Construction of a new permanent structure – being described as a pavilion – is expected to start soon in the Fisherman’s Wharf area.

Town council unanimously approved the project at its Aug. 28 meeting.

On Aug. 31, Glenn Smith, left, the assistant senior administrative officer and acting director of recreation with the Town of Hay River, and Terry Rowe, an executive member with Polar Pond Hockey, visited the site of a proposed pavilion on town land near the Fisherman’s Wharf outdoor market. Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

The motion calls for a two-year capital project worth $440,000 to construct the pavilion on town property adjacent to Fisherman’s Wharf to host events in support of economic, recreation and arts programs.

The approval is conditional of the town securing a minimum of 75 per cent of the project cost through contribution funding, although the municipality seems confident that will happen.

The town itself plans to contribute $110,000.

While approving the project, councillors were enthusiastic about what the pavilion would mean for the community.

Coun. Keith Dohey called it a welcome proposal and a good opportunity.

“It’s great,” he said. “I certainly support it.”

Coun. Steve Anderson also called it a great idea.

“I think it’s going to really bode well for the community of Hay River,” Anderson said. “There’s been a lot of discussion over the years about building something like this.”

Mayor Brad Mapes also wholeheartedly supported the idea, noting that the Fisherman’s Wharf outdoor market is a huge part of the town’s economy during the summer.

Plus, he said it will benefit the Polar Pond Hockey tournament in the winter.

“I think there are opportunities to expand our recreation and also our economy,” he said.

In comments to The Hub, Mapes speculated that other events, such as snowmobile and dog team races, could use the pavilion.

“I really believe in it,” he said of the project.

While it is being described as a two-year project, Mapes explained it is hoped that groundwork will be complete before snowfall and the structure built next summer.

“It will be basically done for next summer,” he said. “So it’s not really a two-year project.”

According to background information prepared for council, the town was approached by Polar Pond Hockey seeking support for a location and partnership for a permanent structure.

The project would create a large open-concept pavilion and market vendor booths with the capacity to accommodate 300-400 people.

The pavilion will be fully accessible with open air features during summer months to accommodate vendors and visitors to the weekly Fisherman’s Wharf outdoor market, and other events could be accommodated.

“Currently the Fisherman’s Wharf market is at maximum capacity with a waiting list for booth rentals and requests for booth rentals now coming from out-of-town vendors,” noted the report, which was prepared by Glenn Smith, the town’s acting recreation director and assistant senior administrative officer.

The Fisherman’s Wharf outdoor market currently has 14 booths.

In the winter, the pavilion will be enclosed with fire-rated walls, which could extend the market season.

The report noted Polar Pond Hockey has outgrown its tented infrastructure and requires a more permanent facility to meet participant demand and requirements of the National Building Code and the NWT Fire Marshal’s Office.

It also predicted the pavilion could support jet boat racing and other boating activities, tours up the river and onto Great Slave Lake, aurora viewing, and other activities.

The town will take responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the asset once it is constructed.

In comments to The Hub, Smith said a pavilion would be a perfect opportunity to put Polar Pond Hockey’s interests and Fisherman’s Wharf opportunities together, and build a structure that would help support both.

“The Wharf will get more booths out of it and the ability to have a longer season, and Pond Hockey can continue to host a very successful event which brings a lot of teams into the community,” he said.

Plus, Smith believes the pavilion would be a location for other events, including the Hay Days music and cultural festival in the summer.

“There seems to be a lot of demand and things that are occurring in town where people are renting tents, but now they will be able to rent a facility,” he said.

Terry Rowe, an executive of Polar Pond Hockey, welcomes the proposed pavilion.

In fact, Polar Pond Hockey is willing to consider being involved in the project with some funding and construction support.

“We want to be a part as much as we can, whatever we can to get it done,” said Rowe.

If the pavilion is built, he expects it will definitely increase the number of teams coming to the tournament.

Rowe added a pavilion will make Polar Pond Hockey more comfortable for players between games on the river, noting, “It’s still pretty cold in that tent.”

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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