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Hub year in review, April

No criminal charges in high-rise fire
Inspector Barry LaRocque was appointed officer in charge (OIC) of the RCMP’s South District in the NWT. Photo courtesy of the RCMP

No criminal charges in high-rise fire

Police said they found no reason to lay criminal charges related to the fire at the Hay River high-rise.

Also known as Mackenzie Place, the apartment complex was emptied after the March 2019 fire and hasn’t reopened.

Its owner, Harry Satdeo, said he still believed the fire was the result of arson.

New top Mountie for South Slave

Insp. Barry Larocque was named officer in charge of the NWT’s south district by the RCMP.

He is a 28-year veteran who spent most of his career in Alberta, including several plainclothes postings working with drug enforcement, criminal intelligence and national security. He led the development of a call-back unit that handed non-emergent issues, freeing up members for more complex calls for service.

“During my time as the OIC of South District, I want to promote community policing as much as possible,” he said. “From coaching to assisting Elders, to feasts, it’s all about good relationships with our citizens.”

Health halves home

The mystery around how many new long-term care beds Hay River could expect was dispelled.

The answer was half: 24 instead of the 48 the GNWT had been projected since in 2015. But there was still hope, as the catchment area for the home may have been miscast, according to Health Minister Julie Green, who said Fort Resolution and Fort Providence were excluded.

“We will ask the Bureau of Statistics to look again at the numbers with Fort Res and Fort Providence in mind and see what difference that makes.”

Town thinks about taxis

Town council considered easing the burden on Hay River’s two taxi companies by reducing the amount of time they were required to provide service.

Providing two cars around the clock just wasn’t feasible. The town’s SAO said there are Sundays when a driver is on duty for 24 hours only to make $10.

The main change was dropping to one cab per company between 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Town Coun. Brian Willows expressed concern that they were reducing the availability of taxis during a pandemic.

Town names new fire chief

Travis Wright, who spent about 10 years in the NWT Fire Marshal’s Office, was named Ross Potter’s successor as Hay River fire chief.

Potter planned to retire in June. Wright was named a deputy chief and took over as director of protective services on his first day, which was April 19.

“I was excited to get back to work for a specific department, and, honestly, being part of a strong team,” Wright, who worked previously as a firefighter in the Hub. “That’s what attracted me to come back.”