Hay River town council is getting frustrated waiting for approval of its Community Plan by the GNWT.

The town sent the document to the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) in the summer.

“The town submitted its bylaw for ministerial approval in August of 2019, having completed all of the steps required and getting it to second reading,” said Judy Goucher, the town’s senior administrative officer, at the Feb. 10 meeting of council. “I’m going to say the election played some role in a delay, but as of yet we have not received ministerial sign-off.”

1Coun. Keith Dohey says the wait is “getting a little bit ridiculous” for the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs to approve a Community Plan submitted by the Town of Hay River.
NNSL file photo

Goucher said the latest communication from MACA is that the Indigenous groups that the town consulted are now going to be consulted one-on-one by the territorial department.

“And my understanding is those meetings have not been set yet,” she said. “So as far as I’m aware, we are still in limbo until Municipal and Community Affairs completes their process.”
Goucher called the situation “extremely frustrating” considering a community plan is what the town’s needs to move ahead with land development.

“And we have some lots that we were looking to sell immediately, but we need some rezoning to take place first,” she added. “So we were hopeful to get our Community Plan signed off so we could immediately turn around and ask to amend one particular area to get it rezoned so that we could sell lots right away.”

Goucher said the town had communicated its concerns to MACA on multiple occasions before the department responded in early February.

Coun. Keith Dohey was not happy with what he heard about the situation.

“It’s turned into a bit of a joke, in my opinion, as long as this has gone on,” he said. “We’ve got a duty to consult. We did that. And now we’re being told that the government is going to turn around and they’re going to have to do their own consulting, anyway. So why make us run through all this process if it’s going to mean nothing at the end of it, anyway?”

Dohey said the town is being tied up.

“The land that we have available to sell we can’t sell because they’re sitting on our Community Plan,” he said. “So I think it’s getting a little bit ridiculous and it’s just another one of those things where Hay River is getting the short end of the stick again.”

The Community Plan was expected to be one of the topics raised on Feb. 18 when Premier Caroline Cochrane and a delegation of ministers were to meet with council.

The premier and the cabinet ministers were scheduled to be in the area for their annual bilateral meeting with K’atlodeeche First Nation on Feb. 18.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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