Opening of new Hay River fish plant estimated for fall of 2020

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Signs were erected on land on Studney Drive, near the South Mackenzie Correctional Centre, for the January announcement of funding for a new fish plant in Hay River.
NNSL file photo

A new fish plant in Hay River is expected to be operational by the fall of next year, not the summer of 2020 as initially predicted.

Drew Williams, the manager of public affairs with the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, noted a tender for engineering and architectural design was awarded last year.

Since then, there have been several design reviews, which included participation from the NWT Fishermen’s Federation.

“So now we’re in the detailed design stage of the construction process and expected to complete that process by the end of this year, and part of that would include issuing a tender for construction services this summer,” said Williams.

“If all of that goes fine, I think they’d still like to have the plant open and operating in the fall of 2020,” he added.

Williams could not say exactly when the construction tender would be called, but noted that restrictions on advertising competitions begin in August because of the upcoming territorial election.

“We’re not allowed to have procurement competitions out there while there’s an election on,” he said.

Williams said the GNWT has always talked about the new fish plant opening in 2020.

“I think we were always aiming for 2020,” he said. “Obviously, the summer fishing season would have been a logical target.”

Williams wouldn’t describe the new estimate of the plant opening in the fall of 2020 as a delay.

“I think it’s just a matter of making sure that we’ve been inclusive with our planning and thorough in our planning,” he said. “It takes a little bit more time here, and a little bit more time there.”

In January, the GNWT and the federal government announced joint funding to construct the new $8.8-million fish plant. The project will be supported with over $6.6 million from Ottawa and over $2.2 million from the territorial government.

At that time, it was estimated that construction would begin this spring.

The new facility will be built on two GNWT lots on Studney Drive, near the existing 1,100-square-metre fish plant owned by the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation (FFMC).

The new 1,600-square-metre plant, which will be owned by the GNWT, will be able to annually process about 1.4 million kilograms of fish into a variety of high-quality products.

The operation will be managed by the Tu Cho Fishers Co-operative, which is a branch of the NWT Fishermen’s Federation, and the FFMC.

The federal government previously invested $1.45 million from CanNor for processing equipment, design and site planning for the new plant.

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