As of Jan. 1, 2011 the parking lot behind the Godwin Mall will be opened up for public use, following a vote of Hay River Town Council on Nov. 22.
After plenty of discussion, council agreed to leave in the current infrastructure, and just turn off the energized parking stalls so the lot can be opened to the public for a trial period.
The spaces facing the buildings will still be used as employee space.
Counciilor Kevin Wallington said ultimately council wants the switch to have a minimum impact on business owners in the building, but he doesn’t think the town has a parking problem, due to the vacant spaces often seen outside the Wright Centre.
“I don’t think we have a parking problem,” he said. “I think we have more of a walking problem.”
Councillor Ken Latour agreed that since the town had such minimal feedback on the surveys they sent out to business owners, making the trial switch was the best idea.
“If people don’t like this, we will hear about it,” he said.
Tensions were high at Nov. 22 Regular Meeting of Council began discussing the 165 public letters and requests for information that the town has received from Hay River residents regarding the Corridor.
There was some confusion in Council regarding the role of a liaison, and how the council should be responding to information requests.
Councillor Andrew Cassidy explained that although he is the liaison to the Corridor Rate Payers Association, he does not believe that information should have to come solely through him. He also said that there should be some sort of letter system to communicate with those who send letters into the Town.
“Regardless as to whether we can give them the information they are requesting or not, we need to at least get back to them with a formal letter,” he said.
Councillor Kevin Wallington agreed, noting he would like to set up a meeting with whoever spearheaded the movement of letters from the Corridor.
Mayor Kelly Schofield reminded Council that they must follow proper protocol when addressing these issues, which means that the liaison must be present. Cassidy was not present at the last council meeting.
Discussions continued around Northland Utilities and how the town would like to proceed with the contract that will end at the end of next year.
Council suggested forming a committee to look at the different options and the discussions that took place in previous years regarding the contract.
Councillor Kevin Wallington volunteered to be a part of the committee to expand his knowledge on the subject.
“I would put my name forward to assist on this,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Mike Maher and Councillor Ken Latour both volunteered as well.
Town councillors acknowledged that communication was a big issue for them, and so a communication committee is in the works to correct the situation.
“Communication has been a real issue with this council,” said Cassidy.
Wallington agreed stating that sometimes the message just doesn’t get out to the Town.
“Sometimes it can sound like we are just bumbling,” he said. “It is a very complex organization. You can spend all your time communicating and still not get your message out.”
Councillors Wallington, Cassidy and Bernard Dueck all volunteered to be a part of the committee.
Council has agreed that moving forward with discussions with Keith’s Water Services is the best route to go in terms of planning the future of Hay River’s trucked water.
Mayor Kelly Schofield indicated that Curtis Broadhead is more than willing to enter negotiations with the Town to come up with the best possible outcome.
Councillor Andrew Cassidy stated that he would like to see more public input on the matter, to which Deputy Mayor Mike Maher stated “that is why we are elected – to represent them.”
Schofield said that he was against going to the public for more input, with the deadline fast approaching.
Wallington agreed stating that people should be able to ask their questions about trucked water services.
“Obviously there is some confusion as to what we are discussing right now,” Cassidy said, jumping into the discussion.
Schofield said he was concerned with the obvious disconnect between council and the administration, which causes concern.
“I see a division here between council and administration and I don’t like it,” he said. “I would like to see more councillors come in and talk.”