Cabinet minister Shane Thompson stopped in Hay River on July 9 for what was basically a get-to-know-you session with some of the employees he oversees.
“I actually come to meet staff from Lands and the Power Corp,” he said, noting he hasn’t previously had a chance to do so partly because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thompson said he has been using technology to keep in contact, such as Zoom and telephone calls, but person-to-person contact is a priority for him.
The minister said no specific issues were discussed during the visit.
“It was more to meet the staff. Get an opportunity to see them, talk to them, tell them I appreciate the work that they’re doing,” he said. “And apologize that I haven’t been able to reach out to them any sooner due to work and the Covid-19 situation.”
In Hay River, one of the issues involving the Department of Lands is a land-leasing dispute between the Town of Hay River and businessman Jeff Griffiths.
“I didn’t have any discussions with him,” said Thompson of the visit. “I did check out the lot itself.”
The lot in question, on which the town wants to build a lift station for the sewage system, is now in a process that would see it leased to the municipality by Lands.
“We’re going through the consultation process,” said Thompson. “That’s supposed to be done up here and then we’re moving forward on it. I mean this has been an issue that’s been going on for about three years. So we’re just trying to deal with it in a very timely manner now.”
The minister was asked if he had any plans to meet with the town and Griffiths to try to reach some sort of agreement on the lot.
“We’ve already had lots of conversations with both the town and the businessman on this,” said Thompson. “So right now I have no plans on meeting with them.”
As for his visit to the NWT Power Corporation, the Town of Hay River’s long-running plans to switch the community’s power franchise from Northland Utilities (NWT) Ltd. to the corporation was not on the agenda.
“It wasn’t something we discussed,” Thompson said. “It’s in the court system.”
Along with being responsible for the Department of Lands and the NWT Power Corporation, Thompson is the minister of Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) and the minister responsible for youth and seniors.
On July 20, he plans to be back in Hay River, along with ENR’s deputy minister and assistant deputy minister, to meet with departmental staff.
That tour of the region will also take him to Fort Providence, Fort Resolution and Fort Smith.
During his July 9 visit to Hay River, Thompson also met with representatives of K’atlodeeche First Nation, who wished to meet Noel Voykin, the president and CEO of the NWT Power Corporation.
In Fort Smith, Thompson planned to visit with Department of Lands staff there, along with Thebacha MLA Frieda Martselos and community leadership.