Is Hay River being ignored by the territorial government?
Speaking in the legislature on Monday, Hay River South MLA Jane Groenewegen said she was tired of being a “happy, optimistic champion” for the town in the face of perceived government indifference.
“Who cares about Hay River, the second largest community in the Northwest Territories? People say things like I like Hay River, I like coming to Hay River, but that’s not going to cut it,” said Groenewegen.
“The absolute success of Hay River over the years has been its diversified economy, and was made up of things like tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, the commercial fishery, the transportation hub, the railhead of the North. But lots of these things are being left to languish right now.
“It seems we can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to go to China and Japan to get more tourists for the Northwest Territories. But those tens of thousands of tourists are coming to Yellowknife. Let’s call a spade a spade. They’re not coming anywhere else.
“Where was this government when the Greyhound bus service, which is a national bus service, cut off its bus service to Hay River? Oh, that was only 25 little tourists getting off the bus every week in Hay River. Oh, but we don’t care about them. But we sure care about those tens of thousands that are coming to Yellowknife.”
Robert Bouchard, the MLA for Hay River North, joined Groenewegen’s criticism by urging the territory to get on with decentralizing government jobs.
The GNWT has pledged to move many positions out of Yellowknife and into the communities. Bouchard is concerned that an effective plan to do that is not in place.
“We don’t have a plan of how many jobs are going to get out to the smaller communities, how we’re going to do that,” said Bouchard.
“How are those people that are being moved being told? Are they being told three months away, two months away or a year ahead? Maybe we should have a better plan to go forward on decentralization. It’s important.
“We need to move people back out to their regions, out to their communities when we get jobs out that way.”