Inuvik economy struggling, says new report commissioned by town

An economic report produced for the Town of Inuvik suggests that a high cost of living, decreasing population, and reliance on the oil and gas industry are factors in the decline of Inuvik's economy.

Report finds 17 businesses have closed in the last seven years, calls for diversification of economy

A new economic report says Inuvik's economy is struggling, and that the town's economy is too reliant on the oil and gas industry. At least seventeen businesses have closed in Inuvik in the past seven years. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

A new report commissioned by Inuvik's town council is confirming what many residents have known for a while: the town's economy has stalled.

The report says at least 17 businesses have closed in Inuvik in the last seven years, and that the local economy "has been struggling to deal with extremely high utility and heating prices, a rising unemployment rate, decreasing population, and a shrinking business sector."

Inuvik mayor Floyd Roland says the report highlights the challenges faced by the town, but also opportunities for growth. (CBC)

Both the territorial government's department of Industry, Tourism and Investment and the town provided funding for the report. A combination of economic indicators, online surveys, focus groups, interviews with local community members and political leaders are the basis of the report's findings.

"This shows the population numbers, it shows the areas we've been struggling," says Floyd Roland, the mayor of Inuvik, "and it also shows the areas where there's been some growth."

According to the report, Inuvik's economy has been on the cusp of an economic jolt, but "these prospects, however, have not materialized to their full capacity and remain uncertain for the future."

The report suggests that Inuvik needs to diversify its economy from the dominant oil and gas development sector, and can do so by attracting more vacation and business tourism.

Roland says the town is already developing this sector. After cancelling its annual petroleum show, the town is planning to host an new annual conference focusing on Arctic energy and emerging technologies.

"We are hoping that we can capture some of that market," says Roland.

The report also points out that the town is already a hub for research, an industry suggested as an area for possible growth. 

Joe Lavoie, the owner of a local hardware store, agrees with the report's findings, both positive and negative. 

"I think we have to be more creative," he says. "But there are opportunities for sure."