Getting the word out
Fort Simpson chamber gain contacts in Alberta/B.C.

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

FORT SIMPSON (Oct 22/99) - A few members of the Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce were among the jet-set delegation to Alberta and B.C. last week in an effort to drum up some business.

Wayne and Lynn McKay, proprietors of Check Point, and businessman Duncan Canvin, took advantage of the four-day, whirlwind tour of High Level, Peace River and Grande Prairie in Alberta and Dawson Creek, Fort St. John and Fort Nelson in British Columbia.

Kevin McLellan, representing the Department of Renewable Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development, which sponsored the trip along with the NWT Chamber of Commerce, was also on board.

"We met a lot of people in a lot of different businesses in all of the different places we visited ... it was well worth it," said Wayne McKay, adding that he and Lynn approached a number of different tour operators and also made contacts among automotive parts suppliers and tire suppliers.

The Northern delegation was met by the mayor and members of municipal councils in each community. During Monday evening's village council meeting, Canvin said Kevin Diebold, president of the NWT Chamber, reiterated the message that the NWT has gone as far abroad as Russia and China to do business, but has ignored its immediate neighbours in Alberta and B.C.

"Everyone on the mission benefited in one way or another from making the contacts and letting everyone know we were there," said Canvin.

McKay said an invitation was extended to the centres in Alberta and B.C. to visit the NWT communities in return.

"What's happening now is a lot of companies in the south come North to sell their products and it doesn't generate much revenue for the Northwest Territories at all, actually it doesn't generate any that I know of," he explained. "What we're trying to do is get them to link up with businesses already in the North doing the same thing."

The 16 Northern delegates also got the chance to tour some industry facilities such as the new natural gas power plant in Fort Nelson.

The poor condition of Highway No. 77 from Fort Nelson heading north was discussed as it hinders travel on the Deh Cho connection. McKay said a municipal employee in Fort Nelson told him $20 million has been committed towards improving the road over the next five years.

Although the reception was warm in each community, McKay said the smaller ones seemed to be better able to relate to the objectives of the Northern delegation.

Canvin drove home that point by relating an anecdote from the stop in Grande Prairie, where construction is booming.

"They had 500 housing starts (over the past year) and I told them we don't even have 500 houses," he said.