A petition to change the charter community of Tsiigehtchic to a hamlet is picking up steam.
On Oct. 29 a representative from the department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) presented an information session to explain the legal differences between the two designations and get feedback from residents.
Anyone who missed that meeting has until Nov. 15 to contact MACA. Afterwords, the file moves to the desk of the minister responsible for the department for approval.
“Once that happens, the deputy minister briefs the new minister of MACA, and the minister makes the decision to proceed or not,” said senior administrative officer Grant Scott. “Then the department puts together an implementation plan and gets the ball rolling.
“If there’s no opposition and the minister decides to proceed with it, it could happen as soon as April 1, 2020.”
Scott explained one of the main motivations for the petition in the first place was establishing a separate municipal council from the band council. Currently, the community leader is also the band chief.
Only band members are able to serve on the council, further limiting the inclusiveness of community leadership.
“Whenever you have a band election, whoever is elected as Chief is automatically Mayor of the charter and three members who are elected to band council are automatically appointed to charter council,” he said. “Then there’s a charter election where two additional councillors from the general public are elected. If we go to hamlet status, there would be two organizations, a hamlet council and a band council, not merged together in any way.”
As a hamlet, those problems would be eliminated. A municipal council seat would be open to any resident who is interested in running.
Scott noted most of the questions were just seeking clarification. One thing that came up was if operations and maintenance funding would change if the community became a hamlet, but the funding would remain the same.
“The ball is in Yellowknife’s court,” he added. “There was a handout given out by MACA and we have extra copies at the front desk for anyone in the community to look at. It describes the differences in structure, size of the council, that sort of thing.
“Anyone can come and have a look at it.”
This was the first step MACA was legally required to do to begin the process after a petition with 26 names was completed in the community — one more than the minimum requirement. The petition was sent to MACA on March 11.