Will municipalities support projects?
NNSL (Sep 27/99) - Any infrastructure plan created to keep Giant workers in the North must have the support of the NWT communities.
Ile Royale consultant David Connelly was hired by the Canadian Autoworkers Local 2304 to find ways to keep workers employed until Diavik and other proposed mining projects become operational.
The hope is that the NWT will be able to absorb the trained Giant workers that are already here, thereby giving them an option other than going south.
Connelly said a number of interest groups contacted to date have suggested infrastructure projects could benefit the NWT while creating immediate jobs.
"One of the uncertainties is we don't know if the communities will be supportive of an infrastructure investment in Yellowknife," Connelly said.
"We need to find out what the impact of a Giant closure on the rest of the NWT communities will be."
To do that, a questionnaire was prepared by the NWT Chamber of Commerce that will be sent to the mayors of each NWT community and to over 100 members of the NWT Chamber of Commerce.
The purpose of the questionnaire is to gauge whether or not the bankruptcy of Giant Mine/Royal Oak will impact business in other NWT communities.
It also asks other communities to consider if it would be appropriate to seek funding for infrastructure investment(s) to offset the effects of the Giant bankruptcy.
"Such projects could include a convention centre, mine clean up, lengthening of the (Yellowknife Airport) runway, and acceleration of the road from Rae to Yellowknife," the questionnaire states.
There are more than 20 comprehensive questions on the form. NWT Association of Municipalities (NWTAM) president George Roach responded cautiously when asked about the questionnaire.
"The NWTAM is aware of the issues facing Yellowknife and we are sympathetic, but we represent all communities in the NWT and there are difficulties occurring in many of them," Roach said.
Roach is also the mayor of Inuvik, a town that in the past 15 years has weathered the closing of a major military base and the pull out of a vibrant oil and gas sector.
"Certainly we feel for Yellowknife, but many communities have suffered trauma. Inuvik has been through 15 years of downturns and cutbacks and we're not crying," Roach said.
He tempered his comments by adding that he has no doubt everyone in the territory will pull together in this trying time to support viable make-work projects.
"We will support positive ideas but we also have to remember other communities are suffering hard times too," Roach said.
"We don't want to see all the bail out resources allocated to Yellowknife. There will be hard times, but they'll certainly come out of it."
Connelly pointed out that infrastructure projects are just one idea to create jobs. He said they are looking for creative input from anyone who may have a suggestion on how to keep workers employed.
"At this point, we will consider any constructive idea which helps offset the impact of the Giant closure until the Diavik mine comes online," Connelly said.
Meanwhile, interim receiver PricewaterhouseCoopers filed their 14th report on Royal Oak Mines Inc. in court on Friday. Here are some of the highlights: