I really can't express how happy I am to see this kind of product coming out of Yellowknife City Hall. I could cry.
I really can't express how happy I am to see this kind of product coming out of Yellowknife City Hall. I could cry.
Loitering and public drunkenness in downtown Yellowknife are likely going to be hotly debated issues in the upcoming municipal election. This article (click on the link above) provides valuable insight into these complicated problems.
Don't miss this Wednesday's informational open house on the upcoming Eco-Housing project. The open house should be very interesting as there is quite a bit of confusion within the development community, and the city at large, about this project. I believe it was originally conceived of as a lower-cost housing option ("affordable home ownership" is the term used in the FSC Housing Affordability report) but that doesn't seem to be the focus of the following web release on www.yellowknife.ca:
The City of Yellowknife is proceeding with the Eco-Housing Project. Through an RFP process a Design Team, Guy Architects in association with Baird Sampson Neuert Architects, was awarded the Design, Modeling Construction and Marketing of a sustainable and eco-friendly 24-unit housing design in the Downtown area.
Interested members of the public are invited to attend an open house on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 in the Council Chamber, City Hall from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. The Design Team will give a brief PowerPoint presentation starting at 12:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on the Eco Housing Sustainability Framework and what the project means for the community followed by open discussion. Refreshments will be provided.
Please contact Guy Architects at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 873-3266 for further information.
It may be that they've had a hard time combining eco-friendly construction with a low price point - which would be entirely understandable. But whether the emphasis will be on affordability or environmentally-friendly building practices, this should be a fascinating project. The only way to find out what's going on here is to attend one of the open house sessions.
I'll see you there.
It's that time of year. The snow has melted, leaving behind an unwanted bounty of Bounty wrappers, among other things. As in years past, the Yellowknife Trash Pick-Up Artists will be getting together on Wednesdays at 5pm at Javaroma to take on this perennial pest. Today is our first session of 2012.
The Pick-Up Artists have been around since about 2008 and were originally formed to bridge the gap between the annual melt and the launch of the City of YK's litter cleanup season. The City tends to wait until every last drop of snow is gone before beginning their cleanup work and it was felt that this left our town in an unacceptable state for several weeks. Although the entire city is in need of cleanup, we chose to focus on the downtown core, because of its visibility and its importance to the overall image of the town. Several of the co-founders also happened to be downtown residents and business owners - cleaning up our own back yard, if you will.
There really isn't all that much to it. We meet at Javaroma between 5 and 5:30 (where all volunteers receive free coffee or tea), pick up garbage bags, latex gloves and reflective vests, and then we spread out and attack the trash. It can be cold and windy work, although today that doesn't appear to be likely. We ask volunteers to work for as long as they feel comfortable. You'd be amazed at what you can accomplish in a half hour.
The good news this year is that we likely won't have to do this more than once or twice. Unless I'm mistaken, our downtown core looks a lot cleaner than it has in years past. Furthermore, the snow melted rather quickly this year. We won't have to revisit the same old snow piles numerous times waiting for the sun to tease out our targets.
So at any rate, I hope you'll join me at 5 p.m. today at Javaroma to practice your pick-up skills. It is fulfilling work that truly does make a difference in our quality of life.
To keep an eye on upcoming events, join the facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ykpickupartists/.
A huge thanks to our 2012 sponsors:
- Camco Construction
- Bellanca Developments
- Wallbridge Law Office
- Capitol Theatre
I'm doing a radio panel this morning and I'm hoping to direct people here to see examples of mixed-use buildings. Let's see if I pull this off.
I will explain more after the radio panel session. It should begin in about five or ten minutes if you happen to be near a radio (the internet has that too, I'm told).
Update: I've just discovered the answers to many of my own questions (in this post) by reading last night's agenda more carefully. It appears that they have agreements in place to buy Instaloan, Cornermart and the parking lot. I'll write again in a couple of days to discuss the implications of this. Sorry for the sloppy/rushed research.
It appears that the newspaper may have jumped the gun a bit on this story. Or perhaps more accurately, I interpreted parts of their article to mean that a deal had been reached with the Gold Range and the Raven. I'm no longer certain that that is actually the case, but that didn't stop me from getting pretty carried away with this theme yesterday. I'm sure the paper will clarify the details in the Wednesday and Friday editions of the Yellowknifer. From what I've been told, and from what I can glean from last night's special council meeting agenda, the City has simply asked for permission to approach the 50th Street property owners directly (update: I was partly right and partly wrong about this, as I explained above). This implies that they were using a middleman of some kind to negotiate up until now. Based on what's out there in the media so far, it is impossible to tell if the middleman had any success in arranging the purchase of the two key properties, the Gold Range and the Raven Pub. According to last night's agenda, Council was debating whether or not to "make direct contact with the remaining land owners regarding the assembly of the lands." This suggests that they have succeeded in convincing at least some of the 50th Street owners to sign on the dotted line. The question is, which properties do they have agreements on?
If you head to NNSL's Yellowknifer portal you'll find the following headline: "City aims to buy Gold Range strip: Mayor says planned acquisition part of strategy to redevelop and revitalize city centre."
Ah, summer, when days are long, nights are hot and politicians turn their attention to... strip clubs.
link to article at: www.theglobeandmail.com
Check out this article. City council in Fredericton just bought and bulldozed a local strip club in order to revitalize a struggling part of town. Now that's taking the bull by the horns! This is the type of land assembly that could really make a difference in downtown Yellowknife. Mind you, I think it's more a matter of facilitating the relocation of certain establishments than shutting them down outright. If similar opportunities present themselves in YK, I would love to see City Council act on them.
I'm not advocating for the bulldozing of anything though, especially a certain important heritage building. But there's no reason why it couldn't be turned into a "food primary" establishment (a la Wildcat) rather than a saloon. My partner, Allison, suggested this in passing a few months ago. I think it's a brilliant idea.
Of course, land purchases like this only makes sense if you are actually interested in revitalizing the downtown. I would argue that no amount of streetscaping or public art will ever accomplish this goal.
It's interesting to note that they paid 40% more than the appraisal value. I think YK would be divided over such a move, but I know which side I'd be on. I think the property tax contribution of that area would skyrocket in a matter of a few years. It would more than justify the premium.
Warning: this post has all the entertainment value of paint drying - unless you've been following this downtown zoning issue and are genuinely interested in it; in which case, by all means, read on.
Yes, today is a two-post day. Why? Because it's Friday. And furthermore, you're not the boss of me.
I just wanted to comment quickly on the recent decision by City Council to delay making a decision on the proposed changes to our downtown zoning. If you're not familiar with the proposed changes, you can read this post for background.
This post is a bit late, given that the public presentations session of council took place last night, but better late than etc, etc. Last week I spoke with a real estate developer friend of mine who has developed numerous properties downtown over the last fifteen years. I called him because I realized I'd been claiming that developers wouldn't have any real objections to the new zoning without having confirmed this fact. Granted, one developer is a pretty small sample size, but it was a revealing conversation nonetheless.
I spoke with someone yesterday about the proposed amendments to Yellowknife's downtown zoning. Some interesting points came up during our conversation - some potential concerns - and I'd like to go over them here just in case they are floating around among the general public.
So it looks like the Smart Growth Implementation Committee has been working quite hard at tackling their long to-do list. One of these days I'll have to actually compile the list in a spreadsheet to show readers just how long it actually is. Suffice to say, it's ambitious. In their most recent meeting they spent some time reviewing the proposed changes to downtown zoning and even more time discussing changes to the Old Airport Road Zone.
The only thing I've seen out of the committee that I think should raise some eyebrows is their use of downtown parking revenue to fund facade improvements in Old Town and the Old Airport Road Zone.
Yesterday I received word from a friend at City Hall that on May 16th City Council was presented with a memorandum regarding proposed changes to downtown zoning. To find the entire memorandum, go here and scroll down to Annex C, 6. These are not minor changes, folks. This is HUGE!!
Hey folks. I don't really have time for a full post today. Instead I'm going to simply re-post some interesting comments to last week's "Weird Vibes" post regarding the downtown situation. I've added some thoughts at the end of each comment.
I had a great chat last night with a friend from Yellowknife who was passing through town and another friend who is an ex-pat like myself. We got to talking about the downtown YK situation. This morning I was reflecting on our conversation and it occurred to me that there are some pretty fundamental questions that Yellowknifers need to ask themselves.
This post is a companion to the Comox case study from Tuesday.
This won't be a long one today. I mostly want to get my Courtenay pics up here with a few comments. First off, check out this great intersection with the library on one side and an artists collective/public art gallery on the other. The art gallery, which used to be a fire hall, has a great little gift store on the main floor with all profits going towards the building admin costs.
When I set out today to reconnoitre downtown Comox, I had originally hoped to scope out Courtenay as well but unfortunately I forgot my wallet at home. Without a wallet I couldn't purchase the coffee necessary to make it through a grueling project like this. So now I'm sitting here at my parent's house waiting for the rain to clear up so I can complete the Courtenay half of my mission.
So my partner and I are headed to Comox, B.C. for Easter weekend. My parents retired there about four years ago so we have become pretty familiar with the place - and Courtenay, its sister-municipality. It occurred to me recently that perhaps the answers to Yellowknife's downtown woes might be found in Courtenay. They endured the same big-box-led exodus from their downtown that Yellowknife has been fighting and yet their downtown is thriving. And for those of you who would say, "ya but that's small town BC, not NWT," I would say, have you been to small town BC? Many BC towns aren't all that different from Yellownife - resource development, too much disposable income, transient population, etc. In fact if you go way back, both areas were managed by the HBC and both are still suffering from that legacy (well, that may be a stretch, but they were both managed by the HBC). Vancouver Island has largely moved past that now, but twenty years ago Courtenay was a lot like Yellowknife. We had gold, they had forestry and coal. We had the Gold Range, they had the Loft. They had a deer problem, we had a wolverine problem.
Some observations about downtown Courtenay:
That's all for now. I'll have a look around this weekend and see if there is anything else worth mentioning.
This is going to be a long rant.
There are a couple of good articles in the paper today about the downtown situation. Walt Humphries points out that the city has problems both inside and outside of the downtown core with loitering/panhandling. I've rarely encountered instances of panhandling in Yellowknife, but I can imagine that the examples provided by Walt would make people uncomfortable. The editorial discusses the issue of rehabilitation vs. enforcement of existing laws. They make a very good point that a rehabilitation center alone won't solve the downtown's problems. They raise this issue in response to the YK Chamber of Commerce's recent call for federal election candidates to commit to funding a rehab center in Yellowknife.