Confusion and a lack of funding sparked approval of a Northwest Territories Association of Communities (NWTAC) resolution at its annual general meeting May 10-13 in Norman Wells asking Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) for a comprehensive review of its extraordinary funding policy.
MACA’s extraordinary funding policy was set up to provide financial aid to communities when they are faced with “extraordinary” events. The problem, according to Yellowknife Mayor Gordon
Van Tighem, president of the NWT Association of Communities, is there is a limited budget of approximately $160,000 and no consistent definition of “extraordinary.”
When Hay River requests funding for help with its occasional floods, sometimes it gets funding and sometimes does not, Van Tighem told The Journal. MACA consistently turns down requests for help from Aklavik, which regularly contends with flooding.
“They were looking for some relief with their annual spring floods, and they were told it’s not extraordinary; it happens every year,” Van Tighem said.
As Norman Wells’ natural gas production continues to decline and prices rise, the town is looking for help, but Van Tighem said MACA has also turned it away. It is a difficult situation, but not considered “extraordinary” by MACA.
“We want them to explain more carefully why things are not seen as qualifying because, like in Norman Wells, the response they got was that ‘well, you have enough money in the bank to pay for it, so we don’t have to give you any.’” Van Tighem said.
The NWTAC has expressed concern several times regarding the eligibility requirements for extraordinary funding. The NWTAC seeks an expansion of the definition of “extraordinary” to include more situations and a funding increase to help communities in need.
“It’s more a plea for setting aside more against natural emergencies,” Van Tighem said.