Civil servants in Yellowknife won’t get out of work early on the mid-July Friday of this year’s Folk on the Rocks.
Last month, members of the music festival’s board asked the city to make the Friday afternoon of Folk on the Rocks a civic holiday, arguing that would allow more locals to volunteer at the festival and let families enjoy free events at Somba K’e Civic Plaza.
On Monday night, councillors defeated a motion that would have seen city staff draft a bylaw to allow the half-day holiday.
Councillor Niels Konge didn’t support that plan as it would only allow those “fortunate enough to work for government” to have the afternoon off, while everyone else would have to work unless their employer independently granted the same holiday.
“I think it creates a division in the community,” Konge said.
Councillor Stacie Smith said she hadn’t heard a lot of support for the idea from residents. She said the pandemic had highlighted divisions as many government workers were able to work from home while small businesses struggled to adapt to restrictions.
Councillor Julian Morse said he was surprised by how few residents were supportive of the civic holiday, noting he had not heard from anyone “effusively” excited about it. However, he was tentatively supportive as he felt the holiday could benefit some families and there were “extenuating circumstances” due to the pandemic.
The territorial government has a policy of supporting one half-day civic holiday per community per year. In Yellowknife, that holiday has traditionally been granted to celebrate the Long John Jamboree – but the jamboree was cancelled this year due to Covid-19.
Ultimately, only councillors Morse and Shauna Morgan voted in favour of the motion.