With the new year comes new energy at town hall, particularly as both council and administration look towards development opportunities for 2014.
“We’re taking where we are and outlining where we want to be,” said Jordan Stackhouse, the town’s economic development co-ordinator. “We have all these great ideas floating around, but we don’t have an actionable plan to move forward with.”
While 2013 saw many projects begin, Stackhouse said the administration’s plan is to consolidate many of them into one document with a longer vision to create a better overview of priorities for the next three years.
The document will then be sent out for public consultation, a step Stackhouse said is key to the process of producing policy.
“We’re looking for community feedback,” he said. “We want to provide an opportunity for community engagement on something that’s more than a one-year plan.”
Part of that is increasing the flow of information between town hall and the residents of Hay River.
Overall, 2013 was a good year. The hub hosted territorial conferences, and tourism numbers were up over previous years.
Stackhouse said the municipality plans to continue to reach out to the business community and also to increase face-to-face meetings between business owners and town officials in an effort to better work together.
“We’re looking to work on an individual business level, and be a little bit more targeted in our approach,” he said.
Mayor Andrew Cassidy agreed that the future of Hay River looks bright, but that efforts need to continue to see more economic opportunity both come into and grow from within the community.
“Our strength will be the diversification of our economy,” he told The Hub. “The key is renewable resources.”
Cassidy cited forestry, fishing, tourism and agriculture as a few of the most significant factors in Hay River’s development, adding that, while agriculture is relatively new and small, it has the potential to create many opportunities for growth.
“We’ve kind of come away from the fishery, but that’s really what Hay River has been historically and it’s great to see it growing again,” Cassidy said. “It’s a big industry with a lot of past here and a bright future.”
Cassidy said the town would also continue to court outside industries, such as oil and gas, in the hopes that they might use Hay River as a convenient staging area, even if their activities take place elsewhere in the territory. The municipality is exploring options with Avalon Rare Metals, Husky Energy and Conoco Phillips for a variety of transportation and support services.
“In the end, we’re hoping these things will all come together and we’ll see some growth in our town,” Cassidy said. “We’re optimistic that these efforts will really strengthen our community.”