At its recent annual general meeting, the NWT Association of Communities approved a resolution from the Town of Hay River concerning the territorial government's disaster assistance policy. The resolution was prompted by the GNWT's decision not to help the town pay the expenses from a dump fire that burned for most of March 2019.

During its recent annual general meeting, the NWT Association of Communities approved a resolution from the Town of Hay River calling for changes to the territorial government’s disaster assistance policy.

The resolution was prompted by the GNWT’s decision not to help the town pay the expenses from a dump fire that burned for most of March 2019.

It calls for a number of changes, including that the policy consider extraordinary, emergency fires at solid waste management facilities as potential disasters, and that the maximum assistance be increased to $1 million from $100,000.

The resolution was approved at the online AGM held from Feb. 25-27.

Deputy Mayor Robert Bouchard told delegates that the Town of Hay River is still upset with the GNWT, including the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA), for not supporting the municipality’s request for financial assistance.

“I want to say the town council of Hay River are going to do different things when they have a state of emergency now,” he said. “MACA and the other departments are going to have to deal directly with the state of emergency because they basically burned up a credit with us. We got zero support here. From my perspective, it’s very frustrating and very maddening, and our council is very mad.”

Bouchard said the cost of the dump fire totalled $938,000, and only $100,000 was covered by the town’s insurance.

Sara Brown, the CEO with the NWT Association of Communities, said the resolution will be sent to Premier Caroline Cochrane and her cabinet.

“We have no idea how the territorial government is going to respond to that because it’s the first time that we put that in front of them, other than we have made comments before generally about the emergency assistance program,” Brown said. “We’ll start asking questions, but until we get that reply back it’s really hard to say what their position is going to be.”

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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