Open for business
The office held an open house on June 27 to introduce itself to the community.
"This is a big day in Hay River and across the territory," said Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Brendan Bell.
The minister said the office, which has been open since April, will play a very important role in the proposed pipeline project.
The office is also important for Hay River, he noted. "Hay River is going to be the logistical epicentre of the project."
Hay River South MLA Jane Groenewegen thanked Bell for his support in locating the office in the community.
The location was opposed by communities closer to the proposed route of the pipeline.
Bell and the territorial cabinet "took a hammering" on the decision, Groenewegen noted. "But they stood their ground." She said time will prove that Hay River is the right location.
Councillor Mike Maher, speaking on behalf of the Town of Hay River, also thanked the government for setting up the office in the community.
However, K'atlodeeche First Nation Chief Roy Fabian sounded a note of caution about the proposed pipeline project, saying the Dehcho Process should first be completed before anything else happens.
"Unless these things are dealt with, this office isn't going to do much good here," Fabian said.
When fully-staffed, there will be seven employees in the office, which will co-ordinate the GNWT's role in the pipeline project.
There are currently three people working in the office, including director Tim Coleman.
Bell says, prior to the office, the government's response to the pipeline proposal has been departmentalized.
"I think this office forces us to come together."
The office, which has an annual operating budget of just over $1 million, is expected to remain open until at least 2010.