The Town of Hay River’s long wait for approval of its community plan by the GNWT has finally ended.
The town received approval in mid-September after Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) Minister Paulie Chinna signed off on the plan.
It had been sent to MACA for approval in August of last year after passing second reading at town council.
During its Sept. 22 online meeting, council was able to finally pass third and final reading of the plan.
“That is a long-awaited one,” said Mayor Kandis Jameson of the approval.
Glenn Smith, the town’s senior administrative officer, said he was happy to receive notice that the community plan was approved by the minister of MACA.
The community plan passed first reading by council in September 2018 and then went to public consultation, which was followed by second reading in August 2019. After that, it was sent to MACA.
In comments to The Hub, Smith said the town understands there were two big factors that caused the GNWT approval of the community plan to take over a year.
“They wanted to conduct a process of consultation with Indigenous groups and that took a long time and didn’t have any timelines associated with it,” he said. “And then really Covid also had an impact, as well.”
Plus, he noted there was a change of territorial government after last year’s election.
Smith said the wait for approval meant land rezoning and sale of properties were affected.
“You want to make sure that document is finished and then you have to go through your zoning bylaw updates,” he said. “And if there are any cases where you might have a new rezoning for land, in the case of especially where there might be property that you want to sell, then you’re waiting for this document to be finalized.”
Smith added the document also lays out a plan for other areas, such as the proposed Fraser Place residential land development.
The long wait for approval of the community plan caused some frustration among town councillors.
In late July, Deputy Mayor Robert Bouchard called the situation “ridiculous.”
At that time, Bouchard noted that a change of ministers at MACA also appeared to impact the approval.
Chinna was replaced as MACA minister by Premier Caroline Cochrane in April, only to see the portfolio return to Chinna in a cabinet shuffle on July 23.