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Searching for funds

Erika Sherk
Northern News Services

Hay River (Nov 20/06) - The need for a new or improved town hall and fire hall may not fit criteria for extra funding, said local MLAs at a recent town council meeting in Hay River.

Councillor Tom Hamilton said the town should apply for funding through the Extraordinary Funding Policy of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA). The policy states that funding is available "to address unanticipated infrastructure deficiency."

Council hoped to be eligible for the funding as a recent building evaluation done by PSAV Architects showed that a refurbishment, if not a complete rebuilding of the fire hall and town hall would be necessary.

That assessment is much greater than council had expected.

The two halls share one building, which was built in 1964. Two additions have been made to the structure since that time, but no other major renovations have taken place, according to the building evaluation.

Estimates indicate it would take nearly $1.6 million just to bring them up to fire codes, and more work will likely be needed, said mayor John Pollard, especially at the fire hall, where some emergency vehicles do not fit in the building.

Fire Chief Trent Atwell said their highway rescue vehicle and one tanker have to be kept in the fire hall in Old Town, about six-kilometres away from the downtown fire hall.

He said having everything in one centralized location would be much better, as "time is definitely a factor" in firefighting.

After reviewing the policy, Jane Groenewegen, MLA for Hay River South, pointed out a section that states "extraordinary funding is not intended to address on-going funding requirements or deficiencies." She questioned whether refurbishment of the town hall and fire hall counted as "unanticipated."

Paul Delorey, MLA for Hay River North, said he had spoken to MACA about the fund and had found that Hay River's situation "wouldn't come under criteria."

Pollard said that he thought it stood a chance.

"We did not anticipate that the structures would be that deficient," he said.

Council will still apply for the funding, said Pollard, once decisions are made on what to do to improve the halls.

Delorey also mentioned other funds that Hay River could utilize, such as the Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund. As well the Community has access to the Capacity Building Fund, worth $1.9 million.

"This is money that the town has complete say over what they do with it," said Delorey.

Pollard said that was under consideration. "We're going like a house on fire on that one," he said.