Town welcomes new public works director – Keith Morrison brings wealth of knowledge to Hay River

Keith Morrison has joined the staff at town hall as the new director of public works. He started on May 1, after moving to Hay River from British Columbia.

The Town of Hay River’s department of public works has a new leader.

Keith Morrison arrived on May 1 to take on the role of the department’s director.

Morrison moved to town from British Columbia because his love of the North drew him back above the 60th Parallel.

Prior to heading south, Morrison spent 10 years in Fort Smith and Yellowknife, along with a short stint in Inuvik.

Throughout his time in the North, he frequently found himself visiting Hay River and was impressed by the community.

“I’ve never lived in Hay River, but I was always passing through,” he said. “I was always impressed by Hay River. There is always a lot of bustle here, more so than a lot of the other communities in the North.”

Morrison is an engineer by trade, but brings a wealth of additional knowledge to both the department of public works and the town.

In Fort Smith, he was a whitewater kayaking guide and helped develop that town’s tourism plan.

Before coming back to the North, Morrison worked as park superintendent at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve for two years, where he had hoped he could retire and help bring tourism to the West Coast’s beaches.

But the North called to him and Morrison answered.

“I missed it so much,” he said. “Two years later, I just had to come back. Hay River is just a great opportunity that came up.”

Morrison is excited to be back in the North to experience all that Hay River has to offer, and he believes he has plenty he can offer in return.

“I think I can bring a lot of knowledge to the town,” he said, noting his background with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) and the Department of Public Works & Services makes him a good asset for the town.

His time with MACA gave him an understanding of what the government expects from communities and his public works and engineering experience rounds out his skills.

“I understand how industry works, consulting works and government works,” he said.

Morrison will be overlooking short-term, medium-term and long-term planning for the town and is currently diving head first into looking at the short construction season in Hay River.

“We have a very narrow window to building in the North,” he said.

Morrison is very confident in the direction the town is heading with respect to infrastructure and planning, and believes he will be able to help things move along smoothly.

“I think the community is going in a great direction,” he said. “I think they’ve got a really good balanced approach in terms of economy and recreation. They have it all.”

Morrison is also personally looking forward to the social and recreational opportunities in Hay River.

For example, he has a musical background and is excited to be able to bike to work in the morning.

“It is a good place to be for an active lifestyle,” he said of the community. “It’s great.”