Fort Providence became the second community to sign a Forest Management Agreement with the GNWT this year, bringing the proposed pellet mill project in the South Slave one step closer to fruition on Oct. 24.
Neither Hay River nor the K’atlodeeche First Nation have any direct involvement as of yet — plans would put the pellet mill itself in Enterprise — but Mayor Andrew Cassidy said he looks forward to the benefits of a new industry nonetheless.
“At the end of the day, what’s good for the South Slave is good for us, and this is great for the South Slave,” he told The Hub. “If a logging industry starts up, Hay River will benefit, whether it’s from trucking, or other spin-off work.”
Cassidy said the management agreements are the first of their kind in the NWT in terms of stability and staying-power. While other operations have agreements for five years, the deal Fort Providence has just signed will allow for more investment, he said.
“It’s 25 years, with a set amount of wood to harvest, and that makes it attractive for businesses to come in and make long-term plans here,” he said. “Whether or not the logging and processing happens here in Hay River, the impact will be huge.”
“The signing was a great event,” said Aurora Wood Pellet’s main proponent Brad Mapes. “All the leaders from the community were very positive.”
Fort Resolution signed a similar agreement in February, at which point Mapes said he hoped the development would pave the way for more communities to work together to form agreements. He had also said that bringing the local Metis and First Nation groups together had been a necessary step towards signing.
– Sarah Ladik