Fort Resolution, penniless, queries the help it's getting

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The mayor of Fort Resolution says the hamlet is so broke it was forced to lay six people off – and he says the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) isn't doing enough to help.

The department, by contrast, says it has a co-management plan with the hamlet and is providing appropriate assistance.

"Some people are talking like it’s my fault that the hamlet doesn’t have money in its bank account," Louis Balsillie, who was re-elected on March 14, posted to Facebook the same day. CBC reports the election is being appealed.

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"I came across all these problems when I took on this role and it may take two years before we get back on our feet," Balsillie continued.

"It’s so frustrating when people point fingers but won’t take responsibility.

"We are in a bad place right now but our hamlet will get back on track and will be run properly and efficiently before you know it."

Robert Tordiff, assistant deputy minister at MACA, said department staff have frequently travelled to Fort Resolution to offer support as the hamlet struggles to balance its books.

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Balsillie, however, told Cabin Radio: "They’re saying they sent help … but I don’t call that coming into a community, staying for three hours and then taking off.

"I’ve been trying to address this with the Premier and the Minister of Finance for the longest time and nobody is getting back to me."

Co-management plan in place

Balsillie declined to comment further.

Tordiff said MACA works with all communities as necessary, and has been working alongside Fort Resolution since February 2018 on an operational review.

He said the hamlet requested both that review and a co-management plan this February, which was just signed by both parties on March 22.

While Tordiff was unable to comment on the operational review, he did explain in general terms what the co-management agreement involves.

His department will help the hamlet to develop a new strategic plan and a 2019-20 budget, and will provide governance training for council members, among other things.

MACA said it had helped the community to hire Scotty Edgerton as an interim senior administrative officer.

“Our assistance with them is on a technical level,” Tordiff explained, adding the co-management agreement would last until March 31, 2020. The agreement is not the first between the department and Fort Resolution.

"[Co-management agreements are] not something out of the ordinary," he said.

"We do enter into co-management with those community governments that express an interest in working with us to resolve issues they are struggling with, and perhaps unable to resolve on their own.

"We work with administration, with councils, to help build capacity as well.

"In the long term it’s always a better strategy to work with communities and help them resolve their own issues, as opposed to a situation where you may … have a community council dissolved."