We created a whole handout for the committee as well as all government staff to look at, because there are some unique challenges to funding and operating in the north. There is stuff about flexibility of timing. Some of these smaller communities, like Coville Lake or the community of Lutselk'e, are only accessed during the winter, with winter roads, or they only have a barge. As well, we have three or four communities that are only fly-in/fly-out communities and there's never winter road access. We need to ensure that we get responses on our applications in time to then be able to go and build.
To meet the tight federal deadlines is sometimes a challenge. Having that flexibility of timing and being able to hear back in quick order is definitely required, as well as the distribution of funds as base-plus as opposed to just per capita, because, again, some of those smaller communities are not able to do the cost sharing. There are a lot of different pots and being able to stack federal funding can mean the communities can actually use it.
Simplified applications and reporting is another challenge. Again, for a community with a population of 80, you have one or two staff members. With these long, cumbersome applications, they're not going to apply, and they're the ones who need it. In Yellowknife, we're the biggest community, with half of the population of the Northwest Territories. We had to hire somebody full-time to keep up, to apply for all the great climate change money that's provided by the federal government and to answer to all the accountability questions.
Another challenge is being able to streamline reporting and the broader interpretation of projects. When it comes to the gas tax, it's those broad categories, and then making sure that we meet the same outcomes.
Stuff like the public transit funding was much more defined. Yellowknife was the only community in the Northwest Territories that was eligible, and the only thing we really could do with the funding was buy bus stops. I don't think either of us is meeting our intended outcomes. That's not meeting our community priorities, and I don't think that's meeting what you intended as a federal government. Making your funding so restrictive limits what we're able to achieve.
Again, there's way more information in there. I'm happy to chat about this all day.