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Yellowknife

City of Yellowknife wants accessibility legislation in the NWT


The City of Yellowknife may lobby the Northwest Territories government to pass legislation on accessible building standards.

During a meeting with councillors on Monday, city administration detailed resolutions it hopes to present to the NWT Association of Communities at its annual general meeting in February. These are issues or topics that communities feel require action by other levels of government. 

The NWT does not have its own building act nor other legislation that details accessibility standards for buildings.

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The territory currently relies on the national building code, but the NWT Human Rights Commission in November warned northern businesses that meeting the national code may not protect them from human rights complaints. 

“The Northwest Territories is the only jurisdiction without a building act,” Mayor Rebecca Alty told Cabin Radio.

“One more reason they should have it is so they can have some accessibility legislation, so it’s clear on when you’re building to what standard and how to make your building accessible.” 

The city’s proposed resolution states this legislation would allow “all persons to participate fully in society without barriers.” 

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Federally, the Accessible Canada Act came into force in July 2019. Provinces and territories have been encouraged to adopt similar legislation. Ontario, Nova Scotia and Manitoba all have provincial accessibility legislation while British Columbia has introduced it. 

The City of Yellowknife is also proposing changes to the territorial Property Assessment and Taxation Act to allow municipalities to reduce or rebate a portion of property taxes when a fire damages or destroys a resident’s property.

Alty explained that under the current legislation, council has to approve a bylaw to reduce property taxes in these cases. The amendment would instead allow city administration to make that rebate. 

“It’s also quite a personal thing to come forward to council and advertise your address again,” Alty said. “So just to remove that administrative process of coming to council.” 

The territorial government has already said that it plans to review the act. 

Mayor and council will vote on whether to bring the resolutions forward to the association of communities at their next regular meeting on January 25.

The association’s annual general meeting is set to take place at the end of February.

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