City of Yellowknife votes down half-day Folk on the Rocks civic holiday

Yellowknife city council voted down a proposed half-day civic holiday to coincide with the opening of this year’s Folk on the Rocks music festival in July.

‘I think it creates a division in the community,’ says Coun. Konge

The Folks on the Rocks grounds in 2019 on the shores of Yellowknife's Long Lake. The music festival is set to return this year after it was cancelled last year due to the pandemic. (Madeline Lapointe/CBC)

Yellowknife city council voted down a proposed half-day civic holiday to coincide with the opening of this year's Folk on the Rocks music festival in July.

Only two councillors — Coun. Julian Morse and Coun. Shauna Morgan — voted in favour of the motion during Monday night's council meeting.

"I was actually a little bit surprised at how little support there was for this initiative," Morse admitted.

"I was under the impression that it would be something people are excited about."

Morse said he supported the idea, in part because the city's usual civic holiday, dedicated to the Long John Jamboree, didn't happen this year.

The half-day holiday however, proved unpopular among the majority of councillors.

"I think it creates a division in the community," said Coun. Niels Konge.

If someone doesn't have a government job, he said people "feel they are left out."

Coun. Stacie Smith said she too had not heard a lot of feedback from people who were in support of the idea and voted against it.

Mayor Rebecca Alty said she would rather leave it up to businesses and employers to decide whether to give their employees time off for half a day to attend the festival, or any other event in the city.

"Everybody has a kind of different event or cause that speaks to them," she said.

Council weighed the idea of a half-day civic holiday after Folk on the Rocks' executive director Carly McFadden advocated for it in an effort to get more people involved in the festival's 40th year. 

Folk on the Rocks is set to return July 16-18, after the pandemic scuttled the event last summer.

"Of course, we're disappointed," McFadden said in an interview with CBC News.

"But we also understand … and respect [council's] decision."

McFadden says preparations for the festival are going well, and she is in continual talks with health officials.

"While we don't have a definite in terms of what must be done on site yet, we're also feeling quite confident that we'll be able to move forward and in a way that is not super restrictive," she said.

"We're feeling very excited for what's to come."


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