People, housing, land: N.W.T. business leaders call for cascade of change from next gov’t – by Sidney Cohen (CBC News Canada North – October 21, 2023)

‘Fundamentally, if you want to grow the economy, you need to grow your population.’

The outlook was rather grim. “The recovery from the pandemic returns the economy to its pre-pandemic path of slow decline,” read this year’s budget documents for the Northwest Territories.

The budget goes on to list a raft of challenges: inflation, high interest rates, a shortage of workers, insufficient economic diversification, and the fast-approaching closure of the territory’s three diamond mines. This summer’s devastating wildfires and evacuations haven’t helped the situation.

Now, candidates in the N.W.T. general election are out canvassing, and business leaders are expressing their concerns and offering ideas for how to invigorate the territory’s wilting economy. “Fundamentally, if you want to grow the economy, you need to grow your population,” said Rob Warburton, a Yellowknife developer and city councillor.

Specifically, the territory needs more skilled workers, he said, but a lack of housing across the N.W.T. is a big barrier to bringing them in. “All the focus of government is consistently about social housing and the housing corporation, which needs a lot of attention, but there’s no conversation around the private sector, which actually provides most of your housing in Yellowknife, Hay River,” he said.

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