Celebrating Canada’s 150th Anniversary

The Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce is helping Fort Simpson businesses and residents get in the spirit to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.

The Chamber itulips selling Canada 150th tulip bulbs. The bulbs were cultivated especially for the anniversary year. The red markings on each petal resemble a maple leaf on a white background. The Chamber is doing pre-sales of the bulbs, which will be available for planting in September.

“Next spring the village will be filled with red and white tulips that will pay tribute to a special anniversary for Canada,” said Kirby Groat, the Chamber’s president.

The bulbs are being sold for $25 for 15 bulbs, $42 for 25 and $83 for 50. For more information on how to place a pre-order contact the Chamber at 695-6538 or fscofc@gmail.com.

 

Celebrating Our Members

The Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce wouldn’t exist without our members so as a way to say thank-you, the Chamber held a membership appreciation barbecue on Aug. 24. Approximately 22 of our members, their families and employees came to the picnic shelter at the Fort Simpson Territorial Park to enjoy the chance to socialize and enjoy some delicious food.

Chamber President KirIMGP1605by Groat kept the hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken burgers coming off the grill and onto waiting plates. Local caterer Vanessa Villeneuve rounded out the barbecue with two delicious salads and a selection of pies and tarts. Warm weather, sunshine and good company kept participants at the barbecue until 9 p.m.

The Chamber is always looking for ways to engage our members and we were excited to be able to hold this summer barbecue as a way toIMGP1612 say thank-you to all of the local businesses that support our activities throughout the year.

 

 

 

 

Pressing for Answers on Extended Ferry Hours

shane

The Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce would like to thank Nahendeh MLA Shane Thompson for continuing to press for answers regarding the extension of the hours of service at the MV Laffery.

Thompson made a members statement on the issue at the Legislative Assembly on June 1. He also questioned Minister Wally Schumann on how the Department of Transportation can state that it can’t extend the hours because of fiscal restraints when a fiscal analysis of additional hours of service hasn’t been completed. The Chamber looks forward to reviewing that analysis.

Excerpt Taken From Unedited Hansard transcript for June 1, 2016

 Member’s Statement on Hours of Operation for Fort Simpson Ferry Service

  1. THOMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, Mr. Speaker, I would like to address a number of things regarding our Ferry Services at Fort Simpson. First off, I would like to thank the Department of Transportation Fort Simpson’s staff, both in the office and out in the field, for the great service they provided. They are very much about serving the people of the NWT and I thank them for this. Mr. Speaker, I continue to fully support the Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce’s efforts to have the M.V. Lafferty’s hours of service extended by two hours every morning. During my election campaign I spoke to a number of business owners and staff of the Department and a number of constituents about this matter.

I have determined that the increase in the hours of service would create a number of benefits including: giving the community an extra two hours of ferry service daily; Opening the ferry at 6:00 a.m. means the community is open for business earlier and allowing businesses and people the opportunity to go to Hay River, High Level and Yellowknife and return home on the same day, helping to save costs; People traveling out of town, whether for business or pleasure, will have two extra hours of travel time; road maintenance staff will be able to get out on the roads quicker and get working on the roads to make them safer for travel for all residents; supplies and services to the highway camps will happen in a more timely manner; safety and emergency services will be extended; the extra hours could potentially require an additional ferry crew, resulting in additional local employment.

Mr. Speaker, I have been speaking with the Minister on this matter and doing everything in my power to promote the extension of the ferry hours in time for the 2016 ferry season. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been successful. I have stressed to the Minister that there is no local support for creating the extension by stopping ferry service for two hours in the afternoon. The community and region want the same service that was offered at the Fort Providence ferry crossing that served the people north of the lake. Mr. Speaker, additionally, I believe the Department of Transportation needs to study the idea of moving the ferry landing further up the Liard River to get away from the low spots at the current location as well as the potential of building a floating bridge or causeway using the islands further up the river.

Mr. Speaker, I hope the Minister and Department will be visionaries and seriously look at these ideas and work with the community’s political leaders, business leaders, and the residents of the Northwest Territories to make it happen. Later today I’ll have questions for the Minister regarding this statement. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

  1. THOMPSON: Mr. Speaker, today you heard my member statement about the ferry service in Fort Simpson. Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation did attend a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Fort Simpson regarding this issue on May 12. I thank him for attending that and speaking on behalf of the government. The next day, on May 13, I sent the Minister a question and asked has the department done a cost analysis of operating the ferry service for those extra two hours. The response I received today was: “the Department of Transportation acknowledges a question received from the Chamber of Commerce to extend the operation hours of MV Lafferty ferry. However, due to the current fiscal reality, the department is unable to provide the two hour extension. The Department of Transportation will continue to work with the community to optimize the ferry hours while recognizing the existing fiscal conditions affecting all of the government, GNWT.” Unfortunately, he did not answer my question. Therefore, can the Minister please tell the House if a cost analysis was done on this request, and if it was, when? Thank you.
  2. SPEAKER: Mahsi. Minister of Transportation.

HON. WALLY SCHUMANN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the member for his question on the ferry hours and the opportunity to meet with the Chamber in Fort Simpson. To my knowledge to date we haven’t done a complete cost analysis on the ferry for extending it by two hours for this particular. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

  1. THOMPSON: I thank the Minister for this answer. However, then, how can the Minister come out and say that due to fiscal restraint or fiscal responsibility we can’t do anything without a study being done? Thank you. Can you please explain that?

HON. WALLY SCHUMANN: As the Member alluded to, how can we do a cost analysis? We are presently, I believe, undertaking this under his request. We haven’t totally finished it to date. But the reality of the fiscal situation we are in, if we were to extend the ferry hours for the M.V. Lafferty in Fort Simpson, we would probably have to look at doing this for all other ferry systems within the Northwest Territories. Any solution that we would come towards with the community of Fort Simpson would have to probably be extended to other communities across the Northwest Territories. I must remind the Member that any solution that we work out with the communities needs to be within the fiscal realities and the regular territory framework of the Government of the Northwest Territories.

  1. THOMPSON: I again thank the Minister for his answer. I am a little confused with the responses that I got in my e-mail and today. It is a little bit different. Can the Minister please provide me with a historical cost to operate all the ferries of the NWT for the past three years including any over time?

HON. WALLY SCHUMANN: Yes. We can provide that to the Member.

  1. SPEAKER: Mahsi. Oral question. Member for Nahendeh.
  2. THOMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the Minister for his answer. I look forward to getting that information. Mr. Speaker, will the Minister have his department look into the feasibility of moving the ferry landing further up the yard to get away from the low squats at the current location and alternatives such as a floating bridge or causeway using the island further up the river as part of their strategic plan. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

HON. WALLY SCHUMANN: As the Member knows, we have a 25-year strategic transportation strategy, and we look at all aspects of transportation across the Northwest Territories. I don’t believe that this particular request is in there. But we can certainly have a quick study on it. One thing about moving that would be looking at realigning the highway and other things as such to doing that, which would be a great capital cost to the Government of the Northwest Territories. But I can talk to the department about it and get back to the Member.

 

Ferry Advocacy Undeterred

ferry 2

The Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce is pressing forward with its advocacy for increased hours of service at the MV Lafferty.

Despite the statement by Transportation Minister Wally Schumann at the Chamber’s AGM that in the current fiscal climate there is no way his department can increase the hours, the Chamber’s board remains resolute. The Chamber has sent the following letter to Minister Schumann asking that the Department of Transportation make a concerted effort to find the necessary funding in time for the 2017 ferry season.

 

The Honorable Minister Wally Schumann

Minister of Transportation

Box 1320

Yellowknife, NT

X1A 2L9

May 30, 2016

Re: Ferry hour extension for the MV Lafferty

 

Mr. Schumann,

The Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce would like to thank-you for finding time in your schedule to be a guest speaker at our annual general meeting on May 12. Your presentation was very informative and gave our members an overview of the projects they can expect to see your department proceed with in the near future. The question period with members of the audience was also well received.

During the question period we took special note of your statement that under the current fiscal climate the Department of Transportation cannot extend the ferry hours at the MV Lafferty. As you are well aware, the Chamber has been lobbying for this extension for two years and has created a strong argument in its favor based on the benefits the extra hours of service will bring to Fort Simpson and the Dehcho Region.

While we heard your reasoning, we agree with Richard Morland, the president of the NWT Chamber of Commerce and our second guest speaker, that “no” is just the beginning of a conversation. We would like to know how long the department is planning on standing beside its answer of “no.”

The Chamber strongly suggest that your department make a concerted effort to find the necessary funding to extend the ferry hours in time for the 2017 ferry season. As an organization dedicated to furthering business interests, we are well aware of the challenges the current economic climate poses. However, we question how the Department of Transportation and the larger Government of the Northwest Territories allocated the cost savings that arose from the closure of the Fort Providence ferry, its ferry camp and the construction and maintenance of the Fort Providence ice crossing. Surely some of those savings could be used for a two-hour daily extension on the Lafferty.

We look forward to working with your Department in any way possible to continue this conversation. After all, where would the NWT be today if everyone with a vision took “no” for a permanent answer?  You can reach the Chamber at 695-6538 or fscofc@gmail.com

Sincerely,

Kirby Groat,

President, Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce

Chamber holds successful AGM

The Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that its annual general meeting was a resounding success. Twenty-six people, representing a cross-section of local businesses and government departments, attended the evening event on May 12 in the Ice Breaker Lounge.

The highlights of the evening were the presentations by guest speakers Transportation Minister Wally Schumann and President Richard Morland of the NWT Chamber of Commerce. The extension of the Mackenzie Valley Highway was the focus of Schumann’s talk and of the questions that he fielded afterwards from the crowd.IMGP0972

“I am the new champion of the Mackenzie Valley Highway, but I am only one person,” he said.

Schumann stressed the importance of having everyone, including residents, local governments and the Chamber, lobby for federal funding for the project. Having been to Ottawa three times already, Schumann said he’s seen the amount of pressure that is being brought to bear to have the infrastructure money be spent on other projects across the country. At a minimum, Schumann said he’d like to see the Bear River Bridge build, but at the end of the day the territory wants the highway.

Schumann also touched on the Chamber’s advocacy to have the hours of the MV Lafferty extended.

“In the climIMGP0977ate we are in fiscally there is no way we can do it,” he said.

In his speech entitled, “Our North, Our Challenges, Our Possibilities,” Morland looked at the challenges businesses face in the North and what can be done to overcome them. Morland also spoke about the role of the NWT Chamber of Commerce. The job of the Chamber is to gather common threads from the regional chambers and assemble them into two or three clean, crisp advocacy issues that can be lobbied to the territorial and federal governments, he said.

As part of the annual general meeting the yearly election for the board was also held. The Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the 2016/17 board includes Kirby Groat- President, Ted Grant- Vice-President, Colin Munro- Secretary/Treasurer, Angela Fiebelkorn- Past-President, and Pat Rowe, Ria Letcher and Ronne Blauel- Directors.

The new board is eager to continue on the Chamber’s work and identify new advocacy issues and projects in Fort Simpson.