A GNWT official is not saying one way or the other whether it is likely that the Town of Hay River will receive help to pay for fighting the recent landfill fire under the territorial disaster financial assistance program.
“We’d have to look at the details,” said Kevin Brezinski, the director of public safety with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA). “Each situation is very unique onto its own.”
On April 8, town council passed a motion calling on the GNWT to help cover the costs of the fire by applying its disaster financial assistance program.
At that meeting, council was told that the cost of the fire, which burned from March 3 to March 28, had reached $608,000 as of that date.
Brezinski said the assistance program does not just possibly cover the loss of items.
“There are extraordinary expenses that are associated with, let’s say, response efforts and stuff of that nature,” he said. “That is also sort of considered in the mix. So I would assume that, under the circumstances and considering the extraordinary effort that was required to avoid a major breach of public safety, that’s kind of what’s being focused on here. But we haven’t seen details.”
Brezinski explained that MACA will consideration an application, apply the policy and make a recommendation to the territorial cabinet.
“This is a cabinet policy,” he said. “MACA administers it on behalf of the Executive Council. So they make the call. But we learn the details of the event and the basis for the request, and then we make a recommendation to cabinet.”
Brezinski said he doesn’t imagine it will take very long to make a decision on a request from the Town of Hay River.
“Once we receive it, obviously we would give it a very careful look and then prepare a recommendation, which would then be sent through to Executive Council,” he said. “They have the ability to exercise discretion on these kinds of things.”
Brezinski noted that one of the key elements of the program is it is not designed to replace insurance.
“We have a responsibility to consider all requests. There’s no question about that,” he said. “We don’t know how the municipal authority’s insurer looks at this. If it’s covered under insurance, then of course certainly there would be no consideration of the disaster assistance policy.”
The Hub unsuccessfully attempted last week to obtain more information from the Town of Hay River about its application for disaster financial assistance from the GNWT.