Mayor of Yellowknife visits Sweden for research project
The Mayor of Yellowknife has returned from a trip to Luleå, Sweden, where she learned how the northern European city compares to the capital of the Northwest Territories.
During her visit to Luleå, Mayor Rebecca Alty and representatives from other northern cities met with local leaders and learned about the city’s approach to housing, public transport, waste management, municipal planning and a new fossil-free steel plant.
“We certainly share a lot of similarities and then a lot of differences,” Alty said.
“Being able to share what is happening in our communities… was really interesting.
Luleå, located on the northern coast of Sweden, is home to around 78,000 people, with the number of inhabitants increasing by around 500 every year.
It has a major steel and engineering industry, a growing trade and tourism sector, and is home to creative industries and a university.
Like Yellowknife, there are ice roads in the winter, boating is popular in the summer, and it only takes 10 minutes to get from place to place in the city.
Alty said the Swedish city faces the same challenge recruiting and retaining workers and has found it easier to attract international residents than those living in southern Sweden.
“I think Yellowknife has a lot of similar things,” Alty said, “where it’s easier to attract international residents versus sometimes southern residents, who might feel like they’re going to this dark place , cold and distant.
Luleå’s economy is booming, Alty said, thanks to cheap, reliable and renewable energy as well as a university that is a hub for research.
Alty was invited to the trip by George Washington University, one of several US universities partnering on a five-year research project on urban sustainability in five circumpolar cities.
Besides Luleå and Yellowknife, researchers from the University of Virginia, George Washington University, the University of Alaska Anchorage, and the University of Northern Iowa are studying Fairbanks, Alaska, and Naryan- Mar and Yakutsk in Russia.
The universities received a $4.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation to carry out the project. It will examine the connections between cities and how indicators help community decision-makers redesign infrastructure in response to climate change pressures and economic challenges.
Alty said she thinks Yellowknife will benefit from the research project, particularly climate change modeling, as the city is expected to be among the top five percent of communities affected by warming in the coming years.