zone, a lazy river, and a really impressive water slide. Like, really impressive.

And now the City of Yellowknife can spend all that cash on other stuff, like fixing a pandemic.

3: Feed some people

OK we know, we know. You just won all this money and now we’re asking you to give it away again. Nobody is really expecting you to do that. Nobody is that nice, not even Canadians.

However, if you did decide that actually you’re doing OK for cash right now, you could buy the entire NWT’s food supply for the next four or five months.

A recent study produced for the City of Yellowknife declared that an estimated $147.7 million is spent annually on food in the NWT.

Even better, why not focus on paying for fresh produce to help a healthier lifestyle? In 2014, Ecology North estimated the NWT’s residents could spend $17 million a year on produce. You could pay for three years of fresh veggies.

4: Bail out Dominion Diamond Mines

Yes, your friends have suddenly remembered you and it’s amazing how they all seem to need just a few hundred thousand dollars here or there.

But meanwhile, there’s a diamond mining company that could really use a hand.

Dominion is in creditor protection after failing to pay another mining company $16 million last month. The company says it expects to lose $39 million between now and July.

What’s 16 plus 39? No kidding… that’s a $55-million hole we’re talking about. You’d help to safeguard more than a thousand jobs related to the industry. And they’d probably kick in a diamond or two in return.

5: Build a new fibre line or two

You want one thing you could do that would guarantee a lot of buildings named after you in this city? Fix the internet.

We need a second fibre line to the south to stop vandals smashing up the existing, lone cable and cutting us all off for hours or days at a time.

Northwestel thinks it’ll cost $25 million to put a new fibre line under Great Slave Lake. Just to be on the safe side, why not do two?

Then you can spend the remaining $5 million paying for a couple of months of overages.

6: Bring a pro sports team to Yellowknife

It’s been a while. In fact it’s been forever. Yellowknife has a lot of things for a relatively small city, but it doesn’t have a professional sports franchise.

Hockey may be a little out of your league. You’ll need the best part of $800 million to snag an NHL expansion team. Maybe you could get the Arizona Coyotes for cheap, who knows.

How about soccer? Sure, the entire Northwest Territories does not currently possess a single full-size outdoor soccer field, but this is your chance to change that.

The Canadian Premier League, only a year or two old, will welcome you with open arms for $55 million. You can probably run a team on $5 million a year. Breaking even may be a challenge unless every single human being in Yellowknife attends every home game.

7: Buy and run Yellowknife’s cinema

Everyone thinks they’re an expert at running a cinema. Let’s find out.

First, we’ll buy Yellowknife’s Precambrian Building from its southern owners. That’s the one with the cinema in it. We’ll offer them $12 million, that should be a decent start. Don’t tell them you’ve got $55 million – they’re in no hurry to sell so the less they know about that, the better.

Once you’ve bought the building, let’s set aside about $1 million for renovations because it’s been a while.

There. Wasn’t that cheap? Look at all the money you have left over. Not to worry, there are more than 30 communities that would also quite like a cinema (or some cash for their existing one) – it’s not all about Yellowknife. We’ll give the NWT’s communities $1 million each to help that along. Done, with money to spare.

8: Bring the Canada Winter Games to Yellowknife

Let’s say we decide a pro sports franchise isn’t sustainable in the long term, and you want to do something that has some kind of legacy element to it.

The Canada Winter Games is your ticket.

Rejected by Yellowknife last time out, the Games would be a whole lot more palatable if you’d just pay for them.

In 2016, the cost was estimated at a little over $50 million (conveniently), although that would exclude the City of Yellowknife building a pool and the NWT government paying for the athletes’ housing to be built. Still, we think they’ll go for it if you pay the lion’s share.

9: Fix the housing crisis

The NWT Housing Corporation spends just over $55 million a year on community housing services – basics like maintaining nearly 3,000 homes across the territory and helping tenants with a range of grants and programs.

You could take care of that for a whole year, letting the housing corporation get on with building newer, nicer homes.

That’s important: the NWT is in a housing crisis and more than 40 percent of our homes have at least one significant problem.

If you prefer to make more of a cultural impact, the NWT government currently spends almost $9 million per year on the territory’s nine official Indigenous languages. You could cover that off for more than half a decade.

10: Get us through the pandemic

If you divide $55 million by the population of the Northwest Territories, you would be able to give everyone a one-off payment of just over $1,200.

While it may not last forever with a northern cost of living to meet, in many homes a payment like that would take care of power and internet bills for a couple of months at least.

Or – here’s a thought – how about dividing your win and placing it into a separate trust for each of the NWT “coronials” born this year?

Around 600 babies are born in the territory each year. That would give them all a starting sum of $90,000. Twenty years later, if invested wisely, those funds could be worth almost $300,000 per child.

With that kind of generosity, you would be guaranteed a hug or two – when we’re allowed.

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