Inuvik’s election: Housing and treatment centre in focus
Only Clarence Wood has so far declared an intention to become Inuvik’s next mayor in October. Incumbent Natasha Kulikowski won’t seek re-election.
Councillor Dez Loreen, who previously announced an intention to run for mayor, pulled out of the race earlier this month. Kulilkowski, mayor for the past three years, still plans to run for council but said she wanted a break “from the big chair” to pursue other interests.
“I feel like I had a really good three years here in the position,” Kulikowski said. “We’ve had some amazing work completed, not only by council but by our administration and the staff.
“Just driving around town and seeing the construction and things that are happening is a pretty good indication of the good decisions that council has made.”
A new special events pavilion officially opened in June. Construction of a new tourism office, Arctic Market building, soccer field, and ball diamond began this summer.
Wood, a town councillor, said he has been considering a run for mayor for the best part of a decade. “This time,” he said, “I thought, well, it’s now or never.”
Wood has served on town council for nine terms. He has served a term as president of the NWT Association of Communities and as chair of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ northern forum.
“Being mayor this time around for me was a natural fit,” he said.
Wood wants to lobby the territorial and federal governments for more affordable housing and oversee getting the pool up and running again.
“The other priority I have – this has been a priority for a number of years for me – is getting a treatment centr back in Inuvik for drugs and alcohol,” Wood continued.
“We had one back in the eighties that was actually quite successful. Unfortunately, the territorial government pulled the funding and it shut down. We haven’t had one since. There’s not one treatment facility in the territories.”
Wood compare that to the recent federal commitment of $47.5 million to Nunavut for the construction of an addictions treatment centre.
In February, Inuvik formally adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which enshrines Indigenous rights worldwide, and pledged to make the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action a priority.
Wood pledged to work collaboratively with local Indigenous organizations.
“Working together with both the Gwich’in Tribal Council and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation would go a long way toward advancing the rights of Indigenous people,” Wood said. “I am prepared to work hand-in-hand with them, and I think anybody who’s running for this office has to do that.”
‘It’s just not my time’
As for Loreen’s decision to withdraw, he told Cabin Radio: “It’s just not my time.”
Amid employment changes and work to grow his comedy and wrestling careers, Loreen said he hold off on running for mayor. He intends to run for council again.
“Being a full-time politician, being the mayor, does not gel with my goals right now,” he said.
“I’m 38 right now – I’m not even 40 yet. I’ve got time. I’m going to run for mayor one day, and I feel like when I’m ready, it’ll be so much better.”