Fort Resolution’s mayor resigns with Maca set to take over

A file photo of the church in Fort Resolution in December 2018. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
The church in Fort Resolution. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

Fort Resolution’s mayor said on Monday he was resigning ahead of an anticipated NWT government takeover of the community’s affairs.

The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs is on the verge of appointing a municipal administrator in Fort Resolution, as it did with Fort McPherson in 2014 and Norman Wells in 2017.

That administrator will replace the community’s council, which will be dissolved, and handle all of the council’s responsibilities.

Shortly after this report was first published on Monday, the NWT government confirmed it had given the hamlet formal notice of an intent to place it under administration in 30 days’ time.



The territory says Fort Resolution’s municipal government has “financial and operational difficulties.”

“Appointing a municipal administrator in Fort Resolution is a critical step in helping the community government,” Maca minister Shane Thompson was quoted as saying.

Mayor Patrick Simon, in a resignation email to Cabin Radio at 5am on Monday, confirmed the community is in a “financial crisis.”

Simon, who could not be reached for further comment, said Thompson and the department had “entertained malicious lies about my family and community as an excuse to circumvent their culpability and negate support for the hamlet’s financial crisis.”



He did not elaborate on the nature of what had been alleged.

Simon also said Thompson was “threatening citizens to pay for the institution’s errors through rate hikes and reduced services.”

Questions about the exact actions Maca intends to take were not immediately answered by the territorial government.

In a Monday news release, the territory said its administrator will focus on “identifying all current issues and developing a plan to provide stability to the community government.”

“Providing this direct support is an important step towards the Government of the Northwest Territories’ goal of building stronger relationships with community governments,” the territory added.

Whoever is appointed – no specific administrator was named in Monday’s news release – will have the authority to take financial control of the hamlet and make changes to operations. They can address staffing issues, develop a strategic plan and update council procedures ready for the eventual return of an elected council.

Water bills

In a separate document supplied alongside his resignation letter, Simon was quoted as saying: “I chose to resign because colonialism is interfering with our community.”

He alleges that part of the hamlet’s financial problem can be attributed to Housing NWT not paying water bills for its units in the community.



“Once the housing minister pays their bills on time and consistently, then that means that the hamlet can meet its obligations,” Simon was quoted as saying. “But without that … the municipality has its hands tied perpetually and citizens pay heavily for the inadequacies of their territorial leaders.”

In a response received after this article was first published, Housing NWT said it received an invoice for water, sewer and garbage fees from the hamlet last week, covering the period from July 2022 to March 31 this year.

“This invoice had been requested on numerous occasions,” the territorial agency said, “and Housing understood from the hamlet that their accounts receivable clerk position was vacant and that was causing the delays in issuing invoices.”

Housing NWT said it was working with hamlet staff “to verify the details of the invoice in order to ensure that we issue the correct payment.”

“Housing does understand the urgency of issuing payment and, as such, is actively working with the hamlet staff to be able to expedite payment to them,” the statement concluded. The sum at issue was not specified by either Simon or Housing NWT.

The CBC reported on Monday that documents in its possession suggest Fort Resolution has fallen behind on financial reporting and budgeting, and its collective agreement with staff has long expired.

On at least two other recent occasions, administrators have been sent in when NWT communities either faced dire financial straits or alleged mismanagement.

In the 2014 case of Fort McPherson, the GNWT said the community government was facing a deficit of more than $2 million.



In Norman Wells three years later, administration followed an inspection that focused on whether or not the town’s government was complying “with all legislated requirements in the conduct of its business.”

Maca stepped in after that inspection “indicated that the community government was experiencing operational difficulties,” the GNWT stated at the time. A report described “alleged improprieties, conflicts of interest, breaches of confidentiality, and failure to follow legislation and council procedures” at municipal level.

A fresh council was ultimately elected a year later, though Norman Wells’ new council has recently faced difficulties of its own regarding a lawsuit involving its former senior administrator and mayor.