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EDITORIAL: Hay River an important hub for decentralization

Colette Langlois will be setting up an office in Hay River sometime this summer as the NWT's first ombud, which is an independent statutory officer of the Legislative Assembly.

It's great that a new territorial office is being established in this town.

When The Hub recently interviewed Langlois about her new role, we naturally asked why the office is being set up in Hay River.

Honestly, we expected a not-too-enthusiastic explanation from Langlois – who grew up in Yellowknife and worked there for many years – that the decision was in keeping with the GNWT's stated policy of decentralization.

However, Langlois said she recommended that the new office be located in Hay River.

We have to admit it was refreshing and encouraging to hear a Yellowknife resident – especially a government employee – say they want to move to Hay River.

Could it be that some Yellowknifers are finally starting to see the light that Hay River is a good place to live in comparison with the capital city?

Our better judgment will not allow us to promote Hay River by going on a rant against Yellowknife and its delusions of grandeur as the capital of the NWT.

Instead, we will let Langlois explain her decision to set up shop here.

Colette Langlois is the NWT's first ombud, and she officially started in that role on April 8. Photo courtesy of Colette Langlois / Photo by Tara Marchiori
Colette Langlois is the NWT's first ombud, and she officially started in that role on April 8.
Photo courtesy of Colette Langlois / Photo by Tara Marchiori

She told The Hub that modern communications allow such offices to be outside of Yellowknife, and Hay River is known as the Hub of the North for a reason.

"It's a really good access point," she said, adding the great highway connections to many communities will assist in her travels for work.

That makes complete sense. Even driving to the Deh Cho is shorter from Hay River than Yellowknife, and you don't have to drive over a roller-coaster disguised as a highway to get there.

Plus, Langlois noted that the ombud position is a public office and locating it in Hay River helps promote decentralization, and setting up in this community sends a "strong signal" that the office is for the whole territory.

Exactly. Again, that makes complete sense.

Now, we don't expect a stampede of government offices to head to Hay River in light of Langlois' decision.

She, no doubt, is in the minority of territorial workers in Yellowknife who would see the many positives of living in Hay River.

But in case any of them are reading this, there's also cheaper housing (although admittedly not always easy to find), a closer driving distance to the South, great recreational facilities, a French-language school and many more benefits.

The most important thing to remember is that the NWT does not begin and end with Yellowknife. There are many other places to live and work in this territory, and Hay River is among the best of them.

Of course, Langlois was not rejecting Yellowknife in any way with her decision to set up the ombud office in Hay River. She apparently looked at the options and came to the quite reasonable conclusion that Hay River is a very good location.

We congratulate her on her open mind, and we will be happy to welcome her to this community.