Hay River Visitor’s Guide not Town’s to sell

Mayor and Council,
Town of Hay River,

February 28, 2011:

An Open letter to Hay River Town Hall from The Hub publisher, Chris Brodeur:

Dear Mr. Schofield and Councillors:

I thought I should clear up some misunderstandings regarding the Hay River Visitors Guide. From what I have heard the Mayor and some councilors appear to believe that the Hay River Visitors Guide is and was a proprietary Town publication. It is not, and in fact, if anything it is a proprietary publication of Hub Publications Ltd.

A little history will illustrate why this is so.

In the early 2000s, my editor of the time, Sean Percy, felt it was time Hay River had a proper glossy visitors guide. He and the team at The Hub did all the writing, used photos from The Hub’s archive and sold all the advertising to produce Hay River’s first such guide. The advertising paid for much of our work and for a small press run. However, since the Guide would also benefit the Town, the decision was made to approach the Town to partner with us and to put money into the guide to pay for an increased press run so The Guide could have a larger reach. The Town agreed and as the Town was now contributing some cash to the project and was our partner, I decided that it made sense to put the Town on the masthead beside The Hub to recognize the partnership.

So it was with some consternation when we learned the Town was going to tender the project The Hub originated and did all the creative work on (which is, by the way copyrighted The Hub), without even the courtesy of consulting with us first to determine the ownership of “Hay River Visitors Guide” or if the Town wished to continue contributing to the printing costs of the Guide. We question the wisdom of spending additional taxpayer dollars with an out-of-town business to re-invent a wheel that we had already invented and were happily partnering with the Town. Admittedly, we feel a little like we’ve been stabbed in the back by a partner. We must also caution the Town and its contractor Kellett against using any of the copyrighted articles or photographs from past Hub publications.

It must be said when the Town went to tender for what it considered its guide, The Hub did not put much effort into the tender submission for three reasons: 1st We had produced the Guide for a number of years and the Town can see what we had produced in previous years. (Our effort would go into producing the Guide not producing a tender submission. 2nd This Guide is on our production schedule every two years and The Hub fully intended to produce The Guide again this year, regardless of if an out of town business were also to do one. 3rd The Guide is not the Town’s to tender out.

Further, attempts to get the terms of the Town contract with Kellett have been stymied by Town administration. Competing tenderers, and in fact the public at large, should have access to the terms of Town contracts. What is the Town hiding? However, this is just business as usual at Hay River Town Hall. Accountability and transparency are not currently strong suits with our Town fathers and the administration.

It is unfortunate The Town is in the situation of financing an out of town business to do what a local business has done well for years. Further it puts Kellett in a conflict of interest situation with one of its clients to whom it provides GNWT advertising on the one hand and is competing with in production of the guide on the other. (Who will get GNWT ITI advertising for this project). Perhaps the GNWT had better take a look at its advertising contract with Kellett to see if it is Kosher for it to be placing GNWT advertising with those newspapers it is also competing with.

At the end, what is unfortunate is that the Town did not see fit to partner with a local business, which has served this community for almost 40 years, to produce this year’s Visitor Guide.

Yours very truly,

Chris Brodeur
Publisher, The Hub