A major and long-awaited step forward for the fishing industry in Hay River was made on Jan. 8 with the announcement that the federal and territorial governments will jointly fund construction of a new $8.8-million fish plant – $8,872,000 to be exact.
The project will be supported with over $6.6 million from the federal government and over $2.2 million from the GNWT.
Construction, which will be tendered by the GNWT, is scheduled to begin in the spring of this year, and the plant is expected to be operational by the summer of 2020.
“The Canadian Northern Development Agency, or CanNor, recognizes the potential of this project to bolster economic diversification, foster long-term sustainable growth and support the wellbeing of communities in the North,” said Northwest Territories MP Michael McLeod during an announcement ceremony at Hay River Town Hall.
“Most of you in this room know that this has been a conversation that has been going on for a long time, so this is a big day for us,” said Hay River South MLA Wally Schumann, the minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, and Infrastructure.
Schumann noted the project is part of the GNWT’s strategy to rejuvenate the fishery of Great Slave Lake.
“We believe that with the right investment and approach our fishing industry can be a vibrant and prosperous sector,” he said. “This investment will mean greater returns for new and lifelong fishers working on the lake. It will mean new jobs in processing, packaging, selling and transporting NWT fish to market.”
The new facility will be built on two GNWT-owned lots near but not on the same site as the existing fish plant owned by the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation (FFMC). The new plant will be on the west side of Studney Drive, near the South Mackenzie Correctional Centre.
The new 1,600-square-metre fish plant will be capable of processing about 1.4 million kilograms of fish into a variety of high-quality products for both sale and export. The project includes the building, cold storage, loading docks, parking and driveways.
The operation will be managed by the Tu Cho Fishers Co-operative and the FFMC. The co-operative is a branch of the NWT Fishermen’s Federation.
When operational, the plant may employ up to 24 seasonal workers.
The federal government previously invested $1.45 million from CanNor for processing equipment, design and site planning for the facility.