South Slave

New pavilion set to star as Hay River’s market returns


Hay River’s Fisherman’s Wharf market reopens next weekend inside a new pavilion built at a cost of around $750,000.

There will be some pandemic-related rules in place when the market resumes on Saturday, August 1, but organizer Bridgette Dumas hopes Covid-19 won’t take too much away.

“I’m really glad because it’s something that’s been going on since 2003,” she said of the market.

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Dumas said the new pavilion was “quite different” and she was interested to see whether it created the same atmosphere as the old, “jam-packed” wharf.

Social distancing rules may have an impact on that, limiting browsing time at each stall.

“[Customers] won’t be able to sit down and chat with all the vendors over the counter like they used to, it’s got a little bit more faster movement now compared to before,” said Dumas.

“At least it’s something for the community. They all miss the wharf, so at least we’re able to offer them something.”

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Vendors have been asked to wear masks. Dumas said environmental health officers had suggested only one person at the site handle cash, while the venue doesn’t accept debit payments.

Sponsorship for pavilion

Glenn Smith, Hay River’s new senior administrator, said that though the market will look different this year, the main goal is to ensure restrictions are followed and the wharf is successful.

“There won’t be any sit-down type services, which is unfortunate for this year,” Smith said. “I think a big part of what made the Fisherman’s Wharf market successful in the last several years has been the social aspect of it.”

According to Smith, the new pavilion’s ultimate price tag came in at around $750,000 – up from an earlier estimate of $440,000 – which he says numerous contributors have helped to offset. (Federal agency CanNor made an initial commitment of $230,000 to the project while the territorial government put forward $100,000.)

More than $150,000 has been raised through a sponsorship program, either as cash or in-kind support, he said.

“One of the strengths that we’ve had for both community and event tourism is the number of events that are organized by our community groups,” said Smith.

“We recognize that it’s a facility that can be used for hosting weddings and other tourism events, other community events, whether it’s sporting recreation, culture, or entertainment.”

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