‘Voices growing louder’

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In a rare appearance to city council, representatives from the NWT & NU Chamber of Mines will be attending Monday’s Governance and Priorities Meeting to bring awareness about the state of the mining industry.

Tom Hoefer, executive director of the chamber said he hasn’t addressed council since 2013 but feels there are “worrisome” and growing economic indicators that the city must address. Much of it is tied to the mineral industry.

file photo Tom Hoefer, executive director of the NWT & NU Chamber of Mines will be addressing City of Yellowknife council in a Monday government and priorities committee meeting. Hoefer says the economic forecast of the city does not look healthy, particularly due to a maturing mining industry and that it needs to be addressed by all levels of government.

“One of big reasons for (Monday’s presentation) is the state of our mineral industry not being healthy,” Hoefer said. “Yellowknife is not just the administrative capital, but also the mineral industry capital where all of our exploration jumps off. The majority of diamond mine jobs are here in Yellowknife and the majority of businesses are out of Yellowknife.

“Yk has a vested interest in the health of the mineral industry and that is what we really want to flag with them.”

The new city council was elected in October and passed its first budget on Dec. 10 with a $75.5 million budget 1.44 per cent property tax increase. Council is now in the process of planning its priorities for the coming four-year term, which will stretch into 2022.

Hoefer remains concerned that with economic indicators within the last year, including the Conference Board of Canada report predicting a “grim” economic future in the NWT, the city has a role to play to cut costs.

“The voices are growing louder and it is really based around our minerals industry and the fact that it is maturing, that we don’t have replacements in the wings and that there are expected future losses,” Hoefer said.

“There are a couple of areas where industry can be helped. One is relieving cost pressures. You have a lot of people living in Yellowknife that work in the industry. Living in a high cost city, if costs were reduced, then it would help those workers and would help those companies that have to pay those workers and offset their higher costs.”

Hoefer said the city should get behind a GNWT proposal to join the Taltson hydroelectricity power system to the Snare River system to cut costs for the city and by extension, mining companies.

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