Three years, three recreational spaces, three federal investments.
Stephane Millette, director of recreation announced during the July 6 town council meeting that the municipality is to receive $745,000 from Canada for revitalization efforts at the Vale Island multi-use recreation area, the Bob McMeekin Chamber Park and the Porritt Landing Marina. The money comes from the federal government’s Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
The cost of the projects will be slpit 75/25 federal government/town.
Millette said he isn’t expecting much construction work to take place until 2022 as most of the design and engineering work, as well as purchasing and permitting will take place this year.
The Vale Island project, is a priority item at the moment, he said, largely because there are concerns about the need for accessible recreational facilities in Old Town.
He said that the project will see about $300,000 go toward enhancing the area, which includes a ball diamond that hasn’t been used in more than a decade. There is also a small playground and a nearby outdoor skating rink across the road which has been using snowbanks for boards.
The Bob McMeekin Chamber Park, located at the Welcome to Hay River sign, will also see $300,000 budgeted- a well-used area by residents and which Millette says the town sees as being in need of some upgrades.
The park is the main trail head of the Trans Canada Trails program that the town is involved.
Millette said the park will see an overall revitalization of the area that will include an outdoor amphitheatre at the natural slope of the river bank with a fire pit and performance area with an outdoor shelter.
As for the Porritt Landing Marina, it will get the remainder $145,000, which will see the preparation for a facility to mark the area’s history as a transportation hub and fishing culture.
Millette said the approved application also provides for a seasonal operation and to have a sport tourism or concessional operator.
Millette said that as part of the funding requirements, the town is talking to area Indigenous groups and representatives from the West Point First Nation, the Hay River Metis Governing Council and the Katl’odeeche First Nation to get their blessing on some of the work taking place.
“It is good news. It’s great news, really. These are spaces that are widely used and well appreciated by residents and given that we see these are used by residents, we are happy to be able to access funding that will help us improve them even further so that people can enjoy them even more. “
The federal government’s Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) provides $33 billion in federal funding through bilateral agreements between Infrastructure Canada and the provinces and territories.
The fund has five funding streams that focus on public transit, green infrastructure, community culture and recreation infrastructure, rural and northern communities and COVID-19 resilience.
Of the money allocated, $570 million has been set aside for the Northwest Territories.
Jay Boast, media spokesperson with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs said communities have the ability to access $117 million through four funding streams that includes $8.1 million for public transit, $37 million for green infrastructure stream, $20.5 million for community, culture and recreation, and $51.7 million for rural and northern communities.
“The department has engaged with NWT communities and the Northwest Territories Association of Communities and supported priority for community solid waste projects under the Green Infrastructure stream and local community road improvements under the Rural and Northern Communities Stream.
“We are aware of projects proposed by the Town of Hay River under the most recent, 2021, ICIP intake and have been supporting them through the application process with Infrastructure Canada. These projects, among others, are currently with Infrastructure Canada for evaluation and ultimate approval.”
Millette said that the town also received $200,000 last week through the GNWT Department of Infrastructure’s Community Accessibility Program which provides financial assistance for recreational assets like docks, wharves, access roads, water ways and traditional trails.
Money will be going toward the improvement to the Porritt Landing marina and retaining walls, which Millette said are in significant need of repair. Some money will also go toward annual dredging efforts that ensure boats are able to get in and out of the marina.
Still another part of the funding will go to the first year of repairs and resurfacing of the Hay River Ski club and Golf Club road.
“Part of the need is due to erosion and drainage issues with some of the culverts and year one is to address drainage issues and prepare for resurfacing in 2022,” he said.