Several chambers of commerce in the territory are reacting negatively to comments in News/North last week by the NWT Housing Corporation’s president, who suggested local housing organizations could sell building materials in communities without hardware stores.
“So, one of the things that we were looking at in the new year is … we may get our local housing organization to serve as a hardware store in the smaller communities to provide material which could be purchased,” said Tom Williams, in a story addressing chronic housing shortages in the territory.
In an open letter published Monday afternoon, six chamber directors and presidents slammed the possible program as “extremely upsetting and discouraging.
“We respectively request that the NWT Housing Corporation immediately cease any further planning and/or roll out of the above-mentioned program. This will irreparably harm existing local businesses in an already grim economic outlook.”
“The role of government and Crown corporations is not to be competition to private industry but to help support it and grow the economy. If the local hardware stores had more government support, they would be able to lower their prices due to the increase in sales.
“Driving businesses to shut down due to the lack of support or unnecessary competition created by their own government in unfair and against the housing corporation’s own mission statement,” reads the letter.
The NWT Housing Corporation explained to NNSL Media a possible plan to roll out hardware stores in small communities.
“Where there are no competing businesses and homeowners wouldn’t have access to building materials, we’re exploring the option of having our local housing organizations be able to sell building materials to homeowners,” said Charles Sanders, spokesperson for the housing corporation.
Efforts to contact Renée Comeau, executive director of the NWT Chamber of Commerce, were not immediately successful.
Read the full story in Wednesday’s Yellowknifer.