Town Hall administration will soon go public in its pursuit to secure new operators for Fisherman’s Wharf.
A formal go-ahead to seek expressions of interest was approved by council on April 25.
Fisherman’s Wharf, a popular weekend riverside gathering spot for locals and tourists alike looking to purchase quality fish from numerous on-site vendors, remains rudderless after long-time operators the West Channel Heritage Society decided to step away from the role last September.
While the public appeal process isn’t expected to officially begin until this Friday, Judy Goucher, senior administrative officer at the Town of Hay River, said informal inquiries have already been made by interested parties looking to take the reins.
“But we’ll still go through the public process of seeking expressions of interest and do it as quickly as possible, but with enough time to allow people who are interested to put together their proposals,” said Goucher.
As a “mini market” that offers patrons much more than fish, including vegetables, jams and more, Goucher said Fisherman’s Wharf is “almost like a Saturday homecoming.”
In town administration’s report to council – which notes Fisherman’s Wharf’s prominence as a tourist attraction – an emphasis is placed on ensuring the wharf is “open for business” come summer, when vendors typically operate from mid-June to mid-September.
Goucher said she’s optimistic new operators will assume the position before those key months.
“There’s a lot of different vendors who enjoy the wharf or use the wharf, so I’m going to say we are hopeful,” she said.
“If we don’t get a positive response then we’ll look at what our other options are. We’re all in on our plan A at this point.”
Hay River mayor Brad Mapes went beyond hopeful optimism in his assessment of the pending pursuit of interest.
“You can mark my words, we’ll have someone in place here when the season is ready to open up,” said Mapes, adding he expects the process to land a new operator in a month or so.
“The Fisherman’s Wharf is a huge draw for our community. Our town is committed to ensuring we fix it up even better. We’ve been trying to look at other sources of funds to make the area better along with Porritt Landing,” he said.
The West Channel Heritage Society, a non-profit group, should be succeeded by another not-for-profit organization, said Mapes.
“We all have to work together to make the wharf better and the Fisherman’s Wharf is a huge part of our community. Everybody wants to see it go forward.”
The public pursuit of expressions of interest will see Town Hall administration harness advertisements and social media to get the word out, said Judy Goucher.