A file photo of the community of Fort Resolution. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
An NWT government order dismissing Fort Resolution’s hamlet council and appointing an external administrator has come into force.
The territorial government said Shawn Stuckey, a former senior administrator in places like Tuktoyaktuk, Gjoa Haven and Igloolik, is the new municipal administrator.
In a news release, the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs said the order appointing Stuckey also “relieves the mayor and all members of the Hamlet of Fort Resolution council of their duties.”
The legal order handing control to Stuckey had been anticipated for a month. In early May, Mayor Patrick Simon said he was resigning over Maca’s intention to move Fort Resolution into administration, saying “colonialism is interfering with our community.”
The NWT government says the hamlet faces significant “financial and operational challenges” that must be addressed. The outgoing hamlet council said last week that Maca could have done more to work with the community, calling on minister Shane Thompson to meet with councillors and residents.
The order appointing Stuckey and removing council “will remain in effect until it is repealed, at a date to be determined,” the NWT government stated.
“This is not a decision that is taken lightly. It is an exceptional measure that has been deemed necessary to stabilize operations and address the challenges the hamlet is facing,” Monday’s news release added.
Stuckey is tasked with completing and submitting a 2023-24 budget as a priority, alongside establishing a “deficit recovery plan” to get the hamlet’s finances on track and completing a backlog of financial paperwork.
Under the territory’s legislation, he has the same powers as council previously possessed to get that work done, although bylaws, budgets and the deficit recovery plan will need ministerial approval.
“Once the minister is satisfied that the issues facing the hamlet have been resolved, the Hamlets Act provides the minister with the authority to revoke the administration order and call a new election. The idea is to have an elected government in place as soon as stability has been restored,” the territorial government stated.
In the NWT legislature last week, Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Richard Edjericon said the hamlet’s requests for help had “fallen on deaf ears” leading up to the prospect of administration, a suggestion Maca and its minister have denied.
“It sounds like the administration’s going to happen, and there are still concerns with the residents of Fort Resolution in regards to the water rates and sewer rates going up,” Edjericon said on Friday.
He urged Thompson to commit to keeping those rates as they are “until we have a better handle on what’s going to happen in the administration work plan.”
Thompson, responding, said he had no “timeline or implementation plan” and the administrator “hasn’t even started the required work to address the deficit and outstanding issues.”
“There may likely be some changes required to the hamlet programs and services, including the water and sewer rates,” the minister said.
“However, we don’t know that until we look at it. Municipal and Community Affairs is aware that several hamlet programs and services are not currently functioning at full capacity, and there will likely be changes needed to ensure that residents are receiving these municipal services.
“I would encourage the residents of Fort Res to provide support to the administrator as he undertakes the work required to help the hamlet to … a stable and financial path.”