A special meeting will be held in Hay River this month to discuss opportunities for the town and other communities to work together.
The Jan. 20 meeting, which is the idea of Mayor Brad Mapes, is being organized by the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA).
“I’ve asked the government to kind of push together an idea where we can bring the South Slave communities and around to come and see how we can work together as communities,” the mayor told The Hub.
Mapes said one example of possible co-operation would be waste management.
“We’re in a situation with our dump where we’re going to need to find another location,” he said. “Fort Smith, I believe, is in the same kind of boat.”
Mapes said maybe there’s an opportunity for the communities to find an appropriate location to use the same landfill.
The meeting will involve a number of other communities, including Fort Smith, K’atlodeeche First Nation, Fort Resolution, Fort Providence, Kakisa and Enterprise.
“The Town of Hay River is not looking at making money off of the outside communities,” Mapes said. “We’re trying to figure out how we can control our costs.”
The mayor added that, along with a landfill, possible co-operation could include such things as capital projects and roadwork.
“Maybe we can co-ordinate having our projects so that if there’s a whole pile of paving being done then we can work with all the other communities to kind of package our work together so that contract prices could be worked out better,” he said. “And we also run into timing problems with contractors where they’re committed to one community already.”
Plus, he said a simple thing would be communicating more and working together to co-ordinate community events, such as annual races or musical festivals, so that there is no overlapping.
Mapes said the goal is to help all communities control their costs and be more efficient.
His hope is that as a result of the meeting a committee might be set up so representatives of the communities could meet quarterly or maybe twice a year.
Mapes said he has already built a good relationship with the mayor of Fort Smith and they communicate regularly on issues, such as the 2018 Arctic Winter Games in the South Slave.
And he believes such co-operation can happen with other surrounding communities.
“I think that sometimes what happens is that each community is kind of competing against the other community,” he said. “What we can do is work as a team and feel that we’re working together to control our costs.”
Mapes noted there was a regional committee about 25 or 30 years ago, but he doesn’t know if it got to the point where the communities looked at how they could partner on projects.
When contacted by The Hub, MACA referred questions about the upcoming meeting to Mapes.