Left out in the cold
Resolute mayor angry at MACA decision

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

RESOLUTE BAY (Dec 07/98) - Gary Guy had visions of community members attending family skates and shinny hockey games next year once Resolute Bay's long, dark winter set in.

But, because of changes made by the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) in what he thought was the final version of the hamlet's capital plan, the mayor of Resolute Bay said his wishes would have to be put on hold again.

"We came down for this meeting and we went and saw (MACA) and he handed us the five-year plan and for a minute there, I said you've got the wrong community," said Guy.

When he had last spoken with the department in the spring during a conference call to plan the hamlet's priorities for the next five years, Guy said he thought it was agreed that a $250,000 enclosed skating rink topped the list.

Last week when the mayor met with MACA officials, he said an entirely different plan was presented to him.

"All of a sudden, the fence for the dump is a priority, the water and sewer is a priority, retro-fits on the trucks are a priority. At the bottom of the list is an enclosed arena two or three years down the road."

Guy told MACA the changes were unacceptable and said he was especially infuriated that he wasn't consulted about them.

"(They're) making the decisions, not us. Once again, the communities get no input," said Guy.

He asked that the funding for the other projects be transferred over and spent on the enclosed skating rink, but Doug Sitland, a municipal planning engineer at MACA said that wasn't possible.

Sitland explained that the hamlet had asked to have the rink advanced on its list of priorities but, after considering the situation, MACA had to deny the request because of budget constraints.

"Not all of the communities' priorities are advanced when asked...and we can't just shift funds," said Sitland, noting that it wasn't part of GNWT policy.

Guy refused to accept any of the explanations and said he was planning to organize a phone-in campaign that would tie up MACA phone lines and get the High Arctic communities some attention.

"I want every constituent to phone MACA at least once a day or two or three times a day. All you do is tie up their office and tie up the poor receptionist and ask the question, why is Resolute Bay not getting its arena," said Guy.

Even though he wasn't sure his action would result in an enclosed rink, Guy felt it might, at least, draw some attention to the fact that the little communities in Nunavut have been left out in the cold by the government.

"The small communities are fed up. We thought maybe there would be some spinoffs, but there's been absolutely nothing."

The phone-in campaign is set to begin this Wednesday.