Jackie Milne was happy to have a chance to talk to members of the legislative assembly’s standing committee on economic development and environment during its visit to Hay River last week.
Milne, president of the Northern Farm Training Institute (NFTI), said it was good to see the committee in town.
“What I really noticed about them is there is a genuine interest to make progress to help develop stability in the North,” she said. “Like I could tell that in their faces.”
The standing committee was in Hay River from April 18 to 20 for strategic planning meetings.
“Not only did we get to focus on our own strategic discussions but we got to have this good insightful discussion with associations and businesses from around Hay River,” said Cory Vanthuyne, deputy chair of the standing committee and the MLA for Yellowknife North.
The meetings are intended to help set the priorities and objectives of the committee.
While in Hay River, the committee members met with representatives of the NWT Fishermen’s Federation, Polar Egg, Aurora Wood Pellets, K’atlodeeche First Nation and many others.
“It’s important to hear from folks that are on the ground working every day in our economy and hear what they have to say, the good and bad, and bring that message back and make sure we’re carrying that into the budget deliberations,” said Vanthuyne.
The standing committee’s visit to Hay River also included Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly, Kam Lake MLA Kieron Testart, Sahtu MLA Danny McNeely and Hay River North MLA Rocky (RJ) Simpson.
Vanthuyne said the discussions included economic development and diversification.
“One of the things this committee talked about is how we can diversify our economy, put a little bit more investment into tourism, into traditional industry, fishing, hunting, trapping, and creative industry likes arts and culture,” he said. “So that we’re not so reliant on just non-renewable resources.”
The MLA said the visit will help the standing committee make better decisions when it develops recommendations.
“Getting out of Yellowknife is a good thing, so that you can keep you head clear and not have outside influences bothering you so much,” he said, adding having heart-to-heart discussions with NWT groups and organizations is a priority for the standing committee. “And that’s what we did, and it was very worthwhile.”
Milne also found the discussions very positive when the committee members visited the NFTI site for almost an hour.
“We discussed long-term development, long-term investment, and they definitely agree that we need to look more at stable things, like agriculture, that are going to be appropriate for the North,” she said. “They were highly attentive.”